NBA star LeBron James says the league won’t miss Donald Trump’s viewership after the US President criticized players for kneeling during the national anthem.
Following the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, NBA players have been vocal in their calls for social justice and, as the season resumed last week, every player knelt during the national anthem, wearing Black Lives Matter T-shirts.
However, in an interview with Fox on Wednesday, Trump said it was “not acceptable” for athletes to take a knee, adding that he’d been an advocate for the sport to resume amid the pandemic.
He also repeated his claim that no one, apart from possibly Abraham Lincoln, had done more to help the Black community.
“Are you trying to make me laugh right now?” Los Angeles Lakers star James told reporters on Wednesday, when he was told of Trump’s comments.
“I really don’t think the basketball community [is] sad about losing his viewership.”
Despite saying he didn’t want to go into his thoughts on Trump, James encouraged people to use November’s election race as a chance to vote for “change.”
“I hope everyone, no matter the race, no matter the color, no matter their sides, see what leadership that we have at the top of our country and understand that November is right around the corner, and it’s a big moment for us as Americans,” he said.
“If we continue to talk about what 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 [couldn’t] care less.”
James has been one of the most vocal voices in the fight against racial injustice and, along with a host of fellow stars back in June, formed the campaign “More Than A Vote,” which aimed to protect Black voting rights.
While acknowledging the NBA had been supportive of the BLM movement, James has continued to call for more change.
“In the past when we’ve seen progress, we’ve let our foot off the gas a little bit. We can’t do that.,” he said last month.
NBA donates $300m
On Wednesday, the NBA announced it was donating $300 million to establish the first-ever NBA Foundation to support Black communities.
Over the next 10 years, the funding will go towards supporting “three critical employment transition points: obtaining a first job, securing employment following high school or college, and career advancement once employed.”
James was speaking to reporters after his LA Lakers side lost to Oklahoma City Thunder as the league continues its return following its suspension on March 11 due to the pandemic.
The world’s top players are currently residing at Disney World in Orlando, Florida, with the sport creating a “bubble” around the teams.