Trump: LeBron James' Tweets on Teen's Death Are 'Racist Rants' (Getty Images)
By Sandy Fitzgerald | Friday, 23 April 2021 07:35 AM
Former President Donald Trump is slamming the NBA's LeBron James for his tweets about the police officer who shot and killed 16-year-old Columbus, Ohio resident Ma'Khia Bryant, calling the Los Angeles Lakers superstar's comments "racist rants" that are "divisive, nasty, insulting, and demeaning."
“LeBron James should focus on basketball rather than presiding over the destruction of the NBA, which has just recorded the lowest television RATINGS, by far, in the long and distinguished history of the League,” Trump said in a statement released by his office Thursday night.
“His RACIST rants are divisive, nasty, insulting, and demeaning. He may be a great basketball player, but he is doing nothing to bring our Country together!” the former president added.
James on Wednesday posted a photograph of Nicholas Reardon, identified as the police officer who shot the teenager, and added the words "YOU'RE NEXT #ACCOUNTABILITY."
He pulled the tweet down after an outcry from people who said he was inciting violence against Reardon, but did not walk back his statements over the shooting and other incidents of violence.
"I’m so damn tired of seeing Black people killed by police," James, who is from Ohio, wrote. "I took the tweet down because its being used to create more hate — This isn’t about one officer. It’s about the entire system and they always use our words to create more racism. I am so desperate for more ACCOUNTABILITY."
He also wrote that "ANGER does any of us any good and that includes myself! Gathering all the facts and educating does though! My anger still is here for what happened that lil girl. My sympathy for her family and may justice prevail!"
Twitter repeatedly censored Trump's posts over accusations of misinformation and later permanently suspended his account in the wake of the Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol
"After close review of recent Tweets from the @realDonaldTrump account and the context around them — specifically how they are being received and interpreted on and off Twitter — we have permanently suspended the account due to the risk of further incitement of violence," Twitter said in booting Trump.
But the social media giant has taken no action on James' tweets, the Daily Caller reports.
Bryant was killed Tuesday night just minutes before a jury in Minneapolis announced a guilty verdict was reached for all three charges against ex-police officer Derek Chauvin, who was found guilty of second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter in the death of George Floyd.
Body camera footage released in Columbus Tuesday shortly after the shooting shows an officer, believed to be Reardon, was shown approaching an altercation involving Bryant. Soon after he asked what was happening, the officer fired four shots at the girl after she lunged after another girl, while holding a knife. The officer can be heard saying "she had a knife. She just went at her."
Meanwhile, part of Trump's tweet against James attacked the NBA's television ratings, which dipped in the 2019-2020 season for several reasons, including the coronavirus pandemic and because of teams boycotting games following the deaths of Floyd and Breonna Taylor, who was shot and killed by police in her apartment.
Sportsnaut reported this week that now that the 2020-21 campaign is going on, "things have changed dramatically from an NBA TV ratings perspective."
Part of the current boost is from viewers tuning in to watch two-time NBA MVP Stephen Curry's return from suffering a tailbone injury, the site reports. Sports Media Watch reports that last Saturday night's game between the Warriors and the Boston Celtics drew 2.49 million viewers on ABC, marking the network's most-watched game since Feb. 13.
The NBA also is expected to see a major revenue increase with its upcoming new contract, with CNBC reporting that the NBA could get a contract of $70.2 billion over the next nine years based on metrics that include total viewer hours.
USA Today also reported that the opening week games this season showed that TV ratings on ESPN, ABC, and TNT were up 67% over last year’s opening week, which was October 22-25. Minutes watched on League Pass Dec. 22-25 also increased by 67% compared to last season’s opening week.