LeBron James spoke his mind at the Cleveland Cavaliers’ media day on Monday, covering topics including the widespread protests during Sunday’s NFL games and his criticism of President Donald Trump.
Over the weekend Trump lashed out at NFL players who chose to kneel during the national anthem to protest racial inequality and police brutality – saying they should be fired.
When asked to comment on the demonstrations during the national anthem at Sunday’s games, James said he saluted “the NFL, the coaches, the players, the owners, the fans,” and added: “There was solidarity; there was no divide. Even from that guy that continues to try to divide us.
“My job is, and my calling is, much bigger than that guy,” he added, referring to Trump. “I don’t even like saying his name.”
James spoke about the power of sport to bring different people together and expressed his frustration with the president for attempting to use it to divide:
“It’s so amazing what sports can do for everyone. No matter the shape or size or race or ethnicity or religion or whatever, people find teams, people find players, people find colors because of sport, and they just gravitate toward that, and it just makes them so happy. And it brings people together like none other.
“And we’re not gonna let – I’m not gonna let, while I have this platform – to let one individual, no matter the power, no matter the impact that he should have or she should have, ever use sport as a platform to divide us.”
As for his role at the intersection of politics and sports, James said: “My voice and what I do in my community and what I stand for – I don’t think that I have to show you guys more by getting on a knee … It’s not about the disrespect of the flag and our military and everybody that has made this world free; it is about equality and people having the option and the freedom to speak upon things they feel that’s not just.”
James went as far as to say that Trump voters may have made a mistake.
“No matter if you voted for him or not – and you may have made a mistake, and that’s OK,” James said. “If you voted for him, that’s OK. I mean, I’ve done things for my kids and realized I shouldn’t have gave my daughter that many damn Skittles.”
When asked whether he regretted calling Trump a “bum” on Twitter, James simply said, “No,” and laughed about Trump’s disinviting Stephen Curry, the Golden State Warriors star, to the White House after Curry repeatedly said he was uninterested in going.
He criticized Trump for not appreciating the influence of his position in the Oval Office.
“He doesn’t understand how many kids, no matter their race, look up to the president of the United States for guidance, for leadership, for words of encouragement,” James said.
James finished by saying he had faith in the country and its people, while also offering one final rebuke of the president.
“We know this is the greatest country in the world – it’s 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 how we 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.”
You can watch James’ comments below.