LOS ANGELES, United States, Sep 25 – LeBron James said Monday he did not regret branding President Donald Trump a “bum”, accusing the US leader of dividing the nation in his feud with the sports world.
NBA star James had taken aim at Trump on Twitter on Saturday after the president withdrew a White House invitation to the champion Golden State Warriors and star player Stephen Curry.
“U bum @StephenCurry30 already said he ain’t going! So therefore ain’t no invite. Going to White House was a great honor until you showed up!” James wrote.
Asked if he regretted his choice of words on Monday, the Cleveland Cavaliers star gave a blunt response: “No.”
In a press conference at the Cavaliers’ pre-season media day, James repeatedly referred to Trump as “that guy”, saying he had failed to bring the country together.
“First of all, I salute the NFL, the coaches, the players, the owners, the fans. Everyone had any association with the NFL was unbelievable,” James told reporters at NBA Media Day. “There was no divide. Even from that guy that continues to try to divide us as people.
“We know this is the greatest country in the world, this is the land of the free,” James said. “But we still have problems just like everybody else. And when we have those problems, we have to figure out a way to 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 added, referring to Trump.
– ‘Salute the NFL’ –
James, the highest profile star in the NBA, had words of praise for the way NFL players had rallied together in protest at Trump on Sunday.
“First of all, I salute the NFL, the coaches, the players, the owners, the fans. Everyone had any association with the NFL was unbelievable,” James said.
“There was no divide. Even from that guy that continues to try to divide us as people.”
Trump’s reaction to NFL players who protest during the national anthem showed he did not know how to lead the nation, James added.
“He doesn’t understand the power that he has for being the leader of this beautiful country,” James said.
“He doesn’t understand how many kids, no matter the race, look up to the President of the United States for guidance, for leadership, for words of encouragement.
“He doesn’t understand that. That’s what makes me more sick than anything,” added James, insisting that Trump had misunderstood the nature of the NFL protests, which were launched by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback to draw attention to racial injustice.
“It’s powerful what all these athletes are doing. It’s not about disrespect for the flag and military and people who served,” he said.
“It’s about equality and having the option and freedom to speak about things they feel are unjust.”
James meanwhile did not rule out the possibility of similar protests by NBA players next month when the league resumes.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if something trickled down to the NBA if no change happened between now and (October) the 17th,” James said.