LeBron James rejects Zlatan's criticism of activist athletes

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) points at a team mate during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Portland Trail Blazers Friday, Feb. 26, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

LOS ANGELES – LeBron James responded to Zlatan Ibrahimovic's criticism of his political activism with a promise that he will never just shut up and dribble.

The Los Angeles Lakers superstar also pointed out that Ibrahimovic clearly didn't feel the same way about spotlighting social injustices when the soccer great called out racism in his native Sweden just three years ago.

The AC Milan striker and former LA Galaxy star criticized James and other socially conscious athletes Thursday in an interview with Discovery Plus. Ibrahimovic called it “a mistake” for James and other athletes to get involved in political causes, saying they should "just do what you do best, because it doesn’t look good.”

James responded forcefully to Ibrahimovic's stance after the Lakers' 102-93 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday night.

“I would never shut up about things that are wrong,” said James, who had 28 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists.

“I preach about my people and I preach about equality, social injustice, racism, systematic voter suppression, things that go on in our community,” James added. “I know what’s going on still, because I have a group of 300-plus kids at my school that's going through the same thing, and they need a voice, and I’m their voice. I’ll use my platform to continue to shed light on everything that’s going on around this country and around the world. There’s no way I would ever just stick to sports, because I understand how powerful this platform and my voice is.”

James funds the I Promise School in his native Akron, Ohio. The third-leading scorer in NBA history also backs numerous initiatives pursuing social justice, voting rights and other progressive causes.

James also made it clear he was aware of comments made in 2018 by Ibrahimovic, the Swedish-born son of a Bosnian father and a Croatian mother.