Taking time out of his busy schedule of Twitter-based attacks on everything from Iran's missile program to North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un, President Trump took aim at the professional sports crowd on Saturday, using his trademark 'You're Fired' phrase against NFL players who refused to stand during the national anthem in protest against perceived racial injustice. Hours earlier, Trump publically withdrew an invitation for NBA champions the Golden State Warriors to visit the White House after MVP Stephen Curry told reporters that he would sit out the trip.
If a player wants the privilege of making millions of dollars in the NFL,or other leagues, he or she should not be allowed to disrespect....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) 23 сентября 2017 г.
...our Great American Flag (or Country) and should stand for the National Anthem. If not, YOU'RE FIRED. Find something else to do!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) 23 сентября 2017 г.
Going to the White House is considered a great honor for a championship team.Stephen Curry is hesitating,therefore invitation is withdrawn!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) 23 сентября 2017 г.
Trump's attacks prompted an instant backlash from US pro athletes, including NBA superstars LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Chris Paul, along with NFL players and coaches who slammed the president for the divisive nature of his comments and questioned his focus on professional sports, given all the problems the country is facing.
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 (@KingJames) 23 сентября 2017 г.
A #POTUS whose name alone creates division and anger. Whose words inspire dissension and hatred can't possibly "Make America Great Again"— Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) 23 сентября 2017 г.
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 (@CP3) 23 сентября 2017 г.
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 (@RSherman_25) 23 сентября 2017 г.
It's really sad man ... our president is a asshole— Lesean McCoy (@CutonDime25) 23 сентября 2017 г.
Undeterred, Trump doubled down on his comments Sunday, asking the NFL to 'fire or suspend' players who 'disrespect our Flag & Country'.
If NFL fans refuse to go to games until players stop disrespecting our Flag & Country, you will see change take place fast. Fire or suspend!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) 24 сентября 2017 г.
...NFL attendance and ratings are WAY DOWN. Boring games yes, but many stay away because they love our country. League should back U.S.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) 24 сентября 2017 г.
Trump's remarks prompted a tidal wave of comments unusual even for his highly active Twitter page, with users posting literally hundreds of thousands of replies marking disagreement with the president.
1) Freedom of speech, 2) Per 18 US Code Section 227, it is ILLEGAL for the President of the USA to urge companies to fire private citizens— AltScalesOfJustice (@AltScalesOfJust) 23 сентября 2017 г.
Trump is more fixated on this issue than he was about KKK violence and the devastating hurricanes.— Eugene Gu, MD (@eugenegu) 24 сентября 2017 г.
Imagine picking a fight with a whole sport 😂— Asa Elliott (@AsaElliott) 24 сентября 2017 г.
Puerto Ricans will be without electricity for 4-6 months. They have no running water. They are running out of food and water.— Lynn V. (@lynnv378) 24 сентября 2017 г.
There is a humanitarian crisis there and in the US Virgin islands. Maybe you could spend your day dealing with that.— Lynn V. (@lynnv378) 24 сентября 2017 г.
Others, however, rushed to defend Trump, agreeing that taking a knee during the national anthem was 'unAmerican,' and that the 'liberal NFL' would lose viewers if they didn't discipline players.
I hope everyone boycotts the NFL. Disrespecting our flag, country and president is unAmerican.— SL (@SLandinSoCal) 24 сентября 2017 г.
The act of taking a knee during the national anthem was first popularized by NFL San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick in 2016. Kaepernick took the form of protest in 2016 in response to a spate of police violence against African Americans. Kaepernick's action has sparked similar protests in other professional sports. These actions by NFL players prompted Trump to tell a crowd that taking a knee is "total disrespect of everything that we stand for," and his recommendation to NFL owners to "fire" players who 'disrespect America's heritage.'