NBA commissioner: Athletes shouldn't just 'stick to sports'
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NBA commissioner Adam Silver called on athletes to use their voices to affect political change in remarks at an awards dinner Wednesday night, the same day the NFL announced a new policy aimed at ending kneeling protests during the national anthem.

Silver told an audience at the Sports Business Awards that he thinks that there's "never been a time" when sports and athletes were more important or relevant to national political discussions, the Sports Business Daily reported.

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"Whether it's issues of race and gender, health, mental wellness or technology in media, what we all do in this room matters day in and day out," he said.

"I encourage all of you not to stick to sports," Silver added. "Do not stick to sports. Embrace it, celebrate it, and let's use it to build bridges and bring people together."

The comments came just hours after the NFL unveiled new league rules aimed at stamping out football players' protests during the pre-game performance of "The Star-Spangled Banner." 

Team owners voted to allow the NFL commissioner to impose "appropriate discipline on league personnel who do not stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem,” fining players who participate in the protests against racial inequality and police brutality.

The protests, a frequent subject of complaint from the White House, have been a part of NFL games for the past two seasons.

Silver's remarks were also a shot at a now-famous quote from Fox News host Laura Ingraham, who lectured NBA star LeBron James in February over his comments about President TrumpDonald John TrumpKey takeaways from the Arizona Senate debate Major Hollywood talent firm considering rejecting Saudi investment money: report Mattis says he thought 'nothing at all' about Trump saying he may leave administration MORE, telling the Cleveland Cavaliers star to "keep the political commentary to yourself, or, as someone once said, 'shut up and dribble.' "

"Must they run their mouths like that? Unfortunately, a lot of kids and some adults take these ignorant comments seriously," she added. "This is what happens when you attempt to leave high school a year early to join the NBA. And it's always unwise to seek political advice from someone who gets paid $100 million a year to bounce a ball."

Many NBA fans and players called Ingraham's comments racist, causing the Fox News host to release a statement clarifying there was "no racial intent" to her remarks.

"There was no racial intent in my remarks — false, defamatory charges of racism are a transparent attempt to immunize entertainment and sports elites from scrutiny and criticism," she said in a statement.