Last Saturday, LeBron James pulled no punches after President Trump said Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors were no longer welcome to celebrate their NBA title at the White House. He called Trump a “bum.”
James didn’t back down from his statement Monday while speaking to reporters at the Cleveland Cavaliers’ media day.
“The people run this country, not one individual — and damn sure not him,” he said. “As I have this platform and I have a way to inspire … I will lend my voice, I will lend my passion and my money, I will lend my resources to my youth and my inner city and outside of my inner city to let these kids know that there is hope, there’s greater walks of life, and not one individual, no matter if it’s the president of the United States or if it’s someone in your household, can stop your dreams from becoming reality.”
A whole lot of people approved of James’s tweet: It got 1.5 million likes and was retweeted more than 650,000 times, which smashed his previous Twitter marks. But, as should be expected in today’s disharmonious political climate, there also was some blowback. Cavs owner Dan Gilbert saw and heard it firsthand.
“I received voice mails after LeBron tweeted that were some of the most vile, disgusting, racist [messages],” Gilbert said Friday on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.” “There’s an element of racism that I didn’t even realize existed in this country this much.
“The thing is, I mean, some of the most disgusting things I’ve ever heard people say,” Gilbert continued. “And you could hear it in their voice — the racism. It wasn’t even really about the issue, and that’s what really got me, because they went to who they really are, some of them.”
As noted by ESPN’s Dave McMenamin, Gilbert has had his issues with James and shown his support of Trump in the past. The billionaire businessman donated $750,000 to Trump’s inauguration — he and his wife also donated to Hillary Clinton’s campaign last year, however — and Trump called him a “great friend” and “huge supporter” earlier this year. But he’s siding with his superstar, it seems, as McMenamin reports that Gilbert told team staffers this week that he was proud of James for taking a stand
“Professional athletes, owners and the leagues themselves, as well as the country, would greatly benefit from an open, inclusive dialogue that would allow the expression of all views and concerns that have recently become hot topics in professional sports,” he said in a statement released this week.
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