Adam Silver is sticking by his players, even when they don’t just “shut up and dribble.” The NBA commissioner addressed the media in Los Angeles on Saturday and said he supported LeBron James and Kevin Durant and the way they responded to a conservative television host’s declaration that they should “shut up and dribble” and not speak out about politics.
It was James who on Thursday appeared in an Undefeated video where he said Donald Trump doesn’t “give a f*ck about the people” he was elected to govern. That got a reply from Fox News host Laura Ingraham, who said James and Durant should “shut up and dribble” and incorrectly stated James dropped out of high school. Both James and Durant responded to Ingraham, both on Instagram and publicly to the media.
James also stressed on Saturday that he is committed to being politically and socially active and said it’s part of his job as the NBA’s most visible player. That’s a sentiment that Silver emphatically endorsed, saying he’s “proud” of both James and Durant for the way they handled the situation and their work off the basketball court.
“Let me begin by saying I’m incredibly proud of our players for using the platform they have as players in the NBA and on social media to speak out on issues that are important to them,” Silver said. “I was proud of LeBron and Kevin’s response to the comments that were made about them.”
Though the NBA has not encouraged protests during the national anthem, overall the league has been incredibly supportive of its players and coaches speaking out about political and social issues. Silver, for instance, thought the Warriors should visit Trump’s White House should an invitation ever have come. But when individual athletes speak out, the NBA has championed that player’s right to speak and encouraged them to be active in the community to enact real change.
“I should also say it’s not lost on me or anybody in this room that there is enormous amount of racial tension in this country, enormous amount of social injustice, and I do see a role for this league in addressing those issues,” Silver added on Saturday.