President Donald Trump spent a significant portion of his Monday afternoon rally in Avoca, Pennsylvania, blaming his critics, from political opponent Joe Biden to celebrities and professional athletes who support the Democratic candidate.
Some remarks denounced the National Basketball Association (NBA), which this year displayed social and political activism, prompting the rally participants to antagonistically chant about LeBron James, one of the world’s greatest sports stars.
After sharing a broad array of media criticisms that were interspersed with allegations that his presidency had made a positive contribution to television viewing, Trump targeted the NBA and focused specifically on James. The NBA star, along with other prominent public figures, opposed Trump in the final months of his re-election bid.
“How about basketball,” Trump asked supporters gathered for Monday’s campaign rally in Avoca. It was one of several rallies held in recent days throughout Pennsylvania, a critical swing state where both Trump and Biden are fighting for victory, promoting the president’s re-election campaign. When they heard “basketball,” the participants in the Avoca rally booed in unison.
“How about LeBron,” he went on to mention the ratings of the NBA finals, which reached a record low last month. Earlier, the president had put the NBA down by suggesting that people had “zero interest” in watching the finals.
“I felt sorry for LeBron,” Trump said. “I felt very bad. A 71 percent drop… I didn’t see a single shot. I got bored. Back, forward, back, forward. You know why? If they don’t respect our country, if they don’t respect our flag, nobody wants to watch. No one.”
“LeBron James sucks!” Chanting at the Trump Rally pic.twitter.com/XbSZrhn961
– Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) November 2, 2020
The president began to voice similar criticism of the National Football League (NFL), but fans interrupted with chants denouncing James. “LeBron James sucks! LeBron James sucks!” they shouted.
Trump seemed satisfied with the response and paused his subsequent remarks about the NFL to acknowledge their chants.
“What a lot!” he said twice.
James’ accomplishments throughout his NBA career have earned him great respect in the sport. When the organization shifted its focus to advocacy after a pandemic break in the summer, many players talked about social justice issues and the presidential race.
James has been particularly open in expressing his views about the President during his term, contributing to the ongoing public tensions between him and Trump. Last week, the athlete urged his supporters in the social media to go “please vote” in an Instagram story in which Trump and Biden were shown on split screens, with a clown cartoon replacing the Republican incumbent’s face.
Washington Newsday turned to the Trump campaign and the NBA for additional comments.