Trump rescinded his White House invitation to last year’s NBA champion, the Golden State Warriors, opening a new fissure between the president and a growing number of professional athletes. Trump’s remarks stirred an already thorny national conversation about the dividing lines between politics, sports and race relations. At a rally in Alabama on Friday, Trump sparked a firestorm on social media by suggesting NFL players who kneel during the national anthem should be fired by owners, and in doing so used salty language.
Some NBA VIPs responded, including the head coach of the San Antonio Spurs, Gregg Popovich, who told reporters “our country is an embarrassment to the world.” When asked about Trump removing his invitation to the Warriors, Popovich said he thought “it was comical” since Golden State wasn’t “going to go anyway.”
Sacramento Kings owner Vivek Ranadivé said in a statement that the president’s “recent comments are deeply disappointing.”
“Our focus should be on fostering a culture of sensitivity and inclusion,” Ranadivé said.
Megabrand Nike also spoke out, saying in a statement that the sports brand “supports athletes and their right to freedom of expression on issues that are of great importance to our society.”
CORRECTION: Gregg Popovich is head coach of the San Antonio Spurs. His title was misstated in an earlier version of this article.