LeBron James is one of the greatest pro basketball players in history. He’s also using his tremendous success and wealth to help at-risk children in his hometown. And yet, in Donald Trump’s eyes, he’s “dumb.”
Trump resorted to childish name-calling in a Friday evening tweet in which he slammed the intelligence of both James and CNN anchor Don Lemon. The attack was responding to an interview in which James had some mildly critical things to say about the thin-skinned U.S. president.
“What I’ve noticed over the past few months [is] he’s kinda used sports to kinda divide us, and that’s something that I can’t relate to,” James said during the interview. “I can’t sit back and say nothing.”
Asked later what he’d say if he ever found himself face-to-face with Trump, he replied: “I would never sit across from him.”
Most of the interview focused on other matters, particularly James’s efforts in Ohio to create an elementary school with an eye toward helping kids get their lives on track. You know, actual humanitarian work.
The jitters before the first day of school are real right now!!! Tomorrow is going to be one of the greatest moments (if not the greatest) of my life when we open the #IPROMISE School. This skinny kid from Akron who missed 83 days of school in the 4th grade had big dreams… https://t.co/PwmRaHRfng
— LeBron James (@KingJames) July 29, 2018
That’s not what the U.S. president saw, of course. He just picked up on the fact that someone — a successful black man, no less — dared to criticize his demonstrably true practice of using professional sports to divide Americans.
And so, a miffed Trump fired back.
Lebron James was just interviewed by the dumbest man on television, Don Lemon. He made Lebron look smart, which isn’t easy to do. I like Mike!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 4, 2018
(The “I like Mike!” comment is meant as a knock on James, who is often mentioned in the same breath as Michael Jordan as the NBA’s greatest of all time. That one probably didn’t land as intended. James has historically shown great reverence toward Jordan.)
There’s nothing substantive about Trump’s tweet. Not one word or follow-up that takes issue with anything either man has actually said. It’s just a pointless, aimless ad hominem attack and, as many pointed out on social media, a thinly veiled racist remark.
In Trump’s World:
LeBron James: dumb
Don Lemon: dumb
Maxine Waters: low IQ
black countries: shitholes
black athletes: SOBs
Black tenants: unwelcome
Black workers: lazy
Central Park 5: guilty
Nazis: very fine people
— Keith Boykin (@keithboykin) August 4, 2018
On Trump and that horrific, tasteless, elementary ass corny AF tweet about Don Lemon and Lebron James:
Trump has 3 modes of attack. Racism, sexism and then straight up lying. What he said about these two men is steeped in racist rhetoric about the intelligence of black people.
— Christina Coleman (@ChrissyCole) August 4, 2018
Lebron is one of the all time greatest NBA players, who came from nothing and is giving everything to provide free education for low income kids. He spoke eloquently about how it hurts him to see Trump use sports to divide us. And, then the president calls him “dumb.” Painful.
— Amanda Carpenter (@amandacarpenter) August 4, 2018
Whether it’s LeBron James or Oprah Winfrey, Trump can’t seem to stomach benevolent black billionaires… Perhaps it’s because they didn’t inherit their money, actually worked hard to earn their fortunes and went on to open schools that weren’t pyramid schemes… #SaturdayMorning
— Cyrus McQueen (@CyrusMMcQueen) August 4, 2018
Re: that Trump tweet. That angers me beyond belief. I don’t want my future kids growing up in a world where two Black men, accomplished in their field, are called dumb because they disagree with your views. LeBron should be commended this week for his actions, not insulted.
— Matt Barnes (@Matt_NBC4) August 4, 2018
And of course, no cycle of Trump shade is complete without Pete Souza, the former White House photographer for President Barack Obama, weighing in with a deep cut from his archives.
There was also this exceedingly spicy take from CNN PR.