LeBron James said he refuses to engage in a back-and-forth war of words with President Donald Trump. The four-time NBA champ sat down recently with the New York Times to talk about his work on racial justice and getting young people to vote when the discussion inevitably turned to the president.
James, who is an outspoken advocate for racial justice, has focused his attention off the court on politics. Namely, getting members of the black community involved in government. He’s also fully aware of what it means to have his government involved with him. He and President Trump have a long history of trading barbs “back and forth” online and in the press.
LeBron James Sees an Opportunity for Change
The Times asked James what was more important to him: getting people to vote or ousting Trump?
“I don’t go back and forth with anybody. And I d–n sure won’t go back and forth with that guy,” he said of the president. “But we want better, we want change in our community. We always talk about, ‘We want change,’ and now we have the opportunity to do that.”
That sense of being in a pivotal moment in history is also why he hasn’t endorsed a candidate this year. Though James campaigned for Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016, he said he’s focusing on issues in this election.
“It’s just what needed to be done at this point in time,” he told the New York Times. “We’ve been talking about voter suppression, we’ve been talking about police brutality, systemic racism. We’ve had so many things going on, and voter suppression in our communities happens to be at the forefront. So that’s something we wanted to educate our people on.”
James is heading More Than a Vote, a group of politically-minded athletes. The group is working on a campaign with Win Black meant to help voters spot fake information on social media.
The Sordid History of Lebron James, Donald Trump
The Lebron James-led Lakers won the NBA Championship earlier this month by beating the Miami Heat. A special moment for the 35-year-old that he shared online with former President Barack Obama. The two are friends and often tweet encouragement to one another.
That can’t be said of the NBA legend and the current president. The two have a long history of fighting and name calling.
Most recently, Trump called James “a hater” and “nasty” during an interview on “The Rush Limbaugh Show” earlier this month. He attacked James for his work with Black Lives Matter and the NBA’s falling ratings.
In late August, Trump said the NBA protests for racial equality and justice were turning the league into a “political organization,” according to The Hollywood Reporter. “People are a little tired of the NBA, frankly,” he said.
Trump’s comments didn’t affect James.
“I really don’t think the basketball community is sad about losing his viewership,” James said. “The game will go on without his eyes on it.”
James famously called Trump a “bum” in 2017. The president had just rescinded an offer to the then NBA champs Golden State Warriors to visit the White House, CBS Sports reported. The team’s point guard Steph Curry had already said he didn’t want to go.