Upon returning to action last week, many NBA teams -- including LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers -- took part in peaceful demonstrations regarding police brutality and racial injustices by kneeling during the playing of the national anthem.
Those protests didn't sit well with President Donald Trump, who called the act "disgraceful" and said he turns off any game in which a player kneels during the national anthem.
“When I see people kneeling during the playing and disrespecting our flag and national anthem, what I do personally is turn off the game," Trump said during an interview on Fox News on Wednesday. "I think it’s disgraceful. We work with [the NBA], we worked with them very hard trying to get open. I was pushing for them to get open. Then I see everybody kneeling during the anthem. That’s not acceptable to me. When I see them kneeling during the game, I just turn off the game. I have no interest in the game."
Asked about the president's comments following the Lakers' loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday, James said that the NBA community wouldn't miss him as a viewer.
"I really don't think the basketball community [is] sad about losing his viewership, him viewing the game," James said.
The 4-time MVP later added: "I hope everyone, no matter the race, no matter the color, no matter the size, will see what leadership that we have at the top in our country and understand that November is right around the corner and it's a big moment for us as Americans. If we continue to talk about, 'We want better. We want change,' we have an opportunity to do that. But the game will go on without his eyes on it. I can sit here and speak for all of us that love the game of basketball: We could care less."
This isn't the first time James has verbally sparred with the president. In 2017, the 3-time NBA champion referred to Trump as a "bum" after the president disinvited Stephen Curry from visiting the White House -- an invitation the Golden State Warriors star had already turned down.
"He's now using sports as the platform to try to divide us," James said in a video posted shortly after the exchange. "We all know how much sports brings us together, how much passion it has, how much we love and care,...and for him to try to use this platform to divide us even more is not something I can stand for, and it's not something I can be quiet about."
In the aftermath of George Floyd's death in police custody in Minneapolis, James formed a group called "More Than A Vote," which is aimed at protecting African American voting rights. In July, the group donated $100,000 to help register Florida voters with felony records by paying outstanding fees.