SOMERSET, N.J. (AP) — President Donald Trump denounced protests by NFL players and rescinded a White House invitation for NBA champion Stephen Curry in a two-day rant that targeted top professional athletes and brought swift condemnation Saturday from league executives and star players alike.

Wading into thorny issues of race and politics, Trump’s comments in a Friday night speech and a series of Saturday tweets drew sharp responses from some of the nation’s top athletes, with LeBron James calling the president a “bum.” Hours later, Major League Baseball saw its first player take a knee during the national anthem.

Trump started by announcing that Curry, the popular two-time MVP for the Golden State Warriors, would not be welcome at the White House for the commemorative visit traditionally made by championship teams: “Going to the White House is considered a great honor for a championship team. Stephen Curry is hesitating, therefore invitation is withdrawn!”

Later, Trump reiterated what he said at a rally in Alabama the previous night — that NFL players who kneel for the national anthem should be fired, and called on NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to tell them to stand. Goodell and several team owners criticized the comments.

The Warriors said it was clear they were not welcome at the White House.

Curry had said he did not want to go anyway, but the Warriors had not made a collective decision before Saturday — and had planned to discuss it in the morning before the president’s tweet, to which coach Steve Kerr said : “Not surprised. He was going to break up with us before we could break up with him.”

Others had far stronger reactions.

“U bum @StephenCurry30 already said he ain’t going!” James tweeted in a clear message to the president — a post that Twitter officials said was quickly shared many more times than any other he’s sent. “So therefore ain’t no invite. Going to White House was a great honor until you showed up!”

Curry appreciated James’ strong stance.

“That’s a pretty strong statement,” Curry said. “I think it’s bold, it’s courageous for any guy to speak up, let alone a guy that has as much to lose as LeBron does and other notable figures in the league. We all have to kind of stand as one the best we can.”

Curry added that he doesn’t believe Trump “respects the majority of Americans in this country.”

James also released a video Saturday, saying Trump has tried to divide the country. “He’s now using sports as the platform to try to divide us,” James said. “We all know how much sports brings us together. … It’s not something I can be quiet about.”

 

Warriors general manager Bob Myers said he was surprised by the invitation being pulled, and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said he was disappointed that the Warriors won’t be at the White House.

“The White House visit should be something that is celebrated,” Myers said. “So we want to go to Washington, D.C., and do something to commemorate kind of who we are as an organization, what we feel, what we represent and at the same time spend our energy on that. Instead of looking backward, we want to look forward.”

Added Kerr after his team’s first practice of the season, “These are not normal times.”

Bruce Maxwell, an African-American player for the Oakland Athletics, became the first major league baseball player to kneel during the national anthem. Teammate Mark Canha, who is white, put his right hand on one of Maxwell’s shoulders during Saturday night’s anthem. The Athletics released a statement saying they “respect and support all of our players’ constitutional rights and freedom of expression.”

In New York City’s Central Park, musician Stevie Wonder declared, “Tonight, I take a knee for America. Both knees!” as he knelt on stage at the Global Citizen Festival.

About 150 players around the NFL sat, knelt or raised their fists in defiance during the league’s early games.

 

 

In another tweet, Trump said the NHL champion Pittsburgh Penguins will be going to the White House f or a ceremony. However, Mike Tomlin’s Pittsburgh Steelers did not take the field for the national anthem, save one player, who served three tours in Afghanistan.

 

Meghan Linsey finished singing the national anthem before the Seattle Seahawks game at the Tennessee Titans, and then the runner-up in “The Voice” took a knee as she finished. So did the guitarist accompanying her.

At least 130 players around the NFL sat or knelt during the anthems in the early games. The Seahawks and Titans didn’t come on the field until after Linsey finished singing. A handful of players stood outside the tunnel.

Earlier in Detroit, singer Rico Lavelle dropped to his right knee, bowed his head and raised his right fist wrapped around the microphone while finishing up his rendition of the national anthem before the Lions-Falcons game.

President Donald Trump has continued to express his displeasure on Twitter about how NFL players are choosing to kneel or sit for the national anthem before games.

In one tweet, Trump said that “Standing with locked arms is good, kneeling is not acceptable. Bad Ratings!” In another tweet, he says people “MUST honor and respect” the American flag.

More than 130 players around the NFL sat, knelt or raised their fists in defiance during the league’s early games.

As a candidate and as president, Trump’s approach has at times seemed to inflame racial tensions in a deeply divided country while emboldening groups long in the shadows. Little more than a month ago, Trump came under fire for his response to a white supremacists’ protest in Charlottesville, Virginia. Trump also pardoned Joe Arpaio, the former sheriff of Arizona’s Maricopa County, who had been found guilty of defying a judge’s order to stop racially profiling Latinos.

Trump’s latest entry into the intersection of sports and politics started in Alabama on Friday night, when he said NFL players who refused to stand for “The Star-Spangled Banner” are exhibiting a “total disrespect of our heritage.”

Several NFL players, starting last season with then-San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick, have either knelt, sat or raised fists during the anthem to protest police treatment of blacks and social injustice. Last week at NFL games, four players sat or knelt during the anthem, and two raised fists while others stood by the protesters in support.

“That’s a total disrespect of everything that we stand for,” Trump said, encouraging owners to act. He added, “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, you’d say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He’s fired.”

On Saturday, Trump echoed his stance.

“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 our Great American Flag (or Country) and should stand for the National Anthem,” Trump tweeted. “If not, YOU’RE FIRED. Find something else to do!”

“You have a chance to do something really great,” music mogul Sean “Diddy” Combs told players in a tweet.

Tampa Bay receiver Desean Jackson, whose team plays at Minnesota, tweeted: “I definitely will be making a statement no disrespect to our military of service But we have to stick together as people !! Unity.”

Trump has enjoyed strong support from NFL owners, with at least seven of them donating $1 million each to Trump’s inaugural committee. They include New England Patriots owner Bob Kraft, whom Trump considers a friend.

Goodell strongly backed the players and criticized Trump for “an unfortunate lack of respect for the NFL” while several team owners issued similar statements. New York Giants owners John Mara and Steve Tisch said the comments were inappropriate and offensive. Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, who has supported the players who have knelt, said the country “needs unifying leadership right now, not more divisiveness,” and San Francisco 49ers CEO Jed York ripped Trump’s comments as “callous.”

Hours after Goodell’s comments, Trump said the commissioner had “put out a statement trying to justify the total disrespect certain players show to our country. Tell them to stand!”

Terry and Kim Pegula, the owners of the Buffalo Bills, said a number of players attended a voluntary meeting with team executives, including general manager Brandon Beane, coach Sean McDermott and members of his staff.

“President Trump’s remarks were divisive and disrespectful to the entire NFL community but we tried to use them as an opportunity to further unify our team and our organization,” the Pegulas said. “Our players have the freedom to express themselves in respectful and thoughtful manner and we all agreed that our sole message is to provide and to promote an environment that is focused on love and equality.”

Plenty of other current and former stars from across sports weighed in Saturday, as did the National Basketball Players Association, which defended its members’ “free speech rights” against those seeking to “stifle” them.

Trump also bemoaned what he called a decline in violence in football, noting that it’s “not the same game” because players are now either penalized or thrown out of games for aggressive tackles.

“No man or woman should ever have to choose a job that forces them to surrender their rights,” said DeMaurice Smith, the NFL Players Association executive director. “No worker nor any athlete, professional or not, should be forced to become less than human when it comes to protecting their basic health and safety.”

Trump has met with some championship teams already in his first year in office.

Clemson visited the White House this year after winning the College Football Playoff, some members of the New England Patriots went after the Super Bowl victory and the Chicago Cubs went to the Oval Office in June to commemorate their World Series title. The Cubs also had the larger and more traditional visit with President Barack Obama in January, four days before the Trump inauguration.

North Carolina, the reigning NCAA men’s basketball champion, said Saturday it will not visit the White House this season. The Tar Heels cited scheduling conflicts.

Warriors forward Draymond Green said the good news was that Golden State won’t have to talk about going to the White House again — unless they win another title during the Trump presidency.

“Michelle Obama said it best,” Green said. “She said it best. They go low. We go high. He beat us to the punch. Happy the game is over.”

___

Reynolds reported from Miami. AP Sports Writers Janie McCauley and John Wawrow and AP writer Corey Williams in Detroit contributed to this story.

 

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35 thoughts on “Trump Comments On Pro Athletes Sparks Huge Backlash

  1. Zerkeise on said:

    You should never dismiss and invitation to speak your mind directly to the person that irritates you. Who knows what effect you may have on them. Remember, he does listen to somebody/s. Why cant you be one of them. The think to do is pray on it. Ask God for the right words. Though it may take more than a few times, don’t give up on the chance to change someone’s heart.

  2. A lot of athletes work in their communities. They may not always advertise it but they do give back. 45 started this mess by trying to deflect from his upcoming defeat of the healthcare law.

    • specialt757 on said:

      You’re right D, and they make a huge difference in their communities, but that doesn’t get the publicity because the media is more concerned with sensationalism. The “negative” stories ALWAYS get the biggest reactions.

    • Passing Through! on said:

      Good point, and then you have all the racist and dumb ass black people who criticize the athletes for taking knee to stand for something. The people who don’t do s**t in the community are the ones criticizing athletes and bitching about what they should be doing or how they should be helping the community and their protest don’t mean nothing, while they’re the ones who ain’t doing a damn thing themselves. Like I previously stated, every time there’s a black movement we’ll shoot our own selves in the damn foot criticizing each other and pointing out what’s wrong or what we need to do better. I don’t care if they’re millionaire ball players or not at the end of the day when that helmet come off they’re still black men and white AmeriKKKa don’t value their lives no more than Trayvon, Mike Brown, Emmett Till and any other black man they’ve slaughtered under that red, white & blue cloth. And true enough taking a knee might not save the black community but at least it’s showing some unity and starting a conversation.

      • specialt757 on said:

        You’re right, ask Michael Bennet. Damn it’s almost unreal that the facts are there and some of us still continue to think America has overcome, we’ve never been equal. I don’t know what books they’re reading. Free, certainly, but seems like our freedom comes at a high price, our lives.

      • I agree. And what I hate is when people go get that ONE or TWO black people (Stacy Dash, Larry Elder, etc) and try to say the cause does not matter just because a few blacks do not agree with it.

  3. America’s enemies must be laughing their asses off, Russia helped get him elected and now he’s tearing the country apart!! MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN …BS !

  4. specialt757 on said:

    The taking knee has NOTHING to do with politics. When Kap silently protested the injustice of unarmed black people being killed by police officers, he sat first, no one noticed, then he took a knee, everyone noticed. When asked why, he told them, and it had nothing to do with his views on politics. His JOB was to quarterback for the 49ers and he did that. EVERYONE else including 45, made this political, but Kap did not. STAY WOKE.

  5. FallMornings on said:

    The issue I have with the knee is they are on the job. Many if not most come to games to be entertained. Your political views should be expressed at another time. I would like to know if any on this blog would take a knee at work. Would you boss be on board with your decision? Just asking.

    • I never bring anything regarding my personal views on politics or religion to work. When I’m at work, my time is being paid for by the people who employ me to do a job. If I want to make a difference in my community, that’s where I conduct community business. Not in my company’s office, where it won’t make a shit stain of difference. Just as a bunch of millionaire sports figures kneeing the ground means absolutely nothing, except to the people making money off of keeping this monkey see, monkey do bullshit percolating. If they really want to make a difference, go out into these neighborhoods and kneel on street corners. Oh. But wait! That wouldn’t work. No cameras.

    • Passing Through! on said:

      If you’re at a game to be entertained why are you bothered by someone peacefully, silently protesting? Why are you bothered by someone kneeling in silence to make a statement that ain’t got S**t to do with you. That’s no disrespect to the flag by taking a knee. You have a president on a world stage expressing his hate for Hispanic, Muslims, women and blacks while backing the KKK and Nazi who murdered a protester in Charlottesville, but a black athlete can’t take a knee in peace? GTFOH! And this isn’t about political views, this about human F**king rights & injustice, I don’t care if you’re on the job or not.

      • specialt757 on said:

        Who are you lol? Say that again, I don’t think they heard you. Obviously people just don’t get it and really, its just that simple. “Why are you bothered by someone kneeling in silence to make a statement that ain’t got S**t to do with you.”

  6. What angers me when people say celebs who are either singers, spots stars, actors, tv host, etc do not have a right to speak as if their profession makes them off limits to the trials of LIFE. NOT. These sports stars have college degrees which means they are MORE than just pods on a field or basketball court. They have a RIGHT to speak up for what they feel is right. To me, this is a form of treated these MEN like PROPERTY on a planation. They can not speak and they work for themselves and if you like their product you support them but Trump who WORKS FOR THE PUBLIC can say crazy things and call MEN out of their name? Something is wrong with this picture.

  7. Chastity on said:

    He is the biggest fool that has been in office since I have been alive. They need to stop playing and get his stupid ass out of th WH. He is nothing but the devil and toxic to not only this country but to the entire world. I have never loathed someone as much as I do him.

  8. FOR THE FIRST TIME THIS IDIOT HAS DONE GOOD, HE BOUGHT ATTENTION TO THE TREATMENT OF AFRICAN AMERICANS. HE MADE EVEYONE DO A DOUBLE AND A TRIPLE TAKE, LIKE WHAT, I KNOW HE DIDN’T. HE HAS CROSSED THE LINE NUMEROUS TIMES BUT THIS TIME THE TRIP IS REALLY WORKING AGAINST HIM BY RAISING THE AWARNENESS TO THE ISSUE. NOW NFL BOSSES, SOMEBODY SIGN KAP AND REALLY MAKE THIS FOOL LOOK LIKE A COMPLETE IDIOT, WHICH WE ALL KNOW HE IS.

  9. specialt757 on said:

    But wait tho, no coon ray lewis didn’t take TWO knees this weekend after the fool-in-chief’s deflection tweets. This mofo doesn’t know whether he’s coming or going, he is so damn confused. He doesn’t know whether to wipe his head or scratch his butt, somebody give this clown a clue.

    • specialt757 on said:

      Right, it’s not surprising. Nor is it surprising that he is as quiet as a church mouse about the confederate flag flying high at NASCAR races. He reveals his true colors with every passing day, I don’t know why he still has supporters. Oh wait I do know, they are POOR racist devils.

  10. You know what I just would not go I would not tell anyone I just would not do it. And trump need to just focus on his job and stop worry about who come to the White House you did not see President Obama commit when Tom Brady refuse to come when he was in office. Leave it alone and move on.

  11. RUSSIAN INTERFERENCE IN OUR ELECTION in support of our current President is far more vital to the Nation than the Freedom of Speech subject, which is guaranteed to those who are kneeling during the National Anthem; guaranteed under the 1st Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. By virtue of the evidence in support of Russian interference in our Election, the current President is
    creating issues to DIVERT from the Overwhelming Evidence in support of Russia supporting him to become the President of the U.S. makes him an illegitimate President and/or Unfit to be the President.

  12. DONALD JOHN TRUMP IS A WALKING DEMON. I WILL NEVER ACKNOWLEDGE THAT IMP AS THE PRESIDENT OF THIS COUNTRY. I SERVED THIS COUNTRY FOR 8 YEAR. I LOVE THIS COUNTRY….I VERY MUCH DISLIKE THAT, YOU’RE IN IT!!! YOU’RE FIRED!!!

  13. The owners made all of their comments denouncing 45’s comments as totally inappropriate and offensive, now let’s see if they stop blackballing C.K. and let him get signed to a team……….

  14. This bitch ass fake prez need to stfu!!! He’s a divider and he’s only making shit worse. If anyone’s is a SOB, it’s his bitch ass.

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