President Trump Describes NBA Players, Coaches Who Criticize Him: ‘Very Nasty and Frankly, Very Dumb’

President Donald Trump has again used his platform to speak out against a longtime foe: athletes who kneel during the national anthem and criticize his presidency.

During the NBA’s opening games in late July, every player, coach and referee knelt during “The Star-Spangled Banner” in a unified message of support for racial justice and the ongoing protests against police brutality in Black communities. Players have also been given the go-ahead from the league to wear jerseys with messages such as “Black Lives Matter” and “I Can’t Breathe.”

On Tuesday, the president said in a Fox Sports radio interview that he thinks the kneeling “has been horrible for basketball,” pointing to the league’s diminished ratings.

“There was a nastiness about the NBA, the way it was done too… I think it’s in big trouble. Bigger trouble than they understand.”

The comments echoed a tweet last week comparing the NBA’s ratings to those of Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, who had 3.65 million viewers to the NBA’s 2.6 million throughout its two Thursday night games. While the tweet called it a “ratings massacre,” Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban pointed out that the comparison ignored a key difference in demographics.

“In the advertiser coveted 18-49 demographic, our prime time outperformed Tucker in prime time by 215%. He did slaughter us in the 70+ plus demographic, so have to give credit there,” Cuban tweeted.

According to a CBS News poll conducted in late July, the majority of Americans now view kneeling during the national anthem as an acceptable form of protest against racial discrimination, though that share drops to 23% among Republicans.

President Trump continued to denounce NBA players and coaches who have spoken out about his administration, saying “some are very nasty — very, very nasty and frankly, very dumb.”

“We have a system that allows you to disrespect your system and that’s too bad for them. Too bad for them. They don’t appreciate what they have here,” he said, comparing the U.S. with China, where a recent ESPN exposé uncovered alleged human rights abuses at three NBA training academies.

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