LeBron James accuses President Trump of using sports to divide the country

Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James warms up before Game 5 of basketball's NBA Finals between the Golden State Warriors and the Cavaliers in Oakland, Calif., Monday, June 12, 2017. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Basketball star LeBron James went one-on-one with President Donald Trump in a video message accusing the president of trying to use sports to divide the country.

The Cleveland Cavaliers power forward said the divide was opened during the racially-charged protests in Charlottesville and the president's response. "It’s even hitting more home for me now because he’s now using sports as the platform to try and divide us," James said.

"We all know how much sports brings us together, how much passion it has, how much we love and care and friendships and everything it creates. And for him to try and use this platform, even more, it’s not something I can stand for, it’s not something I can be quiet about," he added.

James urged Americans to "come together," saying, "This is a very critical time and me, in the position I am, I had to voice this to ya’ll."

The statement was issued amid a back and forth between the White House and the sports community that began in earnest on Friday when Golden State Warriors MVP Steph Curry said he would be skipping the traditional visit to the White House made by the reigning NBA Champions.

Trump responded to the statement on Saturday morning in Tweet, saying he was withdrawing the invitation.

The Golden State Warriors issued an official response, regretting the president's decision which amounted to a dis-invitation for the entire team.

"While we intended to meet as a team at the first opportunity we had this morning to collaboratively discuss a potential visit to the White House, we accept that President Trump has made it clear that we are not invited," the Warriors said in a press release.

"We're disappointed that we did not have an opportunity during this process to share our views or have open dialogue on issues impacting our communities that we felt would be important to raise."

LeBron James weighed in to support his former rival in the 2017 NBA Finals, calling Trump a "bum," charging that a visit to the White House "was a great honor until you showed up!"

The trash talk between the President of the United States and members of the sports community has escalated in recent days from the basketball court to the gridiron.

Donald Trump took on the National Football League during a campaign speech in Huntsville, Alabama on Friday night encouraging the NFL to fire players who kneel during the national anthem.

He followed up his remarks in Alabama with two fiery tweets saying, "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....our Great American Flag (or Country) and should stand for the National Anthem. If not, YOU'RE FIRED. Find something else to do!"

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