Trump attacks LeBron James on Twitter; first lady pushes back

Posted at 8:42 AM, Aug 04, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-04 21:51:10-04

After President Donald Trump slammed basketball star LeBron James on Twitter, the first lady and sports legends pushed back.

Trump criticized James over his comments in a CNN interview with Don Lemon this week.

"Lebron James was just interviewed by the dumbest man on television, Don Lemon. He made Lebron look smart, which isn't easy to do," Trump tweeted.

James appeared on Lemon's show Monday, and the interview was re-aired Friday night, shortly before Trump tweeted.

"I like Mike!" the President ended his tweet in what appeared to be a reference to the ongoing debate on who'sthe greatest NBA player of all time, James or Michael Jordan.

James' publicist declined to respond to Trump's tweet, but early Saturday afternoon, James retweeted a post from his "I Promise" school and said: "Let's get it kids!! Love you guys."

James addressed various topics during his interview with Lemon, including politics, saying Trump has used athletics and athletes to split up the country.

"I can't sit back and say nothing," James told Lemon.

James said he "would never sit across" from Trump, though he would talk to former President Barack Obama.

James also madereferences to football player Colin Kaepernick, whose kneeling protests launched an NFL movement and drew harsh criticism from Trump, and to NBA star Stephen Curry, who said he would not visit the White House after the Golden State Warriors won the championship, prompting the President to disinvite him.

Melania Trump and Jordan pushed back the next day.

The first lady's spokeswoman quickly distanced the first lady from the criticism of James, saying in a statement Saturday afternoon that it appeared James was "working to do good things on behalf of our next generation" and that the first lady would be open to visiting his new school for at-risk children in his hometown of Akron, Ohio.

The statement didn't criticize the president.

Jordan also jumped to James' defense.

"I support LeBron James. He's doing an amazing job for his community," Jordan said in a statement to The Associated Press through his representative via text.

Pro Football Hall of Famer Shannon Sharpe tweeted: "It should be beneath the dignity of a sitting POTUS to take racist shots at D. Lemon and Lebron James."

NBA player Karl-Anthony Towns wrote: "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?"

The president's tweet came hours before Trump traveled to Columbus, Ohio, for a rally north of town in support of the Republican in a special U.S. House election on Tuesday.

"I don't have to tell (asterisk)anyone(asterisk) what LeBron James means to Ohio," tweeted Democrat Danny O'Connor, who is running against state Sen. Troy Balderson.

Ohio Gov. Josh Kasich, a Republican who at times criticizes Trump, tweeted: "Rather than criticizing @KingJames, we should be celebrating him for his charity work and efforts to help kids."