Popovich rips Fox News host's 'arrogance' in telling LeBron to 'shut up and dribble'

Count Gregg Popovich among the manyobservers who don’t think LeBron James should just “shut up and dribble.”

Before his San Antonio Spurs took on James’ Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday, Popovich spoke with reporters about LeBron’s recent bout with controversy outside the white lines of the basketball court. James and Kevin Durant criticized President Donald Trump in a clip for James’ Uninterrupted platform, with the four-time NBA MVP saying that that Trump, elected to “the No. 1 job in America, the appointed person, is someone who doesn’t understand the people and really don’t give a f*** about the people.” The clip went viral, eventually reaching the desk of Fox News commentator Laura Ingraham, who called James and Durant’s comments “ignorant” and recommended that they “keep the political commentary to [themselves], or, as someone once said, ‘Shut up and dribble.’”

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Gregg Popovich through his career
SAN ANTONIO, TX - MAY 22: Gregg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs talks to the media during a press conference after Game Four of the Western Conference Finals against the Golden State Warriors during the 2017 NBA Playoffs on May 22, 2017 AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas. 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 2017 NBAE (Photos by Mark Sobhani/NBAE via Getty Images)
San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich (R) chats with Spurs guard Antonio Daniels during the team's practice at New York's Madison Square Garden, June 22. The Spurs lost Game Three of the 1999 NBA Finals to the New York Knicks 89-81 at the Garden on June 21, and now hold a 2-1 lead in the series with Game Four on June 23. MS/BM
San Antonio Spurs' head coach Gregg Popovich holds the NBA Championship trophy in the Spurs' locker room after the Spurs defeated the Knicks 78-77 in Game 5 of the 1999 NBA Finals to win the NBA Championship, June 25. The Spurs won the series four games to one. RFS/HB
San Antonio Spurs' head coach Gregg Popovich gets pulled back by assistant coaches Mike Budenholzer (L) and Hank Egan (C) after the Spurs were called with a second half foul during the Western Conference Playoffs Semifinal Round Game 2 at the Alamodome, May 7, 2001. Popovich was ejected from the game after receiving his second technical. AL/ME
San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich yells at an official during the second quarter against the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 1 of the NBA Western Conference Finals at the Alamodome in San Antonio, May 19, 2001. JM/SV
San Antonio Spurs' head coach Gregg Popovich (L) talks to guards Tony Parker (R) Steve Smith (C) during the fourth quarter of Game 1 of the NBA Western Conference semifinals May 5, 2002 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. The Lakers defeated Popovich's Spurs 86-80, to take the first game of the seven game series. REUTERS/Mike Blake MB
San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich gestures on the sidelines during Game 6 of the NBA Finals against the New Jersey Nets in San Antonio, Texas June 15, 2003. REUTERS/Mike Blake RTW/GAC
Los Angeles Lakers fan and actor Jack Nicholson (R) reacts to a foul called against the Lakers as San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich guides his team during Game 6 of their NBA Western Conference semifinal in Los Angeles May 15, 2004. [The Lakers lead the defending NBA Champions 3-2 in the best-of-seven series.]
San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich talks to the press during practice sessions at the 2005 NBA Finals in San Antonio, Texas, June 11, 2005. The Spurs defeated the Detroit Pistons 84-69 in Game 1 and lead the best-of-seven series 1-0 with Game 2 scheduled for June 12. REUTERS/Jeff Mitchell JM/MSF
San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich (L) talks to guard Manu Ginobili during a timeout in the first half against the Detroit Pistons in Game 2 of the 2005 NBA Finals in San Antonio, Texas June 12, 2005. The Spurs lead the best-of-seven series 1-0. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson JM/VP
Spurs head coach Popovich talks with Duncan on the bench near the end of Game 4 of the NBA Finals in Auburn Hills. San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich (R) talks with Tim Duncan (L) on the bench near the end of Game 4 of the NBA Finals in Auburn Hills, Michigan, June 16, 2005. Detroit beat San Antonio 102-71 to even the series two games each. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich yells at official Bennett Salvatore to dispute a call during the fourth quarter of NBA play against the Indiana Pacers at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis February 12, 2006. Popovich's Spurs won the game 92-88. REUTERS/Brent Smith
San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich looks on as his team plays the Phoenix Suns during Game 3 of the NBA Western Conference semifinal basketball playoffs in San Antonio, Texas May 12, 2007. REUTERS/Joe Mitchell (UNITED STATES)
San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich smiles as he answers a question during media availability for their NBA Finals basketball series against the Cleveland Cavaliers in Cleveland, Ohio, June 13, 2007. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson (UNITED STATES)
San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich reacts in the second half of Game 4 of their NBA Western Conference semi-final playoff series against the Phoenix Suns in San Antonio, Texas May 9, 2010. REUTERS/Mike Stone (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)
San Antonio Spurs and Western conference head coach Gregg Popovich answers a question during media availability for the NBA All-Star basketball game in Houston, Texas, February 15, 2013. The All-Star game will be played on February 17. REUTERS/Jeff Haynes (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)
San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich (R) speaks with player Tony Parker (C), who injured his hamstring during Game 3, as teammate Tim Duncan ties his shoelace during practice for their NBA Finals basketball playoff series against the Miami Heat in San Antonio, Texas June 12, 2013. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)
San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich directs his team against the Miami Heat during the second quarter in Game 5 of their NBA Finals basketball series in San Antonio, Texas, June 16, 2013. REUTERS/Mike Stone (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)
Jan 17, 2014; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich reacts after being called for a technical foul during the second half against the Portland Trail Blazers at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 22, 2014; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich responds to questions from reporters during a news conference where he was named the NBA Coach of the Year at Spurs Practice Facility. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 4, 2014; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich during practice before game one of the 2014 NBA Finals against the Miami Heat at the AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 8, 2014; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich reacts to ball during the second quarter against the Miami Heat in game two of the 2014 NBA Finals at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
San Antonio Spurs forward Tim Duncan talks with head coach Gregg Popovich during a practice for their NBA Finals basketball series against the Miami Heat in San Antonio, Texas June 7, 2014. REUTERS/Mike Stone (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)
Jun 10, 2014; Miami, FL, USA; San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich speaks to the media prior to game three of the 2014 NBA Finals against the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 18, 2014; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich waves to the fans during the NBA championship parade at San Antonio River Walk. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 18, 2014; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich speaks to the crowd during NBA championship celebrations at Alamodome. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 28, 2014; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich shakes hands with NBA commissioner Adam Silver during a ceremony before the game against the Dallas Mavericks at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 14, 2016; San Antonio, TX, USA; NBA ESPN sideline reporter J.A. Adande interviews San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich during the second half against the Boston Celtics at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 4, 2017; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich (left) reacts against the Denver Nuggets during the second half at the AT&T Center. The Spurs won 121-97. Mandatory Credit: Brendan Maloney-USA TODAY Sports
May 11, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) talks with San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich (R) after game six of the second round of the 2017 NBA Playoffs at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
May 11, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs guard Danny Green (14) and head coach Gregg Popovich (R) walk off the court after defeating the Houston Rockets in game six of the second round of the 2017 NBA Playoffs at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
SAN ANTONIO, TX - SEPTEMBER 25: Gregg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs poses for a head shot during media day in San Antonio, Texas at AT&T Center on September 25, 2017. 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 2017 NBAE (Photo by Mark Sobhani/NBAE via Getty Images)
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During a media session at All-Star Weekend, James declined to take Ingraham’s advice. During his pre-game chat on Saturday, Popovich — an Air Force Academy graduate who served five years in the military, and who has frequentlyvoiced his displeasure with the state of affairs in the U.S. political system and broaderdiscourse — lauded LeBron for his commitment to speaking about the issues that matter to him, and chastised Ingraham and anyone else who’d call on NBA players to pipe down on political matters for what he termed “an unbelievable show of arrogance.”

From Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com:

“I don’t pick and choose what LeBron should talk about any more than any talking heads who try to pick and choose,” Popovich said Sunday afternoon. “To me, when I heard about that it was just an unbelievable show of arrogance for a talking head to try and tell someone else if they can speak, what they can speak about and when and where to do it. It’s just ludicrous.” […]

“To not have a feel for who this guy is — I mean, think about when he came into public view. How young was he? And to this day, he hasn’t missed a step. He hasn’t fallen off the ledge and, he’s been a brilliant example for millions of kids, especially kids with lesser opportunity and haven’t had the same advantages as others,” Popovich said. “They see in this guy, somebody who has consistently exhibited excellence in the workplace and gives them a voice and lets them know that you can speak about anything.

“There really is a First Amendment, and you can have opinions — as a coach, as a plumber, as an astrophysicist and a lowly reporter. They can have whatever opinions they want. And that’s what’s amazing about this, when you look at this guy — how many millions of dollars, tens of millions of dollars he’s given, tens of millions of kids that are inspired by him. It’s kind of like the ‘Black Panther’ movie. How cool is that for kids to see that, to have that superhero? Well, LeBron’s been that for a long time.

“For somebody to be totally numb to that and attack him in such a childish way really speaks more volumes about that individual than it does LeBron. He’s very, very special. We should all be very proud that we have someone like that who’s willing to speak about a variety of topics and you listen to them all.”

James — who, coincidentally, spoke during All-Star Weekend about his appreciation for “Black Panther” and the value of its representation — offered praise for Pop’s support after the Spurs’ 110-94 win over the Cavs on Sunday, and re-emphasized his belief in the importance of acting as a role model for young African-American kids.

“You guys know how much I love Pop,” James said. “For me as an athlete, and for me as a role model, I just try to do my part to help these kids and the youth understand how important their lives are, and [that] they can become anything in this world. No matter the negativity that may be going on around them, there’s always a brighter side.

“So, for me, while I have this platform, I’m going to continue to do that, and continue to lend my voice and lend my spirit and lend my inspiration to these kids. Because I know exactly what they’re going through. Because I was one of them at one point in time, not too long ago. Pop is definitely one of my all-time favorite people that I’ve ever crossed paths with in my life.”

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Dan Devine is a writer and editor for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at devine@oath.com or follow him on Twitter!

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