Former President Donald Trump blasted NBA star LeBron James on Thursday after James tweeted (and subsequently deleted) a message targeting the Columbus police officer involved in the death of 16-year old Ma’Khia Bryant.
Bryant was shot and killed as the officer was attempting to save the life of another teenage girl she was attacking. Police bodycam footage of the incident shows Bryant with a knife in hand, appearing to be seconds away from stabbing the other girl.
LeBron, who has voiced support for groups like Black Lives Matter in the past, deleted the tweet after receiving harsh backlash, especially from law enforcement groups including a rather pointed retort by the National Fraternal Order of Police.
The tweet by the LA Lakers star forward showed a picture of the officer with the phrases, “you’re next” and “#accountability” written in all caps as well as an hourglass emoji to imply his time was running out.
— Guy Benson (@guypbenson) April 21, 2021
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Trump: LeBron James’ Racist Rants Do Not Bring The Country Together
Donald Trump wasted no time in calling out LeBron James for his divisive rhetoric. The former president issued the following statement:
“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!”
Other elected officials joined Trump in condemning the comments of James. Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) said that James was “inciting violence” against Officer Nicholas Reardon.
Rep. Mike Loychik (R-OH) stated that, “People like LeBron James and his friends on the left are driving good people away from careers in law enforcement.” He added, “This is the exact OPPOSITE of how to improve policing.”
I had to look three times to confirm that LeBron James tweet is real.
We’re in dangerous territory, America.
— Steve Krakauer (@SteveKrak) April 21, 2021
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The National Fraternal Order of Police also called out James for his incendiary tweet. They called the NBA star’s comments “disgraceful and extremely reckless.”
.@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
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LeBron’s Questionable Past
LeBron James has a history of not just racial, but other divisive comments.
In July of 2020, just a few months after the death of George Floyd, James appeared on a show he created called “The Shop”.
It is set in different barbershops around the country. In the episode, James is quoted as saying, “I don’t want nothing to do with white people. I don’t believe they want anything to do with me. I don’t want no (white) friends. It’s me and my boys.”
A business partner James’ also featured on the same episode of the show, Maverick Carter, claims that James was talking about going to a predominantly white Catholic high school in Akron Ohio.
Carter also says that as time went on, James’ attitude about his white classmates and teammates changed, and that James’ comments were taken out of context.
LeBron James Criticizes NBA GM For Supporting Hong Kong Protesters
In 2019, James criticized Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey for tweeting out his support for pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong. At the time, Reuters reported that Morey’s support caused Chinese sponsors and partners to cut ties with the league.
USA Today reported at the time that revenue from China for the NBA was estimated at $500 million annually based on known publicly known agreements.
James responded to Morey’s tweets saying, “We all talk about this freedom of speech. Yes, we all do have freedom of speech. But at times there are ramifications for the negative that can happen when you’re not thinking about others.”
He added that Morey “wasn’t educated” on the situation in Hong Kong.
LeBron in 2019 on Daryl Morey's tweets supporting Hong Kong:
"So many people could have been harmed…so just be careful what we tweet, what we say…we do have freedom of speech but there can be a lot of negative that comes with that, too."
He should listen to his own advice. pic.twitter.com/j1TVvHnCkf
— John Cooper (@thejcoop) April 21, 2021
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LeBron James Walks Back Tweet But Still Angry
While LeBron chose to delete the tweet amid relentless backlash, he did not issue an apology.
Instead, the Lakers forward issues a new tweet, “ANGER does [sic] 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!”
Ironically, James also issued a later tweet calling for accountability of all law enforcement.
But as Americans get tired of woke sports and woke athletes, the NBA may be getting some accountability of their own.
For the 2020-21 season, on ABC, the league’s most critical partner, viewership was down 45% since the 2011-12 season.
Broadcasts on TNT were down 40%, and ESPN 20%. The most recent NBA finals series, viewership was down a whopping 51%.
Considering how bad the ratings for the NBA have become, LeBron James might want to consider redirecting his anger.
I’m so damn tired of seeing Black people killed by police. I took the tweet down because its 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
— LeBron James (@KingJames) April 21, 2021
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