Celtics forward Jaylen Brown doesn’t know what to make of president Donald Trump’s recent commentary on NBA All-Star LeBron James.
“I think it’s interesting,” Brown said in an interview with Bloomberg. “I don’t know if it’s propaganda, if it’s for media attention, but it’s interesting to see our president, who’s supposed to be the leader of our troops, handling himself in such a manner.”
Following James’s recent conversation with CNN anchor Don Lemon, Trump tweeted: “LeBron James was just interviewed by the dumbest man on television, Don Lemon. He made LeBron look smart, which isn’t easy to do. I like Mike!” (The last statement is in reference to heated NBA debate about whether James or Chicago Bulls legend Michael Jordan is the greatest player of all time.)
“It’s almost like a high school-type of scenario, like ‘I like Mike’ or ‘I don’t like him,’ like he’s choosing a companion or something like that,” Brown said. “It’s weird for me to see that. I would expect more from the president that’s supposed to be in charge of our country. I wouldn’t expect these type of actions, but everybody has their own way of handling themselves, so I let him do him.”
James — who had previously called the president a “bum” — told Lemon that Trump uses sports as a source of division. Asked if he agrees that Trump is using sports to “divide the country,” Brown said he isn’t sure.
“That’s a question somebody would have to ask him,” he told Bloomberg. “I would say he’s doing a good job of making a lot of people upset. I would say that. But sports is a unique thing in our country. It’s so influential. It’s almost like a sacrament for religion. People praise LeBron James more than they praise anybody else. Sports is so powerful, and I think he realizes that. I think that’s where the conflict begins.”
Brown has also been critical of the president in the past. In an interview with The Guardian‘s Donald McRae in January, he called Trump “unfit to lead.” Brown said Trump has “made it a lot more acceptable for racists to speak their minds,” perpetuating racism and bigotry. The 21-year-old has been an avid opponent of the “stick to sports” notion and encourages athletes to not only use their platforms for social and political commentary but also pursue interests outside of basketball.
Asked if he feels speaking out is one of his responsibilities as a role model, Brown said he doesn’t know if “responsibility is the right word.”
“I definitely feel like you have an influence,” he said. “I’m 21 years old, and I’m thinking about the kids that are from my neighborhood, from my community that are looking up to me and seeing me handle myself a certain way, so I do feel a responsibility in that sense to handle myself a certain way in front of those guys.”
“But in terms of engaging with the president’s shenanigans?” he continued. “I don’t necessarily feel a responsibility for that.”