Trump stirs backlash feuding with NFL, NBA players

Trump stirs backlash feuding with NFL, NBA players
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President Trump caught flak on Saturday after ratcheting up his barbs on NFL and NBA players, prompting criticism from various professional athletes.

Trump first blasted NFL free agent Colin Kaepernick at a raucous campaign rally Friday night in Alabama, saying players who kneel during the national anthem should be fired and fans should leave games.

"Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, 'Get that son of a b---- off the field right now. He is fired,'" Trump said.

Several NFL players fired back at Trump on Twitter, while commissioner Roger Goodell on Saturday issued a statement condemning Trump's "divisive" rhetoric.

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“The NFL and our players are at our best when we help create a sense of unity in our country and our culture,” Goodell said. “There is no better example than the amazing response from our clubs and players to the terrible natural disasters we've experienced over the last month.”

Meanwhile, Trump stirred conflict early Saturday by announcing via Twitter that NBA star Stephen Curry was no longer welcome at the White House after the Golden State Warriors point guard said he didn't want to pay the president a visit, a tradition for championship teams.

"Going to the White House is considered a great honor for a championship team," Trump tweeted. "Stephen Curry is hesitating, therefore invitation is withdrawn!"

NBA players clapped back at Trump, with LeBron James, the vice president of the NBA Players Association, ripping the announcement.

James, whose Cleveland Cavaliers were defeated by Curry's Warriors earlier this year, called Trump a "bum" in a tweet while saying that visiting the White House was an honor "until you showed up!" 

Curry had told reporters on Friday that he did not want to go to the White House, and said in June he "probably would not visit the White House due to Trump's stances on a variety of issues. 

“By not going, hopefully it will inspire some change for what we tolerate in this country and what we stand for, what is accepted and what we turn a blind eye toward,” he said.

“It’s not just the act of not going. There are things you have do on the back end to push that message into motion,” he continued. “You can talk about all the different personalities that have said things and done things from [Colin] Kaepernick to what happened with Michael Bennett to all sorts of examples of what has gone on in our country that has led to change. We’re all trying to do what we can, using our platforms, our opportunities, to shed light on it. I don’t think not going to the White House will miraculously make everything better. But this is my opportunity to voice that.”

A formal White House invitation has not been issued to the Warriors, however the NBA has been communicating with the White House about a visit, according to ESPN.

Trump's feuding with the NFL and NBA athletes came as his party's latest efforts to make good on their promise to repeal and replace ObamaCare stumbled, with Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCain20 years after 9/11, US foreign policy still struggles for balance What the chaos in Afghanistan can remind us about the importance of protecting democracy at home 'The View' plans series of conservative women as temporary McCain replacements MORE (R-Ariz.) coming out against the plan on Friday.

McCain's opposition potentially dooms the bill sponsored by Sens. Bill CassidyBill CassidyGOP senator on Texas abortion law: Supreme Court will 'swat it away' when 'it comes to them in an appropriate manner' GOP hopes spending traps derail Biden agenda Sunday shows preview: States deal with fallout of Ida; Texas abortion law takes effect MORE (R-La.) and Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by National Industries for the Blind - Tight security for Capitol rally; Biden agenda slows Trump offers sympathy for those charged with Jan. 6 offenses Lindsey Graham: Police need 'to take a firm line' with Sept. 18 rally attendees MORE (R-S.C.) that GOP leaders hoped to vote on in the coming week.

Trump swiped at McCain several times during the rally in Alabama on Friday night, where he was campaigning for Sen. Luther StrangeLuther Johnson StrangePandemic proves importance of pharmaceutical innovation The Hill's Morning Report - Biden assails 'epidemic' of gun violence amid SC, Texas shootings Trump faces test of power with early endorsements MORE (R) ahead of the Senate GOP primary runoff on Tuesday.

The president called McCain's opposition "terrible," while vowing that Republicans would replace his predecessor's signature health-care law "eventually."

Still, Trump caught the most attention for his attack on NFL players kneeling during the national anthem, with critics accusing him of unfairly targeting those attempting to draw attention to the treatment of people of color in the U.S.

Washington Redskins linebacker Zach Brown told the president on Twitter to stay in his place, while Detroit Lions tight end Eric Ebron also suggested that Trump should "stick to politics." 

The head of the NBA Players Association, Chris Paul, also slammed the president's remarks, questioning whether the president would call players "a son of a b----" to their face.