LeBron James says the basketball community "couldn't care less" if president Donald Trump refuses to watch the NBA because players take a knee during the national anthem.
Trump on Wednesday told Fox News he thinks it is "disgraceful" that players do not stand for the Star-Spangled Banner before matches.
Players have repeatedly stated they take a knee to protest against police brutality and social injustice and have no intention of causing insult to the flag, military or nation.
Yet Trump said: "I think it's disgraceful. We work with [the NBA]. We work very hard trying to get them open. I was pushing them to get open. And then I see everyone kneeling during the anthem. It's not acceptable to me.
"When I see them kneeling, I just turn off the game. I have no interest in the game. When I see people kneeling during the playing and disrespecting our flag and disrespecting our national anthem, what I do, personally, is turn off the game."
Trump also said he has done more for the black community than any other president, with the possible exception of Abraham Lincoln.
That comment brought a smile from James, who replied when asked about that particular statement: "Trying to make me laugh right now? I appreciate it."
King Brow pic.twitter.com/mgCVX1mT1T— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) August 6, 2020
Los Angeles Lakers star James said it will be no loss to the basketball world if Trump is not watching and hopes Americans do their talking in the November elections.
"I really don't think the basketball community are sad about losing his viewership," he added after the Lakers were beaten 105-86 by the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday.
"That's all I really want to say because I already know where this could go and where it could lead to for me. I'm not going to get into it, but I think our game is in a beautiful position.
"We have fans all over the world and our fans not only love the way we play the game. We try to give it back to them with our commitment to the game, but also respect what else we bring to the game with knowledge of what's right and what's wrong.
"I hope everyone – no matter their race, colour, size – would see what leadership we have at the top of our country and understand that November is right around the corner and it's a big moment for us as Americans.
"We talk about 'we want better, we want change', and we will have an opportunity to do that.
"But the game will go on with his eyes on [or] without his eyes on it. I can speak for everyone who loves the game of basketball: we couldn't care less."