Kareem Abdul-Jabbar weighs in on Ingraham, LeBron debate

LOS ANGELES — In the wake of LeBron James being told on a national news network to “shut up and dribble,” one of the first NBA activists, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, can attest that 50 years have passed with little progress.

“Nothing has really changed,” Abdul-Jabbar told the Daily News. “When I first started to speak out about different issues, people felt I didn’t have the right to because I had the opportunity to be a professional athlete. And that has nothing to do with desire to speak out on issues that are very important.”

Abdul-Jabbar, 70, was once labeled un-American for, among other things, his conversion to Islam and boycotting the 1968 Olympics during a time of racial strife in the U.S. He wrote that the decision to sit out the Olympics as a senior at UCLA “started a firestorm of criticism, racial epithets and death threats.”

Like LeBron today, Abdul-Jabbar was considered then one of the greatest players in the game.

“LeBron has every right to discuss issues,” Abdul-Jabbar told The News. “The fact that he’s a successful athlete does not mean he can’t speak out on issues.”

RELATED: LeBron James through the years

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LeBron James through the years
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LeBron James through the years
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 08: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers handles the ball against Alan Anderson #6 of the Brooklyn Nets during their game at Barclays Center on December 8, 2014 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 08: (NEW YORK DAILIES OUT) LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers in action against the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center on December 8, 2014 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. The Cavaliers defeated the Nets 110-88. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LA - DECEMBER 12: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers makes a shot over Luke Babbitt #8 of the New Orleans Pelicans at Smoothie King Center on December 12, 2014 in New Orleans, Louisiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 21: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers dunks during the first half against the Memphis Grizzlies at Quicken Loans Arena on December 21, 2014 in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 23: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers handles the ball against the Minnesota Timberwolves during the game on December 23, 2014 at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2014 NBAE (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 23: Kevin Love #0 and LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers react after a play in the first half against the Minnesota Timberwolves at Quicken Loans Arena on December 23, 2014 in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FL - DECEMBER 25: LeBron James #23 and Mike Miller #18 of the Cleveland Cavaliers high-five during a game against the Miami Heat at the American Airlines Arena on December 25, 2014 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2014 NBAE (Photo by Issac Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images)
MIAMI, FL - DECEMBER 25: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Dwyane Wade #3 of the Miami Heat converse during a game at the American Airlines Arena on December 25, 2014 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2014 NBAE (Photo by Issac Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images)
MIAMI, FL - DECEMBER 25: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers stands on the court against the Miami Heat at the American Airlines Arena on December 25, 2014 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2014 NBAE (Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images)
The Orlando Magic's Tobias Harris, right, defends against the Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James (23) at the Amway Center in Orlando, Fla., on Friday, Dec. 26, 2014. (Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel/TNS via Getty Images)
ORLANDO, FL - DECEMBER 26: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers shoots the ball against the Orlando Magic during the game on December 26, 2014 at Amway Center in Orlando, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2014 NBAE (Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 28: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers defends against the Detroit Pistons during the game on December 28, 2014 at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2014 NBAE (Photo by David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 28: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers during the game against the Detroit Pistons on December 28, 2014 at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2014 NBAE (Photo by David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 10: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers goes to the basket against the New Orleans Pelicans on November 10, 2014 at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2014 NBAE (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 10: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers dunks the ball against the New Orleans Pelicans during the game on November 10, 2014 at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2014 NBAE (Photo by David Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 10: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers goes for the dunk against the New Orleans Pelicans during the game on November 10, 2014 at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2014 NBAE (Photo by David Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 10: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers shoots against the New Orleans Pelicans during the game on November 10, 2014 at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2014 NBAE (Photo by David Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 10: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers shoots against the New Orleans Pelicans during the game on November 10, 2014 at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2014 NBAE (Photo by David Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 10: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers handles the ball against the New Orleans Pelicans on November 10, 2014 at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2014 NBAE (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 10: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers looks to pass during the game on November 10, 2014 at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2014 NBAE (Photo by David Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 10: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers drives to the basket against the New Orleans Pelicans during the game on November 10, 2014 at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2014 NBAE (Photo by David Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 10: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers drives down the court against the New Orleans Pelicans during the game on November 10, 2014 at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2014 NBAE (Photo by David Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 10: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers shoots against the New Orleans Pelicans during the game on November 10, 2014 at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2014 NBAE (Photo by David Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 10: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers shoots against the New Orleans Pelicans during the game on November 10, 2014 at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2014 NBAE (Photo by David Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 10: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers dribbles to the basket against Eric Gordon #10 of the New Orleans Pelicans during the game on November 10, 2014 at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2014 NBAE (Photo by David Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 10: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers drives to the basket against Eric Gordon #10 of the New Orleans Pelicans during the game on November 10, 2014 at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2014 NBAE (Photo by David Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 10: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers defends the ball against the New Orleans Pelicans during the game on November 10, 2014 at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2014 NBAE (Photo by David Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 10: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers during the game on November 10, 2014 at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2014 NBAE (Photo by David Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 10: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers laughs during an interview after the winning game against the New Orleans Pelicans on November 10, 2014 at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2014 NBAE (Photo by David Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images)
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Earlier this week, Fox News analyst Laura Ingraham tried to mute LeBron and Kevin Durant in response to the duo’s wide-ranging conversation on "UNINTERRUPTED," some of which included criticisms of Donald Trump.

“Must they run their mouths like that? Unfortunately, a lot of kids — and some adults — take these ignorant comments seriously,” Ingraham said on her show. “And it’s always unwise to seek political advice from someone who gets paid a hundred million dollars a year to bounce a ball.”

“Oh, and LeBron and Kevin: You’re great players, but no one voted for you … So keep the political commentary to yourself or, as someone once said, shut up and dribble.”

Abdul-Jabbar, who attended Saturday’s announcement of 2018 Hall of Fame finalists, said he has not yet spoken to James about handling the backlash for athlete activism.

“I don’t know how much support he gets. But I do know there’s always a reaction,” Abdul-Jabbar said. “There are lot of people that don’t want the subject to be discussed. The fact that LeBron has enough courage and determination to talk about these issues is great.”

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