Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James used media day at the NBA All-Star weekend to sarcastically thank radio host and Fox News contributor Laura Ingraham for her comments after he and Kevin Durant criticised United States president Donald Trump.
James and Golden State Warriors star Durant were criticised by Ingraham after the pair hit out at Trump in a video via Uninterrupted.
Ingraham told the duo to "shut up and dribble" the basketball as Durant accused her of racism.
"I appreciate her for giving me even more awareness, at the greatest weekend of the NBA," James, who is one of the team captains for Sunday's All-Star game, said at Staples Center on Saturday. "This is the best weekend of the NBA, when the countries in the whole entire world come watch the greatest players in the world.
"I get to sit up here and talk about social injustice and equality and why a woman on a certain network decided to tell me to 'Shut up and dribble. So, thank you, whatever her name is.
"I get to sit up here and talk about what's really important and how I can help change kids, not only in America, but in Brazil, England, Mexico and all over."
James corrected Ingraham, who said the three-time NBA champion tried to leave high school a year early to enter the NBA, by saying he actually did graduate from high school.
"We're back to everything I've been talking about over the last few years," James said. "It lets me know that everything I've been saying has been correct, for her to have that type of reaction. But we will definitely not shut up and dribble. I will definitely not do that. I mean too much to society. I mean too much to the youth. I meant too much to so many kids who feel like they don't have a way out and need someone to help lead them out of the situation they're in.
"You know, to be an African-American kid and grow up in the inner city with a single parent, mother, and not being financially stable and to make it where I've made it today, I think I've defeated the odds."
Ingraham's comments about James and Durant were criticised as racist because she has been silent when white NBA coaches Gregg Popovich and Steve Kerr have often been critical of Trump's administration.
She defended her "shut up and dribble" segment and even invited James on her show "anytime."
"Do I feel like her comments were racist? Well, listen, race is a part of our country, and we know that. I think the engine that she sits behind doesn't have a great rap sheet when it comes to race in our country and things of that nature," James said. "There's been many people that's not African-American that spoke upon the same issues that I spoke upon, and they didn't say anything to them. So you can look at it as being racist or you could look at it saying it's just racial tension, which we already know that. That goes without saying.
"I don't think we sit here and say, 'Oh, she's racist or that's racial tension,' I'm surprised. We know that was going on. I'm just trying to shed a greater light and a positive light on the bad aura or the energy that some of the people are trying to give to the people of America and to the world.
"I'm not the negative side. Me having this platform, I'm just trying to shed a positive light on what I feel like is right. Am I always right? Can I have everybody follow me? I don't think so. But I'm looking at my boys right here, teaching them what's right and what's wrong, and we see what happens after that."
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