During a wide-ranging discussion captured in a video released Thursday, LeBron James and Kevin Durant touched on the political situation in the United States. The pair of NBA superstars shared their dislike for Donald Trump, with James saying the president doesn’t “give a f— about the people.”
The scene, produced by James’s Uninterrupted multimedia platform, was filmed the night before his Cleveland Cavaliers hosted Durant’s Golden State Warriors last month on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. They sat in the back seat of a car, riding around James’s hometown of Akron, Ohio, as ESPN anchor Cari Champion drove and led the conversation.
Saying that “we are at a watershed moment in this country’s history, and we cannot deny that we are very divided, especially in the political arena,” Champion reminded James that he called Trump a “bum” in September, which occurred shortly after Durant and his Warriors teammates indicated that they didn’t want to make the traditional NBA championship winners’ visit to the White House. Champion asked how the players would describe “the climate for an athlete with a platform” who wants to “talk about what’s happening in our world.”
“The climate is hot,” James replied. He said that for the “No. 1 job in America,” the “appointed person” is “someone who doesn’t understand the people, and really don’t give a f— about the people.”
“When I was growing up, there were, like, three jobs that you looked to for inspiration, or you felt like these were the people that could give me life,” James continued. “It was the president of the United States, it was whoever was the best in sports, and then it was like the greatest musician at the time. You never thought you could be them, but you could grab inspiration from them. If there was a neighborhood African American cop, and he was cool as hell coming around, I felt like I could be him.
“I never felt like I could be the president of the United States, but I grabbed inspiration from that. At this time right now, with the president of the United States, it’s at a bad time, and while we cannot change what comes out of that man’s mouth, we can continue to alert the people that watch us, that listen to us, that this is not the way.”
Durant then chimed in, saying that with “what’s going on in our country, it’s all about leadership, and I learned that playing basketball — I learned a lot of life skills from playing basketball.”
“You need to empower people, you need to encourage people, and that’s what builds a great team,” Durant said. “And I feel like our team, as a country, is not run by a great coach.”
“It’s not even a surprise when he says something,” James said of Trump. “It’s laughable.”
“It’s laughable, but it’s also scary, because I shouldn’t be numb to your racist comments,” Champion interjected, to sounds of approval from James and Durant.
James has been a frequent critic of Trump, and before that Cavs-Warriors game, he expressed his unhappiness for the president without referring to Trump by name. “We are in a difficult state right now as Americans, with the leader of our country,” James said at the time, adding that “we all have to continue to come together and shine a brighter light on — I don’t want to use the word stupidity, but that’s basically what it comes down to.”
In August, James said that Trump “just made [hate] fashionable again.” During Thursday’s video, Champion brought up a painful experience for the Cavs star when she mentioned how some people think that being “a black man with money … makes you numb to the experience” of racism.
“I’m a black man with a bunch of money, and having a crib in Brentwood [Calif.] and having the word n—– spray-painted over my gate, that lets you know I ain’t too far removed,” James said. “And I’ve still got a lot more work to do.”
He was referring to an incident in May, when Los Angeles police launched an investigation into a possible hate crime after a home owned by James was vandalized with a racial slur. James said in the video that “no matter how much money or access, or how high you become in life as an African American man or female, they will always try to figure out a way to let you know that you’re still beneath them.”
Elsewhere in the video, James and Durant reminisced about their initial experiences in youth basketball — Durant described it as “love at first sight” — as well as thoughts on the NBA’s All-Star Game and the pressures and expectations related to success. Meanwhile, Laura Ingraham of Fox News spent a few moments Thursday reacting with disdain to the players’ discussion.
“Must they run their mouths like that? Unfortunately, a lot of kids, and some adults, take these ignorant comments seriously,” she told viewers. “ … Oh, and LeBron and Kevin: you’re great players, but no one voted for you. Millions elected Trump to be their coach.
“So keep the political commentary to yourself, or as someone once said, ‘Shut up and dribble.’ ”
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