By Michael Teich
As a four-time Olympic gold medalist, Lisa Leslie is used to wearing the red, white, and blue, and though she prefers to stand for the national anthem, the former basketball star said everyone has the right to express their opinions.
"I would not kneel because that’s not what I want to stand for, but I am very much in support of black men to have the opportunity to have equal rights," Leslie said Wednesday in an interview with Cheddar.
The former WNBA star said President Trump's obsession with NFL players choosing to kneel during the anthem doesn't reflect America's democratic values.
"There are so many things going on in the world that are more important than what's happening, that he focuses so much on trying to be the dictator of our country," Leslie said, adding: "It's very sad where we are, and how much we've opened ourselves up into being a true reality show."
After berating football players several times for kneeling during the national anthem to protest police brutality, Trump again lashed out at the NFL by canceling the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles' invitation to the White House after he learned only some of players planned to attend.
President Trump’s antagonism with the NFL and its players has gone beyond the anthem and now appears to be in service of his own political agenda, said Frank Zaccanelli, the CEO of Fiamma Partners and former president and co-owner of the Dallas Mavericks basketball team.
"This is not defendable," Zaccanelli said in his own interview with Cheddar. "What he has done is he has created an incredible canyon between, not only the sports world, but people who are sensitized to his rhetoric that is divisive and offensive.”
Leslie isn't the only basketball star to speak out against Trump singling out football players. LeBron James, Stephen Curry, and Kevin Durant expressed their dissatisfaction with Trump.
"I know regardless of who wins this series, no one wants an invite anyway," said James, whose Cleveland Cavaliers are down 3-0 to Curry and Durant's Golden State Warriors in the NBA finals.
Zaccanelli said if he still owned an NBA championship team, he would "probably not" accept an invitation to the White House under these circumstances.
For the full interview, click here.