NBA superstar, LeBron James is of the opinion that President Donald Trump is using sports to divide them rather than bring them together.
James spoke to CNN just before the opening of his “I Promise School” in his hometown, Akron, Ohio. Questioned by CNN’s Don Lemon about the use of a qualifier, James modified his response.
“We are in a position right now in America where this race thing has taken over . . . because I believe our president is kinda trying to divide us.
“I don’t want to say ‘kind of.’ He’s dividing us,” James said of Trump. “And what I’ve noticed over the last few months, he’s kinda used sport to kinda 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.”
When asked what he would say to Trump if he were sitting across from him, he replied: “I would never sit across from him. I’d sit across from Barack [Obama], though.”
For James, sports is a connecting factor with a common goal.
“I live in sports and without sports I wouldn’t be here, talking to you,” he said. “Sports – it stops race. Every race comes together for one common goal and that’s to win and to have fun and to have camaraderie and things like that. For someone or a body of parties to try to divide us by using our platform of sport – sport has given me everything that I’ve ever asked for, so I couldn’t let that happen.”
James traced his growing advocacy to the “Trayvon Martin situation,” mentioning the 17-year-old who was shot to death in Florida in 2012 when James was playing for the Miami Heat. Now, James has a son who is a teenager, and another on the cusp of his teens.
“What if my boy left home and never returned? That kind of hit a switch for me,” he told CNN. “From that point on, I knew that my voice and my platform had to be used for more than just sports.”
President Trump has been outspoken on a number of issues related to sport, especially the protests undertaken by large numbers of National Football League players last season during the US national anthem in statements against the treatment of African Americans.
For Trump, kneeling during the anthem is unacceptable and has gone so far as to say those players “maybe shouldn’t be in the country”.