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Donald Trump takes shot at NBA, LeBron, crowd chants ‘LeBron James sucks’

Michael Holley and Mike Smith look back on 18-year-old LeBron James' NBA debut on Oct. 29, 2003 and how he managed to exceed already outsized expectations.

Trailing in national polls and many key swing states, President Donald Trump has spent the final days of his campaign working to fire up his base and make sure they vote en masse (because he certainly didn’t work to expand that base).

Trump and his base are no fans of the Black Lives Matter movement, and by extension the NBA and its players — led by LeBron James — who very publicly backed the push for social change (older, white, and rural is not the NBA’s core demographic). So Donald Trump took a shot at the league during a campaign stop in Pennsylvania Monday, and the crowd responded with a “LeBron James sucks” chant.

This is just pitiful on so many levels.

First, most people in that crowd chanting about LeBron would run across the street to get his autograph and have a photo taken with him if they saw him on the street.

Second, ratings were down for the NBA in the bubble (not 71%, but down), however little of that was due to politics. Donald Trump and the people at this rally were not watching in large numbers before; them claiming to tune out didn’t impact ratings. The sport being out of season, the competition from so many sports coming back at once, the national focus on the election (cable news ratings are up across the board), and the coronavirus and its impacts all played a much larger role in the ratings issues.

Ratings were down for sports across the board. Here at NBC, that included the U.S. Open golf tournament — a sport that has a much more conservative fan base and players — and the Kentucky Derby. It wasn’t because the horses were too political.

Finally, what really bothers the people at the rally about LeBron is he is a strong Black man standing up for his rights and social justice change in this nation — change those people fear. LeBron has the strength of character and the megaphone of celebrity to reach people that otherwise might not hear or fully grasp how police brutality impacts the lives of Black people, or understand what the Black Lives Matter movement genuinely seeks. LeBron changes hearts and minds in a way the president struggles to do, he simply plays to his base.

But if this is how Trump wants to spend the final day of his campaign, go for it. You know LeBron didn’t lose any sleep over it.