INDEPENDENCE, Ohio -- Below is an edited, unofficial transcript of LeBron James' thoughts on President Donald Trump and athlete-led protests in response to Trump's criticisms during Cavaliers' media day.
"First of all, I salute, like I said yesterday if you guys have seen my social media platform, I salute the NFL, the coaches, the players, the owners, the fans. Everyone that had anything (to do) or any association with the NFL yesterday was unbelievable. It was solidarity and there was no divide. There was no divide even from that guy that continues to try to divide us as people. Like I said on one of my social media platforms a couple days ago, the thing that kind of frustrated me and pissed me off a little bit is the fact that he's now (using) sports, he used the sports platform to try to divide us and sports is so, is so, is so amazing. What sports can do for everyone, no matter the shape or size or race or ethnicity or religion or whatever. People find teams, people find players, people find colors because of sport and they just gravitate towards that and they just make them so happy. And it brings people together like none other.
"And we're not going to let - I'm not going to let while I have this platform - to let one individual, no matter the power, no matter the impact that he should have or she should have, ever use sport as a platform to divide us. And then you go to the other side when you don't talk about sports and they try to divide us from that side as well. And the one thing that I can say and just think about is how can we personally, throughout everything that that guy is doing, no matter if you voted for him or not - you may have made a mistake and that's OK. If you voted for him, that's OK. I mean, I've done things for my kids and realized I shouldn't have given my daughter that many damn Skittles. Maybe I shouldn't have done that. She won't go to sleep now. Can we sit up here and say that I'm trying to make a difference? And can we sit up here and say that I can look myself in the mirror and say that I want the best for the American people, no matter the skin color, no matter the race, no matter how tall or athletic you are or whatever the case may be, can we sit up here and say that we are trying to make a difference? Because we know this is the greatest country in the world. It's the land of the free. But we still have problems just like everybody else and when we have those problems, we have to figure out a way how we come together and be as great as we can be as a people. Because the people run this country. Not one individual. And damn sure not him.
"So, as I got this platform and as people I have a way to inspire and I have a way for my word to be bond, I will lend my voice, I will lend my passion, I will lend my money, I will lend my resources to my youth and my inner city and outside of my inner city to let these kids know that there is hope. There is greater walks of life. And not one individual, no matter if it's the President of the United States or if it's someone in your household, can stop your dreams from becoming a reality. It's that simple. Or maybe not that simple if you can't appreciate it."
Will NBA players protest during the national anthem?
"I wouldn't be surprised. I wouldn't be surprised if something trickled down to the NBA it no change happened between now and the 17th. So, I wouldn't be surprised."
LeBron James talks about Trump at Cavs Media Day 2017 Part 4
What about Ohio voters who are your fans?
"Well, I mean, that's a great question. At the end of the day, like I said, I don't think a lot of people was educated. And I think that's one of the biggest problems that we have that when it becomes vote time, that people are just not educated on either the individual or what's actually going on in the state of the world right now. Not that particular state, but in the state of the world. I don't think a lot of people are educated. And they make choices and say things that are uneducated. And I'm saying that the people of Ohio wasn't educated? Am I saying that some of the other states that voted for him was uneducated? They could have been or they could not have been. But that doesn't mean that it was the right choice. I mean, you can go back into the history of time in sports and say the same thing because we keep bringing sports and politics into it. So, you can look back at some of the greatest drafts of all time and say that, 'OK, did the Trail Blazers make the right choice when they took Sam Bowie?' I mean, can we all sit up here and say that they should have taken Michael Jordan? Yes, or no? So, for me as a professional athlete in this state and even though this state voted for Trump, that doesn't stop me inspiring the people of this state and inspiring the youth. Because I would be even more at wrong if I started to pound the people of Ohio. That makes zero sense. My job is and my calling is much bigger than that guy. I don't even like saying his name. So while I have this platform, I will continue to inspire the state of Ohio no only by what I do on the floor but also by putting 1300 kids into school and spending almost $45 million."
Regrets over namecalling with the president?
"No, name calling. What I say? That's not a name call. You bum. Me and my friends call me that all the time. I'm not his friend, though. I don't want to see that on the note. He's not my friend. No, when I woke up and saw what he said about Steph Curry. First of all, it's so funny because it's like you inviting me to your party, right? As a matter of fact, it's not like you invited me. It's almost, like, 'Tom, hey, I'm not going to be able to make it. I'm not coming and then you would be like, 'LeBron, guess what? You're not invited. I wasn't coming anyways, so that was funny to me when I woke up and saw that. So, my first initial response was, you bum.
"I can't ... you don't understand the magnitude and you don't understand, he doesn't understand the power that he has for being the leader of this beautiful country. He doesn't understand how many kids, no matter the race, look up to the President of the United State for guidance, for leadership, for words of encouragement. He doesn't understand that and that's what makes me more sick than anything, that we have someone that's ... this is the most, this is the No. 1 position in the world. Being the president of the United States is the most powerful position in the world. It's the most powerful position in the world and we are at a time where the most powerful position in the world has an opportunity to bring us closer together as a people and inspire the youth and put the youth at ease saying that it is OK for me to walk down the street and not be judged because of the color of my skin or because of my race and he has no recollection of that and he doesn't even care. Maybe he does? But he doesn't care, so do I take away, do I just take away "U bum" off my, no, because I would have deleted my tweet."
Any positives to the protests, back-and-forth with the president?
"Absolutely, the conversation is happening. Me, D-Wade, CP and Melo stood on the stage of the biggest night of sports, at the ESPYs, that's the biggest night in sport where all our colleagues from all other sports, champions and people who have been praised all over the world for their accomplishments in that last year and we stood on stage and understand the magnitude of what we were headed into, so I love the fact that the conversation has started. I watched Sunday Countdown yesterday at 10 o'clock and for the first 20 minutes, Charles Woodson, Rex Ryan, Randy Moss, all those guys sat up there and talked about it for 30 minutes and Rex Ryan said he supported Trump in the beginning and he voted for Trump and gave Trump money and had a rally for Trump and he said, he don't know if he made the right choice. So, the conversation is being had."
Will he take a knee during anthem?
We all have the right to express our feelings about whatever is going on at that particular time. I respect that from my teammate and I respect that from anybody else in the league. For me personally, my voice is more important than my knee. I talk (to media) every single day, what I say I think it should hit home for a lot of people. I don't believe I have to get on my knee to even further what I'm talking about. I don't down anybody that is doing anything in the NFL. I salute Colin Kaepernick for being as powerful as he was and being the one who had to fall on his sword unfortunate . I hate that and I hope--I wish I owned an NFL team right now I'd sign him today. But I'm not. But I think my voice what I do in my community and what I stand for, I don't think I have to show more by getting on a knee or doing something else. It's powerful what all these athletes are doing. We even had the first baseball player do it two nights ago, that's phenomenal. I commend these guys and I commend guys who are trying to make a difference.
"Because it's not about the disrespect of the flag and our military and everybody has made this world free. It is about equality and people having the option and the freedom to speak upon things they feel that aren't just. It's not about the disrespect of the flag. I hope anybody that has anyone in the military - I do not - I do understand this is not a disrespect to the men and women who have served our world to help us become free. It's not about that. The people that are trying to divide us to say it's disrespect to the military families and the people who served our country. It is not about that, it's the furthest thing from that."
What about Dan Gilbert's relationship with president, Trump called him a good friend
"We have not discussed it face to face. It has no impact. I think if things when you put yourself in position like that, to stand close to the guy like that--if anyone stands next to that guy he will call you close friends. He doesn't even know you. That's just how irrational his mind is. I can't speak for Dan, he's his own man. I can't speak for the situation that happened, he can tell you about that. I think, for me, as the player for this franchise, I have to do what I can do to better this team and better the conversation. It hasn't changed my relationship, it hasn't changed my outlook on the situation. You know how I feel about that."
Risking his own money to speak against Trump
"I can only speak for myself. I can't speak for none other. I definitely know the people that's paved the way for myself today. You talk about guys like Muhammad Ali and Jim Brown and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bill Russell and Jesse Owens and Jackie Robinson and Austin Carr. Those guys paved the way for guys like myself where I can feel confident about my words. I can feel confident about what I say and hopefully that it hits home for somebody. I don't really get involved into the money issue thing. Because I'm doing OK for myself. I'm doing OK for myself. My family is doing OK. But even if we weren't doing OK financially, I would still be trying to find a way to just better the youth and inspire the youth. But like I said, I can only speak for myself."...Read more