The Washington Wizards' 2017-18 media day came at an interesting time on Monday, fresh off a weekend where President Donald Trump crossed over into sports to create controversy in both the NBA and NFL. Several Wizards players had voiced their displeasure with what Trump said about Colin Kaepernick and Steph Curry on social media. On Monday, they were offered the opportunity to speak in-depth and without constrictive 140-character limits.
Shooting guard Bradley Beal, for one, had some strong words for Trump, who resides just blocks from where the Wizards play their games.
"If we can't exercise our freedom of speech, then what are the amendments for? I know he's president, but at the same time I don't support anything that he represents or what he's doing," Beal said.
"Honestly, that's not a leader. For you to come out and for one disrespect a whole sport the whole world loves and call people by the names SOBs, that's out of pocket to me. You have guys who won a championship and they have the freedom of deciding whether or not they want to go. One man decides he doesn't want to go, how in the world can you just take it away? That doesn't make any sense to me. To me, you're a clown. That's unacceptable. That's not what a leader does. Your job is to bring everybody together. Since you've gotten in office, that hasn't been the case. There are so many things going on in the world. Puerto Rico doesn't have water or power and they're part of the U.S. You're focused on guys kneeling for the national anthem."
Point guard John Wall was brief in his comments, but he made it clear he is not a fan of how the president has handled the last few days.
"I don't like anything that he's been saying. I don't respect it," Wall said. "We have bigger issues in this world that you need to focus on than somebody taking a knee."
Kaepernick and protests of the national anthem were a big deal last season as well. The Wizards decided to show solidarity by locking arms during the national anthem before games. But after Trump's recent comments calling Kaepernick a "son of a b****," those protests have taken on new forms in the NFL and other sports.
Head coach Scott Brooks says there will be a conversation between him and the WIzards players on how they will respond.
"I haven't had any discussions with the team as of yet, but there definitely will be discussions. It's a hot topic right now and rightfully so," Brooks said. "We've always done things together. I think it's stronger when you do it in a group setting. Whatever we decide on, we're going to do it together."
Those who are from other countries were also asked about Trump on Monday at Capital One Arena. Marcin Gortat and Ian Mahinmi each have unique perspectives being from Europe, but as residents of Washington, D.C. who make their living in the United States.
Mahinmi said it has been an interesting time in his family, as his wife and daughters were all born in the U.S. Gortat didn't say much, other than he's happy with the president he has back home in Poland.
"I'm truly grateful for a great president in my country," Gortat said with a chuckle. "It's tough. I will say that I'm truly proud of the president of Poland, Andrzej Duda, and what he stands for and what he represents."
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