LeBron James said the NBA at large will not miss President Donald Trump as a viewer after he commented about the league’s players who take a knee before games.
“I really don’t think the basketball community is sad about losing his viewership, him viewing the game,” James said following the Los Angeles Lakers‘ 105-86 loss to Oklahoma City on Wednesday night in the bubble. “And that’s all I got to say. I don’t want to … I’m not going to get into a … because I already know where this could go, where it could lead to for tomorrow for me. I’m not going to get into it.”
In an interview with Fox and Friends earlier Wednesday, Trump repeated his long-held view that kneeling during the anthem is disrespectful. “When I see people kneeling during the playing and disrespecting our flag and national anthem, what I do personally is turn off the game,” Trump said. “I think it’s disgraceful. We work with (the NBA), we worked with them very hard trying to get open. I was pushing for them to get open. Then I see everybody kneeling during the anthem. That’s not acceptable to me. When I see them kneeling during the game, I just turn off the game. I have no interest in the game.”
NBA players have shown their support for the causes of racial equality and social justice with messages, including Black Lives Matter, on the backs of their game jerseys. James alluded to the players’ unity as well when asked about Trump’s comments.
“I think our game is in a beautiful position and we have fans all over the world and 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,” he said. “But also respect what else we try to bring to the game and acknowledge it — what’s right and what’s wrong. And I hope everyone, no matter the race, no matter the color, no matter the size, will see what leadership that we have at the top in our country and understand that November is right around the corner and it’s a big moment for us as Americans. If we continue to talk about, ‘We want better, we want change,’ we have an opportunity to do that. But 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.”