When Fox News anchor Laura Ingraham told LeBron James and other Black athletes to “shut up and dribble,” back in 2018 she never thought she was tossing him a dime.
Turns out, she may have given him a lot more than that. James, the Los Angeles Lakers star who for the last decade has built an entrepreneurial empire outside of basketball, has filed for a trademark on the phrase through is company, Uninterrupted Inc., according to USA Today.
We’re not sure exactly what LeBron plans to do with this intellectual property gem that was originally intended to demean and silence him. USA Today reports that shoes, accessories, sporting goods, digital media and even products for the metaverse could all be in play based on the trademark application. Let’s use our imagination, shall we?
The low hanging fruit could be a line of apparel featuring the phrase next to pictures of various Fox personalities. Tucker Carlson’s unceasing I’m-dumb-and-punchable face? Shut up and dribble. Jeanine Pirro’s timeless did -somebody-fart-while-I-was-ranting mug? Shut up and dribble. You could buy the same fit for your metaverse avatar so people in the real world and the virtual one know not to come for you.
James has also made his mark as a scripted TV, movie and documentary director, so maybe the play is video content under the ‘Shut Up and Dribble” banner. A podcast featuring Colin Kaepernick, Eric Reid or retired WNBA star turned Atlanta Dream owner Renee Montgomery, all of whom are outspoken Black athletes who the Right loathes for refusing to be talented mutes for the entertainment of others would go well here.
There’s a lot a ways this could go, but maybe the best answer is for it to go nowhere at all. For years, to the chagrin of people like Ingraham and her viewers, James has shown that his real power is off the court. He rewrote the rules of NBA free agency and shifted an enormous amount of power away from owners and into the hands of star players, who now have a great deal of sway over where they play, who coaches them, their teams’ rosters and how much they stand to make.
James pioneered leveraging his status as an elite pro athlete to secure ownership in companies that wanted him to just be an endorser, as explained in this ESPN the Magazine story (which I originally edited) circa 2013. He counts the the English Premier League’s Liverpool soccer club among the entities he has a piece of and Warren Buffet among his mentors and business partners.
In other words, LeBron doesn’t really need to trademark “Shut up and dribble,” but one of his biggest flexes might be to just remind Laura Ingraham once a year that he literally owns the words that came out of her mouth.