LeBron James is focused on Hollywood, his new home, and not Washington, and he says he isn’t bothered about having his intelligence questioned by President Trump over the summer.
The Los Angeles Lakers' new star is always, it seems, going to be asked about an interview he did with CNN’s Don Lemon after his I Promise School opened in July in Akron, Ohio. Trump had tweeted that James had been “interviewed by the dumbest man on television” and that Lemon “made LeBron look smart, which isn’t easy to do.”
It was a dig that did not get under James’s skin. Now settled in California and preparing for a side career that will involve things like a “Space Jam” sequel, he was asked by the Hollywood Reporter if he was bothered by being called dumb and, with a laugh, he replied, “No, because I’m not."
“That’s like somebody saying I can’t play ball,” he continued. "That doesn’t bother me at all. What bothers me is that he has time to even do that. He has the most powerful job in the world. Like, you really got this much time that you can comment on me?”
James has become increasingly outspoken about police brutality and social injustice since the recent shootings of unarmed black men, the NBA’s Donald Sterling crisis and Trump’s election. He is part of Nike’s new ad campaign featuring Colin Kaepernick, and so is Serena Williams, another Nike client who has become increasingly vocal about social issues and gender and racial inequality. Williams was the focus of controversy earlier this month after being penalized during the championship match of the U.S. Open. She lost but used the moment to send a larger message about what she believes is a double standard in her sport.
“What we all have to understand is what she is fighting for is bigger than just that match,” said James, who noted he is more sensitive since becoming the father of a daughter almost four years ago. “She is fighting for equality — always having to win more, more, more, just to feel equal. Being an African-American woman playing in a predominantly white sport, she’s dealing with so much more. I have no idea what was going on in her head, but I feel that struggle.”
It’s a struggle that has gotten more attention since Trump’s election and, in the interview with Lemon, James criticized Trump for “dividing us” over race.
"We are in a position right now in America where this race thing has taken over … because I believe our president is kind of trying to divide us,” James told CNN. Questioned by Lemon about the use of a qualifier, James modified his response.
“Is. Is. I don’t want to say ‘kind of.’ He’s dividing us,” James said of Trump, whom he once called a bum. “And what I’ve noticed over the last few months, he’s kind of used sport to kind of divide us. And that’s something that I can’t relate to, because I know that sport was the first time I ever was around someone white. I got an opportunity to see them and learn about them, and they got an opportunity to learn about me and we became very good friends. I was like, ‘Wow, this is all because of sports.’
“Sports has never been something that divides people,” James said. “It’s always been something that brings [people] together.”
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