Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James said on Wednesday he didn’t think the NBA would miss President Trump as a viewer after the president recently declared his lack of interest in the league due to kneeling players for the national anthem.
“I really don’t think the basketball community is sad to lose their audience watching the game,” James said after the Lakers’ 105-86 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder Wednesday night in Orlando, Florida, according to Mark Medina of the USA today.
“And that’s all I have to say. I don’t want to, I’m not going to get into a… because I already know where it could go, where it could lead tomorrow for me. I’m not going to go into it. ”
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In an interview with “Fox & Friends” last Wednesday, President Trump pushed professional athletes to their knees for the national anthem, calling it “shameful.”
“I think it’s shameful,” Trump said. “We work with them (the NBA), we’ve worked really hard with them to try to open up. I urged them to open up. Then I see everyone kneel down during the hymn. It is not acceptable to me. When I see them kneel down. I’m just quitting the game. I’m not interested in the game. Let me tell you this, lots of other people too. ”
Los Angeles Clippers head coach Doc Rivers also responded to the president’s comments during a conference call with reporters on Wednesday, according to Tania Ganguli of the Los Angeles Times. Rivers was captured on video wearing a hat with the words “VOTE” on it.
“We lost a guy. Like, really, I don’t care. We know justice is on our side, don’t we? “Rivers said. And this hat I’m wearing is what our president is trying to get us not to do, which I find just as shameful. ”
Trump has long been outspoken against kneeling athletes during the national anthem, a move that began in 2016 when San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who knelt during the national anthem to protest the racial inequality and police brutality.
The president took to Twitter last month to express his enthusiasm for returning to live sport after a hiatus during the coronavirus pandemic, but added that whenever he saw a player kneel, ” the game is over for me! ”
“I can’t wait to experience the sport, but every time I see a player kneeling during the national anthem, a sign of a great lack of respect for our country and our flag, the game is over for me! Trump wrote on July 21.
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Following the tweet, New Orleans Pelicans veteran JJ Redick said he didn’t think anyone in the league cared if Trump was watching them play.
“First of all, I don’t think anyone in the NBA cares about President Trump watching basketball. I don’t care, ”he told Yahoo Sports. “As to its base, I think regardless of the specificity of the NBA tweet, every tweet is meant to divide, every tweet is meant to incite, every tweet is meant to embolden its base. So [last week] was no different.
The NBA has an average of 1.86 million viewers on ABC, ESPN and TNT through Monday, up about 15% from when the league suspended its season in March, according to Sports Media Watch, which has cited Nielsen estimates. While these numbers might be considered normal after such a long hiatus from sport, they also coexisted with the coverage of the local regional sports network.
In June, the NBA and the players’ union agreed that shedding light on social justice issues would be a common goal as the 22-team season resumes in Orlando. “Black Lives Matter” can be seen printed on the field during matches.
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“The league and the players are in a unique position to have a direct impact on the fight against systemic racism in our country, and we are committed to collective action to build a more equitable and just society,” said the commissioner of the NBA, Adam Silver. “A common goal of resuming our season will be to use our platform in Orlando to bring attention to these important social justice issues. ”
Fox News’ Ryan Gaydos and Paulina Dedaj contributed to this report