Four days after CNN’s Don Lemon interviewed LeBron James, President Donald Trump took to social media to criticize them both.
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James was interviewed by Lemon Monday, after James’ foundation and the Akron (Ohio) Public Schools launched a new elementary school for at-risk children.
The school has an on-site food bank and offers free bicycles for all students. Students will attend school from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and students will receive free college tuition at the University of Akron if they graduate high school.
During the interview with Lemon, James talked about how sports can bring people together and mentioned he felt that Trump was using sports “to kinda divide us.”
At the end of the interview, Lemon challenged Trump, a move that perhaps invoked the Trump tweet.
“Mr President,” he said. “Tweet about that. (A) professional athlete doing a good thing for his community. That would be nice to talk about.”
Last year, James was critical of Trump, calling him a “bum” when the President rescinded his invitation for the 2017 NBA champion Golden State Warriors to visit the White House, after the Warriors said they would not accept an invitation.
So there’s the backstory.
On Friday, Trump tweeted about James and Lemon, who has also been critical of him in the past. Trump also appears to say, in the same tweet, that he prefers Charlotte Hornets owner Michael Jordan over James in terms of great basketball players.
Not long after the tweet went viral, NBA players came to James’ defense. James, so far, has not responded.
Through a spokesperson, Jordan released a statement Saturday.
“I support LJ,” Jordan said in a statement released Saturday by his publicist. “He’s doing an amazing job for his community.”
Utah Jazz star Donovan Mitchell called Trump “insecure” and said he was setting a bad example for the nation’s youth. Minnesota center Karl Anthony Towns questioned why Trump was using his time to tweet about this instead of addressing the water issues in Flint, MI.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a Republican like Trump, and former newscaster Dan Rather also criticized the President’s tweet about James.
So here is the interview, followed by Trump’s tweet and the responses to it.
UPDATE: A spokeswoman for Melania Trump says it appears that LeBron James is “working to do good things” and that the first lady would be willing to visit the new school he opened in Ohio.
The statement from Stephanie Grisham says, “It looks like LeBron James is working to do good things on behalf of our next generation.”
The statement notes that Mrs. Trump has been promoting her Be Best campaign and talking to children about the “importance of responsible online behavior.” Grisham adds that the first lady “would be open” to visiting James’ school.
The Associated Press contributed