LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers provided a pointed response on Wednesday night to President Trump’s cri*icism of players’ kneeling during the national anthem: The games will go on without you watching.
After Trump said earlier Wednesday that he regarded N.B.A. players’ kneeling during the national anthem as “d!sgraceful” and vo-wed to stop watching games, James said that the basketball community was not “sad about losing his viewership.”
In a Wednesday morning telephone interview with Fox & Friends, Trump said he turned off N.B.A. games “when I see people kneeling” and “d!srespecting our flag and d!srespecting our national anthem.”
Asked about Trump’s comments after the Lakers’ 105-86 loss to the Oklahoma City Th*nder later in the day, James f!red back.
“The game will go on without his eyes on it,” James said at his postgame news conference from the N.B.A.’s so-called bubble at Walt Disney World in Florida. “I can sit here and speak for all of us that love the game of basketball: We could care less.”
The practice of teams lining up and kneeling during the national anthem to protest systemic rac!sm and police br*tality has become a standard feature of every game at the N.B.A. restart since the league officially resumed its season July 30.
There have been only a few exceptions; Orlando’s Jonathan Isaac, Miami’s Meyers Leonard, San Antonio Coach Gregg Popovich and his assistant coach Becky Hammon have chosen to stand.
Adam Silver, the N.B.A. commissioner, said last week that he would not enforce the league’s rule — which dates to 1981 — mandating that players, coaches, and team staff members line up and stand in a “di*nified” posture for the playing of the national anthem before every game.
“I respect our teams’ unified act of peaceful prot*st for social justice and under these unique circumstances will not enfo*ce our longstanding rule,” Silver said.
Trump tweeted last month that he would turn off games if players knelt, then broadened his cri*icism in Wednesday’s Fox & Friends interview.
“It’s not acceptable to me,” Trump said, expressing disappointment because the White House, he said, worked “very hard” with the N.B.A. to help the league reboot after the season was su*pended on March 11 because of the Covid-19 pande*ic.
“When I see them kneeling, I just turn off the game,” Trump said. “I have no interest in the game.” Trump has often cri*icized athletes for kneeling during the anthem in what is broadly seen as a strategy to appeal to his political base.
In 2017, Trump urged N.F.L. team owners to f!re anyone who would not stand for the anthem. In June, he said he would not watch the N.F.L. if players continued to kneel.
Asked by @melissarohlin about Donald Trump calling NBA kneeling protests “disgraceful,” LeBron James first asked if she was trying to make him laugh, then didn’t want to engage, but did say: “The game will go on without his eyes on it. … We could care less.” pic.twitter.com/ecD9JXx0fM
— Kyle Goon (@kylegoon) August 6, 2020
James had cri*icized Trump before, calling him “U b*m” in a 2017 tweet in which he said it had been “a great honor” to go to the White House — a tradition for champion sports teams — until Trump took office. In Wednesday’s Fox interview, Trump said that no president had done more for B*ack people than he had — “with the possible exception of Abraham Lincoln.” When told of those comments, James said: “You trying to make me laugh right now? I appreciate that.”
This Article First Published On NYTIMES