To the sporting world and largely beyond, he’s King James, but to President Trump, LeBron James is no intellectual genius.
In a tweet, Trump took aim at two of his regular critics, James and cable TV news personality Don Lemon. His tweet called Lemon the “the dumbest man on television,” and then said Lemon “made LeBron look smart, which isn’t easy to do.”
Trump finished the tweet with “I like Mike!” an apparent reference to favoring NBA legend Michael Jordan in a comparison with James as perhaps the best NBA player ever.
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 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, James spoke of sports as something that unites people, and added that the president was “using sports to kinda divide us.”
Trump has repeatedly and strongly criticized 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,” James said during the interview. “It’s always been something that brings someone together.”
James has previously criticized Trump on several occasions, publicly supporting Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton before the 2016 election and calling Trump a “bum” in September 2017, after the president rescinded an invitation to the Golden State Warriors to visit the White House after winning the NBA title.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!” James tweeted at the time.
Trump’s first comments about the NFL and players who protest during the anthem came later that month.
NBA legend Michael Jordan and U.S. athletes rallied to LeBron James’ defense on Saturday after U.S. President Donald Trump questioned the star player’s intelligence in a tweet.
“I support LJ. He’s doing an amazing job for his community,” Jordan, now owner of the National Basketball Association’s Charlotte Hornets, told NBC News through a spokesperson.
The comment by Jordan and others came after Trump had tweeted:
“Lebron James was just interviewed by the dumbest man on television, Don Lemon. He made Lebron look smart, which isn’t easy to do. I like Mike!”
Trump was referring to an interview CNN’s Lemon did in the days after James, who now plays for the Los Angeles Lakers, and his foundation had opened a public school for some of the most disadvantaged children in his hometown of Akron, Ohio.
The president’s “I like Mike!” comment apparently was Trump stating his opinion on the debate of whether six-time NBA champion Jordan or James, the four-time league most valuable player and three times champion, is the NBA’s best all-time player.
Even the president’s wife was supportive of James’ work with children.
“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,” Melania Trump said in a statement issued by her spokeswoman.
NBA player Karl-Anthony Towns added in a tweet: “So let me get this straight: Flint, MI has dirty water still, but you worried about an interview about a man doing good for education and generations of kids in his hometown?”
Banner / Thumbnail : Reuters