Donald Trump has taken aim at LeBron James ahead of Game 5 of the NBA Finals, labelling him “nasty” and a “hater” in an extraordinary rant.
Trump called in to Rush Limbaugh’s radio show on Friday to fire back at LeBron, who has been heavily critical of the President and once called him a “bum.”
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“LeBron is a spokesman for the Democratic party and a very nasty spokesman,” Mr Trump told the conservative talk show host.
“He’s a great basketball player but people don't want to see a guy that way. They don't want to see that.
“We have enough difficulty during the week, you don't want to sit down watching a basketball game and then watch somebody that hates your guts. He’s a hater.”
Trump also pointed out the NBA’s declining viewership numbers for the Finals series, saying “nobody’s watching”.
“The NBA has become so political that nobody cares about it anymore,” Trump said.
“Nobody’s watching it. I don’t even know who is playing in the Finals. I don’t know anybody who is watching the NBA.
“I look at it, and I look at the NBA, and I can’t watch it, and nobody’s watching it. Their ratings are down the tubes.
“I’m telling you, I haven’t watched a basketball game in a long time, and I have no interest in doing it.”
In September Trump said he wouldn’t watch the NBA while players continue to take a knee.
James said he was perfectly fine with Trump not watching.
“I really don’t think the basketball community is sad about losing his viewership,” James said.
“The game will go on without his eyes on it.”
NBA Finals ratings hit new low
A trend of low ratings throughout the NBA postseason has reached the NBA Finals. And hit it hard.
That was reportedly the lowest viewership seen for the Finals since at least 1994, when total viewers began to be regularly recorded.
The number was down 45 percent from last year’s game one between the Golden State Warriors and Toronto Raptors, which had 13.51 million viewers.
This is the fourth-straight year game one viewership has gone down compared to the previous season.
The previous low for the Finals was reportedly 8.06 million in game three of the 2007 NBA Finals.
That was the third game of a sweep by the San Antonio Spurs of the Cleveland Cavaliers, LeBron James’ first Finals appearance.
Critics claim the declining numbers are directly related to the political statements being made by players.
“The NBA is engaged in a concerted effort to (1) insult their fans & (2) turn every game into a left-wing political lecture,” Republican Senator Ted Cruz wrote on Twitter recently, using the hashtag “GoWokeGoBroke”.
However others have pointed out that the MLB Playoffs and start of the new NFL season have taken viewers away.
The coronavirus crisis meant the NBA Finals are being held at an unusually late time of year in direct competition with rival sports.
“Going up head-to-head with the NFL and MLB post-season is a first, and the competition has had a negative effect on audience delivery,” media consultant Brad Adgate told the Front Office Sports website.
with Yahoo Sports staff
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