(AP) — Reactions to President Donald Trump’s comments about football players who kneel during the national anthem, and his decision to rescind a White House invitation to Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors:
At a rally in Alabama on Friday night, Trump suggested that NFL owners fire players who kneel during the anthem, and fans should consider walking out in protest. On Saturday morning, Trump tweeted that he withdrew the invitation to Curry because the two-time NBA MVP hesitated to attend the traditional trip by the NBA champions. Hours later, the Warriors said they would skip the White House visit as a team.
Bruce Maxwell knew that people would be watching, and so he took a knee, pulling baseball into a polarizing protest movement fueled by stars in the NFL, NBA and elsewhere.
Maxwell became the first major league baseball player to kneel during the national anthem before Khris Davis hit his 40th home run to lift the Oakland Athletics over the Texas Rangers 1-0 on Saturday night.
“Divisive comments like these demonstrate an unfortunate lack of respect for the NFL, our great game and all of our players.” — NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.
“The peaceful demonstrations by some of our players have generated a wide array of responses. Those opinions are protected speech and a freedom that has been paid for by the sacrifice of men and women throughout history.” — DeMaurice Smith, executive director of the NFL Players Association.
“By acting and not going, hopefully that will inspire some change when it comes to what we tolerate in this country and what is accepted and what we turn a blind eye to.” — Stephen Curry, on skipping the White House visit, during the Warriors’ media day on Friday.
“U bum @StephenCurry30 already said he ain’t going! So therefore ain’t no invite. Going to White House was a great honor until you showed up!” — LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
“In lieu of a visit to the White House, we have decided that we’ll constructively use our trip to the nation’s capital in February to celebrate equality, diversity and inclusion — the values that we embrace as an organization.” — Statement by the Golden State Warriors.
“This is the supremacist attitude at its worst. Trump is dishonoring the country and the flag with such a bold threat.” — the Rev. Jesse Jackson in an interview with The Associated Press.
“I was in favor of the team visiting the White House and thought it was a rare opportunity for these players to share their views directly with the president. I am disappointed that that will not happen. More importantly, I am proud of our players for taking an active role in their communities and continuing to speak out on critically important issues.” — NBA Commissioner Adam Silver.
“I support my son 100 percent. I know he respects the Office of the Presidency and I applaud him for standing up for what he believes in.” — former NBA player Dell Curry, Stephen Curry’s father.
“Comments like we heard last night from the president are inappropriate, offensive and divisive. We are proud of our players, the vast majority of whom use their NFL platform to make a positive difference in our society.” — New York Giants owners John Mara and Steve Tisch.
“The behavior of the President is unacceptable and needs to be addressed. If you do not Condemn this divisive Rhetoric you are Condoning it!!” — Richard Sherman of the Seattle Seahawks.
“With everything that’s going on in our country, why are YOU focused on who’s kneeling and visiting the White House??? #StayInYoLane.” — Chris Paul of the Houston Rockets.
“Our country needs unifying leadership right now, not more divisiveness. We need to seek to understand each other and have civil discourse instead of condemnation and sound bites. I know our players who kneeled for the anthem and these are smart young men of character who want to make our world a better place for everyone. They wanted to start a conversation and are making a difference in our community, including working with law enforcement to bring people together. We all can benefit from learning, listening and respecting each other.” — Stephen Ross, Miami Dolphins owner and founder of the Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality.
“Steph very well thought, and eloquently presented. Thank you for speaking for the majority. A Mr October tip of the cap.” — baseball Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson.
“The callous and offensive comments made by the president are contradictory to what this great country stands for. Our players have exercised their rights as United States citizens in order to spark conversation and action to address social injustice. We will continue to support them in their peaceful pursuit of positive change in our country and around the world. The San Francisco 49ers will continue to work toward bringing communities, and those who serve them, closer together.” — San Francisco 49ers CEO Jed York.
“That’s why this is the best country in the world. And that’s why I want to be in this country for the rest of my life because you have freedom of speech and it shouldn’t go away.” — Buffalo Sabres goalie Robin Lehner, a Swede who wore a Trump sticker on the back of his goalie mask in November.
“Stick together, stand up for each other, ride with each other, because believe me we all we got. It has nothing to do with football or business. Y’all are our stars. You represent us. Y’all are our strong heroes. Let’s show that strength, please.” — music mogul Diddy.
“It’s unfortunate that the President decided to use his immense platform to make divisive and offensive statements about our players and the NFL. We strongly believe that players are leaders in our communities and positive influences. They have achieved their positions through tremendous work and dedication and should be celebrated for their success and positive impact. We believe it is important to support any of our players who choose to peacefully express themselves with the hope of change for good. As Americans, we are fortunate to be able to speak openly and freely.” — Green Bay Packers President and CEO Mark Murphy.