UPDATED 8/5, 10:45 a.m. ET: LeBron James responded to Trump calling NBA players "disgraceful" for kneeling during the national anthem to protest white supremacy and police violence.
"I really don't think the basketball community are sad about losing his viewership," James said following the Lakers' game against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday night.
LeBron James on Donald Trump saying he won’t watch any more NBA games because people have kneeled to protest systemic racism during the national anthem: “I really don’t think the basketball community are sad about losing his viewership.” pic.twitter.com/l9sP7LiFsi— Mark Medina (@MarkG_Medina) August 6, 2020
See original story below.
Most NBA players have been kneeling during the National Anthems since the NBA restarted, and as you might expect, Donald Trump isn't happy about it. During a Wednesday morning appearance on Fox News, Trump called NBA players who kneeled "disgraceful"
"I think it's disgraceful," he said when asked what he thinks of the "state of the league" on Wednesday's episode of Fox & Friends. "We work with them, we work with them very hard trying to get them opened... I was pushing them to get open, and then I see everybody kneeling during the anthem. It's not acceptable to me, when I see them kneeling I just turn off the game, I have no interest in the game."
His comments only became more ridiculous from there. "And Black Lives Matter—Nobody's done better for our Black community than me, nobody and... With the possible exception of Abraham Lincoln it's true," he said. "Nobody has done more for the Black community by far. I would say nobody other than give the one exception, Abraham Lincoln, okay? But even that, I mean to be honest with you... But nobody has done more than I have."
Trump then circled back to his thoughts on kneeling during the National Anthem.
"When I see people kneeling during the playing, and disrespecting our flag and disrespecting our National Anthem... What I do personally is turn off the game," he added. "And the ratings for the basketball are way down, if you know." He suggested that MLB ratings are down, too, due to kneeling protests. "We gotta stand up for our flag, we have to stand up for our country, we have to stand up for our anthem, and a lot of people agree with me. Hey if I'm wrong, I'm gonna lose an election, okay? And that's okay with me."
While Trump claims ratings for the NBA are down, according to Nielsen, ratings for the seeding games over the weekend were up 14 percent compared to the average audience for the 2019-20 season across ABC, ESPN and TNT.