In what seems like an endless dogfight, top NBA athletes and celebrities bashed President Donald Trump for suggesting that athletes who do not stand while the “The Star-Spangled Banner” is being sung were unpatriotic and ought to be fired by their club owners. In a series of tweets early Saturday morning, the president also took a swipe at NBA MVP winner Stephen Curry of Golden State Warriors for turning down the traditional White House invitation for the NBA champions to visit the House on the Hill. The tweets followed his controversial statement he made at night on Friday during a political rally in Alabama. During the rally, President Trump even suggested that if fans would vacate the stadiums during such incidents of disrespect to the flag, the players would reform.
The Celebrity Backlash
His comments drew the ire of some celebrities, which was exacerbated by dragging Stephen Curry’s back into the controversy. Roger Goodell who serves as the commissioner of NFL noted that kneeling comments made by the president were disrespectful to the players and divisive. He further noted that the NFL players were embodiment of unity for the country. However, the president responded to such criticisms by further tweeting that NFL players and other sportsmen in various leagues were privileged to play and earn millions in the country. As such, they had not right to disrespect the U.S. flag and the anthem. In addition to suggesting that they be fired, President Trump also tweeted that he had cancelled Curry’s invitation to the White House as he had hesitated to accept it.
Such tweets prompted a backlash from NBA player LeBron James who reminded the president that Curry had already turned down the invitation and there he could not cancel it. The deepening controversy saw LeBron call the president a bum. He further tweeted that there was no honor in visiting the White House since President Trump became its new occupant. LeBron was taking a swipe at the president following his earlier tweet on Curry’s hesitation to accept the president’s invite.
Backlash Beyond Athletes
Following LeBron’s criticisms of the President, singer John Legend also added his voice to the growing list of celebrities condemning the president’s comments. In an apparent reference to the tweet the president sent canceling Stephen Curry’s invitation, Legend tweeted that there was no honor in visiting the White House President Trump is still the tenant. He later tweeted that President Trump was a divisive figure who hopes to thrive on turning Americans against each other. Such sentiments had also been tweeted by Jemele Hill, an anchor at ESPN.