President Donald Trump came under harsh criticism from the NFL and some of the NBA’s top players after he blasted prominent athletes for kneeling during the national anthem and refusing to come to the White House, putting himself in the center of a controversy with significant racial and cultural undertones.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell slammed Trump in a statement Saturday morning, calling the President “divisive” for remarks he made at a rally in Alabama Friday night, while one of the most famous athletes in the world, LeBron James, called Trump a “bum” for his Saturday morning tweet uninviting Golden State Warriors’ Stephen Curry from visiting the White House.
The Golden State Warriors issued a statement later Saturday accepting Trump’s dis-invitation.
“While we intended to meet as a team at the first opportunity we had this morning to collaboratively discuss a potential visit to the White House, we accept that President Trump has made it clear that we are not invited,” the team said.
Trump responded to the criticisms Saturday in a series of tweets, saying that playing for a sports league is a “privilege” and that players should not be able to disrespect the American flag or the US without risking being “fired.”
“If a player wants the privilege of making millions of dollars in the NFL, or other leagues, he or she should not be allowed to disrespect ….” Trump tweeted. “Our Great American Flag (or Country) and should stand for the National Anthem. If not, YOU’RE FIRED. Find something else to do!”
Later, he added of Goodell’s criticism: “Roger Goodell of NFL just put out a statement trying to justify the total disrespect certain players show to our country. Tell them to stand!”
The President’s Twitter posts continued Sunday morning, saying if fans stayed away from the games because of the players’ protests, “you will see change take place fast. Fire or suspend!”
Trump then focused on recent attendance at some NFL games and said ratings were “way down.”
“Boring games yes, but many stay away because they love our country. League should back U.S.,” he tweeted.