Donald Trump hasn’t been a fan of kneeling during the national anthem to protest social injustice and racial inequality over the years. He’s called out Colin Kaepernick, LeBron James and Stephen Curry, among other athletes.
Trump joined Clay Travis on Outkick Tuesday morning to discussthe current state of the NBA amid the protests.
“I think it’s horrible for basketball ratings,” Trump said. “They’re down to very, very low numbers. People are angry about it. They have enough politics with guys like me. They don’t need more as they’re going up for the shot. There was a nastiness about the NBA and the way it was done. I think the NBA’s in big trouble — bigger trouble than they understand.”
NBA players, coaches, players and referees have kneeled for the national anthem to protest police brutality and racial inequality. The movement was heightened after the lead-up to George Floyd’s death was captured on video, and others like Breonna Taylor were shot and killed by police.
Ratings in the NBA have dominated cable. Eight of the 10 most-viewed primetime sports programs have been NBA games, according to Nielsen ratings. The Clippers-Lakers matchup on July 30 was No. 1 on the list. Primetime viewership is up 6% on ESPN and TNT “seeding games” compared to the 2019-20 regular-season games before the postponement.
Kaepernick began kneeling four years ago when it was unpopular NFL owners haven’t given him a chance in the NFL since he protested. Trump told Travis that he has spoken with NFL owners about the upcoming NFL season, and he hopes there are no plans to kneel.
“[Owners] know my feelings very well,” Trump said. “They’ve been expressed.”
The first NFL game is scheduled to begin in a month, but uncertainties remain. Trump said he hopes that the NFL returns, but only without protests. Adrian Peterson, Alvin Kamara, Kyler Murray and Baker Mayfield are some of the players who plan to kneel this season.
“Well [the NFL] wants to open and they want to open badly and they’ve been working with government,” Trump said. “I would say this — if they don’t stand for the national anthem I hope they don’t open. But other than that I’d love to see them open and we’re doing everything possible to get them open. They can protest in other ways. I don’t think they should protest our flag or our country.”
Mikal Bridges probably woke up confused Tuesday morning when he saw his name trending on Twitter.
Did someone say something about him? Did he get caught on camera during a weird viral moment?
None of the above.
He was trending just because he’s become a fan favorite in Phoenix, so thousands of tweets have been posted in the last 24 hours simply saying, “Mikal Bridges.”
As you can see, Suns fans are happy Bridges ended up in Phoenix. Bridges was initially headed to the 76ers in the 2018 NBA Draft. He was drafted with the 11th overall pick by the Sixers and sported a blue and red hat with the biggest smile on his face. Bridges grew up in the Philadelphia area, played his college basketball at Villanova, and his mom worked for the Sixers as the vice president of human resources.
It seemed like the perfect homecoming story until a draft-day trade was later announced. Bridges went to Phoenix for Zhaire Smith and a future first-round pick. Bridges is growing into one of the promising young “three and D” wings in the NBA, while Smith has been limited to 13 games in his first two seasons due to injuries.
The hometown kid will face the Sixers again Tuesday night with the streaking Suns. Earlier this week, the Suns were hoping the Sixers could knock off the Blazers, so Bridges tweeted the Sixers account in hope for a little brotherly love.
Philly wasn’t able to finish the job against Portland, and he’ll be hoping the Sixers don’t crash his Suns’ playoff hopes on Tuesday.
The battle for the Western Conference’s eighth seed has been epic to follow during bubble play.
It started off as five teams chasing the Grizzlies for the coveted eighth seed. Now, it’s four teams — including the Grizzlies — separated by one game with two left to play. A play-in game is all but certain now. When the bubble format was announced, it required a play-in tournament for the eighth spot if the ninth seed finished the seeding games within four games.
The Grizzlies, Trail Blazers, Suns and Spurs are fighting for two spots. Whoever gets the eighth seed will have two games to win one. The ninth team will have to beat the eight seed twice to clinch the final playoff spot.
But before that happens, two more teams have to be eliminated. All four playoff hopefuls are playing Tuesday, so more dominoes will fall by Tuesday night.
The four matchups include the Spurs-Rockets, Suns-Sixers, Grizzlies-Celtics, Mavs-Blazers. The Grizzlies are in the best position because they need just one win in the next two games to clinch a spot in the play-in tournament. Portland controls its destiny, but Phoenix and San Antonio are right on their heels in case of a slip-up.