Billionaire businessman and NBA owner Mark Cuban has responded to President Donald Trump’s both calling for NFL owners to “fire” players who protest during the national anthem and uninviting Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry from visiting the White House.
“I don’t think people realize how involved in the community every NBA and NFL team is,” Cuban told Business Insider in an email exchange Sunday. “We all have community programs and foundations and every single one of those groups has to get involved in politics in order to help get buildings built and programs organized with our communities. We work with our cities to push forward agendas.
“That’s one point,” Cuban continued. “The second point is that if you want to keep sports and politics separate, don’t accept money from anyone in sports.”
The latest Trump controversy began Friday night when, at an Alabama rally for Republican Sen. Luther Strange, Trump said players who knelt for or sat out the national anthem should be fired. Beginning last year with Colin Kaepernick, then a quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, a growing number of NFL players have knelt to shed light on the treatment of black Americans in the US.
“Get that son of a b—- off the field right now, out,” Trump said of players who kneel. “He’s fired. He’s fired!”
The president then doubled and tripled down on his comments Saturday and Sunday, blasting the NFL’s commissioner, Roger Goodell, for his statement denouncing Trump’s remarks and insisting that NFL ratings were declining because of the protests.
“Roger Goodell of NFL just put out a statement trying to justify the total disrespect certain players show to our country.Tell them to stand!” Trump tweeted Saturday.
“If NFL fans refuse to go to games until players stop disrespecting our Flag & Country, you will see change take place fast. Fire or suspend!” Trump tweeted Sunday morning, just before the day’s NFL games were set to begin.
After players on several teams locked arms during the national anthem in response to Trump’s derision, Trump tweeted that he was fine with players standing and locking arms during the national anthem but remained against kneeling during the event.
Trump’s comments earned the ire of many across the NFL. Numerous team owners – including Trump’s close friend Robert Kraft, the owner of the New England Patriots – condemned Trump’s comments. Kraft was one of seven NFL owners who individually contributed at least $1 million to Trump’s election effort. Trump also earned scorn from superstar basketball players such as LeBron James and Kobe Bryant for blasting Curry on Twitter.
Cuban, the owner of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks and star of ABC’s “Shark Tank,” then tweeted out his sentiment on politicians accepting donations from prominent figures in the sports world, such as the millionaire and billionaire NFL owners who supported Trump.
“Want to keep politics and sports separate?” Cuban tweeted. “Don’t accept donations from athletes, mgmt or owners. $$ speak far louder than taking a knee.”
Cuban has teased a possible 2020 presidential run. It remains unclear, if he were to run and challenge Trump, whether he would do so as a Democrat or an independent candidate.