LeBron James is not backing down on his comments about President Donald Trump, and countless other players and coaches in the NBA made it clear during media days around the league Monday that they are equally fed up with what could perhaps be described as a pattern of actions from the White House that they would call divisive or worse.
Politics were the storyline of the NBA on the first official business day of the season for most of the league's clubs. That was no surprise, given the events of a weekend that included Trump rescinding the champion Golden State Warriors' invitation to the White House, James calling the president a “bum” and stars such as union president Chris Paul speaking out in frustration.
“We know this is the greatest country in the world,” said James, the Cleveland Cavaliers' star. “It's the land of the free. 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.”
These tensions have obviously been present for far more than one weekend, but they are bubbling now in the NBA like perhaps never before – with players in many cities Monday saying they were angered over the president's use of the line “son of a bitch,” cited last week during a rant about NFL players kneeling during the national anthem.
“You can't get more insulting than that,” Phoenix center Tyson Chandler said.
James referred to Trump as “that guy,” and defended his decision to tweet that the president is a “bum” – a post that quickly became one of Twitter's most-shared ever. The name-calling continued Monday: Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal said Trump is “a clown” and Toronto Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan said the president is a “so-called leader.”
“I think the president brought a lot of this stuff on himself,” said DeRozan.
Trump's comments about the NFL and NBA come at a time where the government has obvious concerns about matters involving North Korea, the pledge many Republicans made to repeal and replace health care legislation, with a tax overhaul plan looming and with Florida, Texas and Puerto Rico all dealing with crippling effects of hurricanes in recent weeks.
After deadly protests involving white nationalists in Charlottesville, Virginia, last month, Memphis Grizzlies coach David Fizdale has been actively trying to get Confederate symbols such as monuments removed from his city.
On Monday, Fizdale said it was Trump who is disrespecting military members, not athletes who protest in various ways.
“Look at what he's doing with North Korea putting our troops in danger right now instigating a war,” Fizdale said. “You know how many troops we have in South Korea and Japan that's in direct line with where (North Korea leader Kim Jong-Un) can fire missiles? Obviously the Gold Star family that lost their son ... I can keep going on this, guys, you know that.
“So when we talk about disrespecting our military, people need to take a look back at who's really disrespecting our military and who's really honoring our military by exercising their rights.”
Dealing with Trump-related matters may be particularly thorny in Orlando, Florida. Magic owner Rich DeVos' daughter-in-law, Betsy DeVos, is the Education Secretary.
“In all honesty, coming up with a quick answer would be doing a disservice to all of our fans and to the issue itself,” Magic President Jeff Weltman said.