Just as he pledged with the NFL and soccer, President Donald Trump declared on Wednesday he was done watching NBA games if players were going to protest racial injustice during the national anthem.
It didn’t take long for many of the league’s voices, including the face of the league, to say they were fine with that.
LeBron James on NBA’s reaction to Donald Trump: ‘We could care less’
Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James told reporters on Wednesday that he doesn’t think the basketball community will miss Trump as a viewer, then pointed to the presidential election in November as a big moment.
“I really don’t think the basketball community is sad about losing his viewership. That’s all I got to say. I already know where this could go, where it could lead to tomorrow for me. I’m not going to get into it, but I think our game is in a beautiful position and we have fans all over the world. 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 in acknowledging what’s right and what’s wrong.
I hope everyone, no matter the race, no matter the color, no matter the size, will see what leadership we have at the top in our country and understand that November is right around the corner. It’s a big moment for us as Americans.
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 care less.”
James has long been a critic of Trump, including on social media, so this is hardly a departure for the Lakers star. As the NBA season continues into the heart of the presidential race between Trump and Joe Biden, it’s likely James continue to speak out.
Other NBA voices brush off Trump criticism
A number of NBA players and coaches had a similar reaction to Trump, who said the league’s protests against racial injustice are “disgraceful” and that he turns off the game when he sees them kneeling during the anthem.
Los Angeles Clippers head coach Doc Rivers went as far as laughing off the president’s claim when asked about it. From Tania Ganguli of the Los Angeles Times:
“Well, we lost one guy. That’s my answer. I mean, so what? Like really, I don’t even care. We know that justice is on our side, right? This hat that I’m wearing is what our president is trying to get us to not do, which I think is just disgraceful.
Rivers was hearing a hat that read “Vote.”
New Orleans Pelicans guard J.J. Redick was saying something similar last week when Trump tweeted a similar proclamation about all sports:
“First of all, I don’t think anybody in the NBA cares if President Trump watches basketball. I couldn’t care less,” Redick told Yahoo Sports. “As far as his base, I think regardless of the specificity of tweeting about the NBA, every tweet of his is meant to divide, every tweet is meant to incite, every tweet is meant to embolden his base. So [last week] was no different.”
With only afew exceptions, nearly every player and coach in the NBA has taken a knee in the first games since the killing of George Floyd. Players in MLB, the NWSL, MLS, the WNBA and even a few in the NHL have also protested racial injustice during the anthem. That trend is almost certain to continue whenever the NFL season begins.
James calls out incident in Aurora, CO
The three-time MVP also had strong words over an incident in Aurora, Co. in which police officers detained four Black girls, one as young as six, at gunpoint and forced them to lie face down on hot pavement. The girls’ mother had been wrongly apprehended after police believed she had been driving a stolen vehicle. Video of the incident has since widely circulated, prompting an apology from the Aurora police chief.
James on the incident:
“Hurtful and disgraceful to see a family face down on the pavement, for, once again, I believe, being racially profiled ... We just want better as a Black community, we’re not asking for a lot for the s--- we went through the last 400 years. The fact that we’re just asking for equality is the low tier of what we deserve, to be completely honest.”
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