President Trump lashed out on the basketball star LeBron James in a scathing assault on Twitter on Friday night time after Mr. James criticized the president in an interview on CNN.
In a wide-ranging interview with Don Lemon, an anchor on CNN, Mr. James spoke a few college for at-risk kids that he lately helped open in his hometown, Akron, Ohio, in a partnership between his philanthropic basis and town’s public faculties. During the interview on Monday, he additionally mentioned Mr. Trump was utilizing sports activities to divide the nation.
The interview was aired once more on Friday night time, and Mr. Trump responded on Twitter shortly after, insulting Mr. James’s intelligence and that of Mr. Lemon.
“Lebron James was just interviewed by the dumbest man on television, Don Lemon,” Mr. Trump wrote. “He made Lebron look smart, which isn’t easy to do. I like Mike!”
The reference to “Mike” seemed to be Mr. Trump’s approach of taking sides within the debate over who’s the best basketball participant of all time: Mr. James or Michael Jordan.
Through a consultant, Mr. Jordan told reporters: “I support L.J. He’s doing an amazing job for his community.”
Mr. Trump has typically heralded his personal I.Q. and has questioned the intelligence of others, together with Jon Stewart and George W. Bush.
His tweet about Mr. James and Mr. Lemon got here days after he declared at a marketing campaign rally that Representative Maxine Waters of California, a Democrat who’s black, had a “very low I.Q.”
The newest assaults, directed at outstanding black folks, appeared to widen the racial divide that Mr. James spoke about on CNN.
“I would like to know why he considers these two successful black men ‘dumb,’” Torrey Smith, a large receiver for the Carolina Panthers, said on Twitter. “I know why.”
Mr. Trump made his remark a day earlier than a scheduled look on Saturday night time in Ohio — house of the Cleveland Cavaliers and many LeBron James followers — to campaign for Troy Balderson, a state senator who’s operating in a particular election for the House of Representatives.
Mr. Lemon came to Mr. James’s defense on Saturday morning, tweeting: “Who’s the real dummy? A man who puts kids in classrooms or one who puts kids in cages?” He added the hashtag #BeBest, a reference to an initiative by the primary woman, Melania Trump, that aims to help children.
Stephanie Grisham, Ms. Trump’s communications director, mentioned in a press release: “It looks like LeBron James is working to do good things on behalf of our next generation and just as she always has, the first lady encourages everyone to have an open dialogue about issues facing children today.”
Ms. Grisham added that Ms. Trump can be open to visiting Mr. James’s new college in Akron.
During the CNN interview, Mr. James mentioned conversations about race had “taken over” partly as a result of “our president is kind of trying to divide us.” “Kind of?” Mr. Lemon mentioned, adopted by a chuckle.
“He is,” Mr. James mentioned. “He’s dividing us.”
Mr. James mentioned his involvement in sports activities was the primary time “I ever was around someone white,” including, “And I got an opportunity to see them and learn about them and they got an opportunity to learn about me, and we became very good friends.”
Mr. James has been vital of the president prior to now. Last September he called Mr. Trump a “bum” after the president appeared to disinvite the N.B.A. championship-winning Golden State Warriors from a conventional White House go to as a result of one in every of their stars, Stephen Curry, criticized Mr. Trump.
“U bum @StephenCurry30 already said he ain’t going!” Mr. James wrote on Twitter. “So therefore ain’t no invite. Going to White House was a great honor until you showed up!”
In June, earlier than Mr. James left the Cavaliers for the Los Angeles Lakers, Mr. Curry and Mr. James united throughout the N.B.A. finals to say that they might boycott the White House.
“I know whoever wins this series, no one wants an invite,” Mr. James mentioned on the time. Afterward, Mr. Trump introduced that neither team was invited.
On Monday, the identical day because the CNN interview, Mr. James instructed ESPN that he felt compelled to talk out in regards to the Trump administration.
“For someone to try to divide us by using our platform of sport?” he mentioned. “Sport has given me everything I could ever ask for. I couldn’t let that happen.”
Mr. Trump’s tweet on Saturday was swiftly condemned by many on social media, together with Dan Rather, the previous CBS News anchor, who mentioned the president’s phrases had been racist.
“This is apparently what the President of the United States feels the need to share with the world at what should be long past his bedtime? It’s a disgrace. It’s racist. And it’s the product of petty but dangerous hatreds,” Mr. Rather wrote. “I repeat this is the PRESIDENT??!?”
Numerous present and former N.B.A. gamers additionally denounced the president’s tweet.
As of Saturday morning, Mr. James remained silent on the matter.
By late Saturday morning, the president had moved on, and was wishing the Coast Guard a contented birthday on Twitter.