President Trump on Tuesday warned pro football and baseball players not to follow the lead of the NBA in boycotting games and kneeling for the anthem in protest over racial inequality, urging them to “stand tall for our Country and our Flag.”
“People are tired of watching the highly political @NBA. Basketball ratings are WAY down, and they won’t be coming back,” the president wrote on Twitter. “I hope football and baseball are watching and learning because the same thing will be happening to them. Stand tall for our Country and our Flag!!!”
The NBA postponed a number of games last week after the Milwaukee Bucks announced they would boycott their playoff game with the Orlando Magic over the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wis., on Aug. 23.
Other NBA teams, as well as the WNBA, and some Major League Soccer and Major League Baseball teams, also joined in the boycott in solidarity.
After a three-day hiatus, the playoffs resumed on Saturday and the NBA said it would work with players to promote access to voting and combat racial inequality and advocate for police reform.
Former President Barack Obama also reportedly played a role in getting the players back on the court.
He talked to Lakers all-star LeBron James and the Oklahoma City Thunder’s Chris Paul, who is also the National Basketball Players Association president, and encouraged them to return to the playoffs, saying they could use their platform to make their case about racial injustice in policing.
The players told the former president they wanted to include him in a committee they were looking to establish to highlight their goals.
It was uncertain whether the games would return after a number of players on the Lakers and the Clippers voted to leave so they could focus their attention on fighting systemic racism.
Activism was already front and center as the NBA began their season in July with many players wearing Black Lives Matter shirts and taking a knee during the playing of the National Anthem over the death of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis police in May.
Black Lives Matter was also painted on the court.
Trump has blasted NFL players not standing for the National Anthem since shortly after former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began taking a knee during the 2016 preseason.
The NFL 2020 season begins on Sept. 10.
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