LeBron James, one of the highest-paid sports stars in the US, has waded in the midst of an ongoing row between the White House and basketball and American Football athletes.
James called Donald Trump a “bum” after the US president criticised rival basketball player Stephen Curry – after Curry’s comments made it clear that he is not interested in a traditional White House trip for the NBA champions.
Trump responded on Twitter by rescinding Curry’s invitation.
Going to the White House is considered a great honor for a championship team.Stephen Curry is hesitating,therefore invitation is withdrawn!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 23, 2017
Curry’s team, the Golden State Warriors, won last year’s league and were expected to visit the White House in celebration.
The 29-year-old said on Friday that he did not want to visit but admitted his position was difficult because he does not represent the whole team.
“I don’t want to go,” Curry said.
Pete Souza, Barack Obama’s White House photographer posted a photo of the then president with Curry on Saturday morning.
“President Obama with Steph Curry last year at the White House,” Souza wrote. “The President was ‘helping’ Steph with his jump shot release.”
Meanwhile, the National Football League and its players’ union on Saturday angrily denounced Trump for suggesting that owners fire players who kneel during the national anthem and that fans consider walking out in protest “when somebody disrespects our flag.”
“Divisive comments like these demonstrate an unfortunate lack of respect for the NFL, our great game and all of our players,” the league commissioner, Roger Goodell, said in a statement.
DeMaurice Smith, executive director of the NFL Players Association, tweeted: “We will never back down. We no longer can afford to stick to sports.”
We will never back down. We no longer can afford to stick to sports. pic.twitter.com/Ec3Bc4qt9h— DeMaurice Smith (@DeSmithNFLPA) September 23, 2017
Several athletes, including a handful of NFL players, have refused to stand for the US national anthem in protest over the treatment of blacks by police.
Quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who started the trend last year when he played for the San Francisco 49ers, hasn’t been signed by an NFL team for this season.
Trump, who once owned the New Jersey Generals of the US Football League, said those players are disrespecting the American flag and deserve to lose their jobs.
“That’s a total disrespect of our heritage. That’s a total disrespect of everything that we stand for,” Trump said, encouraging owners to act.
“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, you’d say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He’s fired,” Trump said to loud applause.