LeBron James has brushed off U.S. President Donald Trump’s latest tirade against players kneeling during the national anthem, saying the broader basketball community wouldn’t miss his viewership.
Trump has long campaigned against athletes kneeling during the national anthem, notably speaking out against NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, whose anthem demonstrations ultimately resulted in him being blackballed from the league.
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NBA players from all teams in the league’s Orlando bubble, with a few notable exceptions, have been taking a knee prior to each game - prompting Trump to label them ‘disgraceful’ and accuse the players of ‘disrespecting the flag’.
Taking a knee during the anthem has never been a commentary on the American flag or military, rather a peaceful protest against police brutality.
James was dismissive of the President’s remarks that he had done more for the black community, other than Abraham Lincoln.
“Trying to make me laugh right now? I appreciate that,” James replied to a reporter who brought the comment up on Wednesday.
He would take a more serious tone when asked about Trump’s comments about the kneeling protests, saying the upcoming presidential election November would be a decisive moment for the country.
LeBron James said the NBA community doesn't care about President Trump turning off their games: pic.twitter.com/z6SMssoUfy— USA TODAY Sports (@usatodaysports) August 6, 2020
“I really don’t think the basketball community are sad about losing his viewership, him viewing the game,” James said.
“We could care less. The game will go on without his eyes on it. I can sit here and speak for all of us who love the game of basketball and we could care less.”
LeBron James hails international NBA audience
The Los Angeles Lakers superstar said the NBA’s influence reached far beyond just America, making Trump’s erroneous claims about dwindling ratings redundant.
James said the league had become an international product.
“Our game is in a beautiful position and we’ve got fans all over the world,” James said.
“November is right around the corner and it’s a big moment for us as Americans.
“We talk about we want better, we want change, and we will have (that opportunity).”
James wasn’t the only high-profile NBA voice to outright dismiss Trump’s claims, with league great and Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers not fussed about losing the president’s viewership.
“Well, we lost one guy,” Rivers said.
“We know that justice is on our side.
“This hat that I’m wearing is what our President is trying to get us to not to, which I think is just as disgraceful.”