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Zlatan Ibrahimovic: LeBron James, other athletes should stay out of politics

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic says it is a “mistake” for athletes like LeBron James to discuss political issues. The AC Milan star says the basketball icon should stick to talking about sports.

James has spent the bulk of his career being outspoken about many non-sports issues, including the founding of his I Promise school as well as the More Than a Vote organization, which helped people cast their ballots during the 2020 presidential election.

The Lakers star was famously told to “shut up and dribble” by television personality Laura Ingraham in response to James’ discussion of political topics.

What did Ibrahimovic have to say?

“[James] is phenomenal at what he’s doing, but I don’t like when people have some kind of status, they go and do politics at the same time,” Ibrahimovic told Discovery+ in Sweden. “Do what you’re good at. Do the category you do. I play football because I’m the best at playing football.

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“I don’t do politics. If I would be a political politician, I would do politics. That is the first mistake people do when they become famous and they become in a certain status. Stay out of it. Just do what you do best because it doesn’t look good.”

What has James said about politics?

James was named The Associated Press’ Male Athlete of the Year in 2020 after leading the Lakers to an NBA title, marking the fourth time he’d claimed the award.

However, he went on to say he was more proud of what he did off the court in 2020 as part of the drive to support Black Lives Matter and other organizations fighting for equality.

“I still know what I do on the floor and obviously, I give everything to the game,” James told the AP. 

“But I can make a greater impact off the floor right now, more than I can on the floor. And I want to continue to inspire people with the way I play the game of basketball. But there’s so many more things that I can do off the floor to help cultivate people, inspire people, bring people together, empower them.”

James’ I Promise School, which he opened in 2018, now has over 450 students in third through sixth grades while his affordable housing project for 50 families also recently broke ground.

The Lakers star’s More Than a Vote campaign drew more than 42,000 volunteers to work at polling stations in November as James looked to aid black voters and young voters in getting to the polls.

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