After President Donald Trump called the NBA players who kneel during the national anthem ‘disgraceful’ and that he’d change the channel if he saw it again, LeBron James had a simple message: boy, bye.
“I really don’t think the basketball community are sad about losing [President Donald Trump’s] viewership, him viewing the game,” LeBron James, 35, said on Wednesday (July 5), according to ESPN. “And that’s all I got to say,” he added, apparently not interested in getting into a back-and-forth with Trump, 74, over the president’s comments regarding NBA players kneeling during the national anthem. “I already know where this could go, where it could lead to for tomorrow for me. I’m not going to get into it,” said James.
“I think our game is in a beautiful position,” added LeBron, shifting the conversation away from Trump and more towards the upcoming presidential election. “[The NBA has] have fans all over the world, and our fans not only love the way we play the game, we try to give it back to them with our commitment to the game. But also respect what else we try to bring to the game and acknowledge it — what’s right and what’s wrong. And I hope everyone, no matter the race, no matter the color, no matter the size, will see what leadership that we have at the top in our country and understand that November is right around the corner and it’s a big moment for us as Americans.
“I really don’t think the basketball community are sad about losing his viewership.”
LeBron responded to President Trump saying NBA players kneeling during the anthem is "disgraceful." pic.twitter.com/LRiOP08pTL
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) August 6, 2020
“If we continue to talk about, ‘We want better, we want change,’ we have an opportunity to do that. But the game will go on without his eyes on it. I can sit here and speak for all of us that love the game of basketball: We could [not] care less,” added LeBron. When asked about Trump’s claims that, “with the possible exception of Abraham Lincoln,” he’d done more for Black people than no other president, LeBron scoffed. “You trying to make me laugh right now? I appreciate that.”
LeBron’s clap back comes after President Trump complained to Fox & Friends about seeing NBA players kneel in front of the “Black Lives Matter” message printed on the courts of the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex when the anthem has been played. “When I see people kneeling during the playing and disrespecting our flag and national anthem, what I do personally is turn off the game,” he said during the Wednesday morning phone call. “think it’s disgraceful. We work with [the NBA], we worked with them very hard trying to get open. I was pushing for them to get open. Then I see everybody kneeling during the anthem. That’s not acceptable to me. When I see them kneeling during the game, I just turn off the game. I have no interest in the game.”
LeBron, following the NBA restart on July 30, reminded everyone that kneeling during the anthem – a protest started by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick – is not about disrespecting the flag, but about protesting the number of Black men and women killed by police in America. “You go back and look at any of his postgame interviews when he talked about why he was kneeling, it had absolutely nothing to do about the flag, had absolutely nothing to do about the soldiers, the men, and women that keep our land free,” said LeBron, per ESPN. “He explained that, and the ears were uncomfortable. People never listened. They refused to listen, and I did. And a lot of my people in the Black community did listen, and we just thank him for sacrificing everything that he did.”