To the sporting world and largely beyond, he’s King James, but to US President Donald Trump, LeBron James is no intellectual genius.
In a tweet, Mr Trump took aim at two of his regular critics – Mr James and cable TV news personality Don Lemon. His tweet called Mr Lemon the “the dumbest man on television”, and then said Mr Lemon “made LeBron look smart, which isn’t easy to do”.
Mr Trump finished the tweet with “I like Mike!” – an apparent reference to favouring NBA legend Michael Jordan in a comparison with James as perhaps the best NBA player ever.
Mr James – who last month announced his decision to leave the Cleveland Cavaliers for a second time, this time to come to Los Angeles and play for the Lakers – gave an interview with Mr Lemon on Monday, in large part to tout a new elementary school in his hometown of Akron, Ohio.
The school, which is a joint effort of the LeBron James Family Foundation and Akron Public Schools, will benefit at-risk children.
During the sit-down, Mr James spoke of sports as something that unites people, and added that the President was “using sports to kinda divide us”.
Mr Trump has repeatedly and strongly criticised the NFL in particular for not punishing players who kneel during the national anthem in a form of protest.
“Sports has never been something that divides people,” Mr James said during the interview. “It’s always been something that brings someone together.”
A number of Twitter users sided with Mr James, saying while he was putting kids in school, the President was putting them in cages – a reference to the Trump administration’s controversial zero-tolerance border policy – or taking their money – a reference to the failed Trump University. Mr Lemon made the same observation.
Melania Trump, Mr Trump’s wife, appeared to side with Mr James.
“It looks like LeBron James is working to do good things on behalf of our next generation and just as she always has, the First Lady encourages everyone to have an open dialogue about issues facing children today,” a spokeswoman said.
Mr James has previously criticised Mr Trump on several occasions, publicly supporting Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton before the 2016 election and calling Mr Trump a “bum” in September 2017, after the President rescinded an invitation to the Golden State Warriors to visit the White House after winning the NBA title.
“Going to the White House was a great honor until you showed up!” Mr James tweeted at the time.
Mr Trump’s first comments about the NFL and players who protest during the anthem came later that month.
Reuters / Newshub.
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