Donald Trump: NBA Players are ‘Very Nasty,’ ‘Very Dumb’

Donald Trump, who called NBA players 'dumb'

Getty Donald Trump, who called NBA players 'dumb'

From almost the beginning of President Donald Trump’s foray into politics, he has been at odds with the bulk of players and coaches from around the NBA. On Tuesday, he stooped to personally insulting players in the league, calling them, “dumb.”

Speaking on Fox Sports’ Outkick with Clay Travis, Trump laid into NBA players, who have been especially outspoken politically in the league’s return to action, routinely kneeling for the national anthem and donning Black Lives Matter T-shirts. Trump has been at odds with NBA players before, and players have responded in kind, though Trump claimed he did not notice the criticism of players.

President Donald Trump joins Clay Travis: Return of Pro Sports, NBA-China, Biden VP pick, and CFBThe President of the United States, Donald Trump, joined Clay on Outkick the Coverage on Fox Sports Radio to discuss the world of sports. 1:15 Clay welcomes the President 1:28 President's thoughts on Tom Brady moving to Tampa Bay 2:35 President's confidence on NFL returning 3:14 Clay asks if the President has talked with owners…2020-08-11T12:58:03Z

“I haven’t noticed them sending things back to me but I will say that, you know, I wouldn’t be that surprised,” Trump said, “as some are very nasty, very, very nasty and frankly very dumb. But I haven’t noticed that.”

Trump, as he so often does, fell back on television ratings as the ultimate arbiter of right and wrong. He claimed that the NBA’s television ratings since the league began its restart in late June have slumped because of players kneeling during the anthem.

“They know my feelings very well,” Trump said. “They’ve been expressed. I think it’s been horrible for basketball. Look at the ratings. They’re down, they’re down to very low numbers. Very, very low. People are angry about it. They don’t realize they don’t want—they have enough politics with guys like me. They don’t need more as they’re driving down, going up for a shot.”

There’s no evidence that is the case—the NBA had been seeing a dip in ratings even before the league went on hiatus at the start of the coronavirus outbreak in March. The league’s ratings in the restart have been at least on par with those before the break and its national broadcasting partners—ABC/ESPN and TNT—have been sharing broadcasts with regional outlets.

NBA’s TV Ratings Have Outpaced NHL

Trump went on to compare the NBA, which is primarily composed of black players, to the NHL, which is mostly white. He claimed that the NHL, “is doing very well.”

“There was a nastiness about the NBA, the way it was done, too,” Trump said. “So I think they, the NBA is in trouble. I think it’s in big trouble. Bigger trouble than they understand. And frankly, ice hockey, which is doing very well, they didn’t do that. They respected the mores. They respected what they’re supposed to be doing. And they’re actually doing very well as I understand it.”

In fact, the NHL is not close to drawing the number of viewers that the NBA is. For hockey’s re-opening doubleheader, NBC drew 1.3 million viewers, according to CNBC, with a peak of about 2 million. On the NBA’s re-opening night, TNT averaged 2.9 million viewers, with a peak of more than 4 million.

Trump Hits NBA for Bowing to China

Trump also continued to poke at the NBA’s relationship with China, which has proven to be a weak point in the league’s more general call for social justice in the U.S. While players and coaches around the league have taken a stance against a variety of issues in this country—most notably on the issue of police violence against minority groups—the league has been silent on the issue of extensive human rights violations in China.

China has been an important partner for the NBA’s growth as a juggernaut on the international sports scene, but cut off the league from its state-run broadcaster after Rockets general manager Daryl Morey sent out a tweet in support of Hong Kong protestors last October. The relationship with the Chinese government still has not been repaired, even as players and officials remain silent or dodge questions about human-rights abuses in China.

“The way they cater to China, the way they bow to China, it’s a disgrace frankly,” Trump said. “And they make a lot more money here than they do from China. But we have a system that allows you to disrespect your system and that’s too bad for them. They don’t appreciate what they have here.”

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