Trump released the statement on Thursday in reaction to a deleted tweet from James on the fatal police shooting of Ma’Khia Bryant, a 16-year-old Black girl in Columbus, Ohio. Here is the statement in full, with the capitalized emphasis coming from the release:
“LeBron James should focus on basketball rather than presiding over the destruction of the NBA, which has just recorded the lowest television RATINGS, by far, in the long and distinguished history of the league. His RACIST rants are divisive, nasty, insulting, and demeaning. He may be a great basketball player, but he is doing nothing to bring our country together!
Donald Trump issues statement on LeBron James:
— NBA Central (@TheNBACentral) April 23, 2021
LeBron James Has Addressed Deleted Tweet
James was under fire for a tweet that read “YOU’RE NEXT #ACCOUNTABILITY,” with a photo of officer Nicholas Reardon. James deleted the tweet and explained himself in a series of tweets.
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“I’m so damn tired of seeing Black people killed by police. I took the tweet down because it’s being used to create more hate. This isn’t about one officer. It’s about the entire system and they always use our words to create more racism. I am so desperate for more ACCOUNTABILITY,” James wrote on Twitter, before continuing. “ANGER does any of us any good and that includes myself! Gathering all the facts and educating does though! My anger still is here for what happened that lil girl. My sympathy for her family and may justice prevail!”
ANGER does any of us any good and that includes myself! Gathering all the facts and educating does though! My anger still is here for what happened that lil girl. My sympathy for her family and may justice prevail! 🙏🏾✊🏾🤎👑
— LeBron James (@KingJames) April 21, 2021
Despite the explanation, James has been the target of criticism following the tweet, including from the National Fraternal Order of Police.
“[LeBron James] with his vast resources & influence, should educate himself and, frankly, has a responsibility to do so, on the facts before weighing in,” the police union tweeted. “This is disgraceful & extremely reckless. The officer saved a young girl’s life. No amount of gaslighting will change that fact.”
.@KingJames, with his vast resources & influence, should educate himself and, frankly, has a responsibility to do so, on the facts before weighing in. This is disgraceful & extremely reckless.
The officer saved a young girl's life. No amount of gaslighting will change that fact. pic.twitter.com/GTHn1VAAlf
— National Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) (@GLFOP) April 21, 2021
LeBron James, Donald Trump Have History
James and Trump have sparred in the public arena before. James famously called trump a “bum” when the President called out his rival, Stephen Curry, of the Golden State Warriors.
U bum @StephenCurry30 already said he ain't going! So therefore ain't no invite. Going to White House was a great honor until you showed up!
— LeBron James (@KingJames) September 23, 2017
During his second presidential run, Trump jabbed at James during a rally before his supporters began chanting, “LeBron James sucks.”
“How about basketball?” Trump said. “How about LeBron? I felt badly for LeBron, very badly. Down 71 percent and that’s with the championship. I didn’t watch one shot. I get bored. Back, forth, back, forth. You know why? When they don’t respect our country, when they don’t respect our flag, nobody wants to watch.”
"LeBron James sucks!" chants at the Trump rally pic.twitter.com/XbSZrhn961
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) November 2, 2020
Every move James makes is heard around the world. He remains one of the most powerful and influential athletes on the planet and will only add to his legacy — which includes four NBA championships, four MVPs and 16 All-Star selections.
However, James has been a force for change off the basketball court. Most notably, he helped create “More Than a Vote,” a nonprofit organization devoted to supporting Black voters, and opened the “I Promise School,” a public school in his native Akron, Ohio, for at-risk students.