Former Kentucky basketball stars defend LeBron James after Trump tweet
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Former Kentucky athletes are voicing their support for LeBron James after comments made about him by President Donald Trump.
The comments came Friday after the former Cleveland Cavalier star was interviewed by CNN anchor Don Lemon after James opened a new public school for at-risk elementary aged children in his hometown of Akron, Ohio.
After the interview aired, the president tweeted that Lemon was "the dumbest man on television," and that he "made Lebron look smart, which isn't easy to do."
Trump then ended the tweet with "I like Mike!" appearing to side with Michael Jordan in the debate over which athlete is the greatest NBA player of all time, according to The Associated Press.
Saturday Trump faced criticism by a number of athletes who came to James's defense, including former UK and U of L basketball stars.
Utah Jazz guard and former Louisville Cardinal Donovan Mitchell tweeted in part "I'm just sad that young kids have to see stupid tweets like these and grow up thinking it's okay ..."
Former Kentucky Wildcat Karl-Anthony Towns, now a center for the Minnesota Timberwolves, also came to James's defense, tweeting "Stop using them Twitter fingers and get stuff done for our country with that pen."
Michael Jordan also spoke out in support of James, according to The Associated Press and CNN.
"I support LeBron James. He's doing an amazing job for his community," Jordan said in a statement issued by his spokesperson on his behalf.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich, also a Republican, who often criticizes Trump, jumped to James's defense Saturday, tweeting that the president should celebrate James for his charity work instead of criticizing him.
First lady Melania Trump later chimed in on the conversation Saturday afternoon through her spokeswoman, who said the first lady would be willing to visit the school James had recently opened, saying it appears James is "working to do good things on behalf of our next generation," according to The Associated Press.
In a statement to CNN, the first lady's spokeswoman also said Trump "encourages everyone to have an open dialogue about issues facing children today," noting her Be Best initiative, which promotes the well-being of children and the importance of responsible online behavior.
Lemon, who also responded to the president's tweet Saturday, cited the first lady's Be Best initiative.
In the CNN interview with Lemon, James said he thinks the president has "used sports to kinda divide us (the country)," saying he "can't sit back and say nothing."
The president, who was attending a campaign rally in support of Republican state Sen. and Congressional candidate Troy Balderson in James's home state of Ohio, has not yet commented on the criticism.
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