LeBron James is not backing down on his comments about President Donald Trump, and countless other players and coaches in the NBA made it clear at media days around the league Monday that they are equally fed up with what could perhaps be described as a pattern of actions from the White House that they would call divisive or worse.
Politics were the storyline of the NBA on the first official business day of the season for most of the league’s clubs. That was no surprise, given the events of a weekend that included Trump rescinding the champion Golden State Warriors’ invitation to the White House, James calling the president a “bum” and stars like union president Chris Paul speaking out in frustration.
But these tensions have been present for far more than one weekend, and they are bubbling now in the NBA like perhaps never before.
“We know this is the greatest country in the world,” said James, the Cleveland Cavaliers’ star. “It’s the land of the free. But we still have problems just like everybody else and when we have those problems, we have to figure out a way how we come together and be as great as we can be as a people.
“Because the people run this country. Not one individual. And damn sure not him.”
James referred to Trump as “that guy,” and defended his decision to call the president a “bum” – in what quickly became one of Twitter’s most-shared posts ever.
The name-calling didn’t end there: Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal called Trump “a clown” and Toronto Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan said the president is a “so-called leader.”
“I think the president brought a lot of this stuff on himself,” said DeRozan, who is American but plays in Canada. “He brought it on himself, he brought it on us as a country. … I feel no player is trying to disrespect anybody, no flag or anything like that, but we seem to be the ones who get all the disrespect from our so-called leader.”
Trump’s comments about the NFL and NBA come at a time where the government has obvious concerns about matters involving North Korea, the pledge many Republicans made to repeal and replace health care legislation, with a tax overhaul plan looming and with Florida, Texas and Puerto Rico all dealing with crippling effects of hurricanes in recent weeks.
Stars like James, Paul, Dwyane Wade and Carmelo Anthony have spoken openly about the need for societal change in the past, and each of them are continuing to use their platforms now.
James made it clear that will continue.
“He doesn’t understand the power that he has for being the leader of this beautiful country,” James said of Trump. “He doesn’t understand how many kids, no matter the race, look up to the President of the United State for guidance, for leadership, for words of encouragement. He doesn’t understand that and that’s what makes me more sick than anything.”