LeBron James 'Couldn't Care Less' if Trump Watches NBA or Not

LeBron James has brushed off President Donald Trump's claims he will no longer watch the NBA, suggesting the basketball community will not lose any sleep over his decision.

Since the NBA season restarted at the end of last month, the majority of players have knelt during the national anthem to protest against racial discrimination and police brutality after the NBA waived its rule requiring players to stand for the anthem.

On Wednesday, Trump described the sight of players taking a knee during the anthem as "disgraceful" and claimed the NBA no longer held any interest for him.

"I think it's disgraceful. We work with [the NBA]. We work very hard trying to get them open," he said during an interview with FOX News.

"I was pushing them to get open. And then I see everyone kneeling during the anthem. It's not acceptable to me. When I see them kneeling, I just turn off the game. I have no interest in the game."

In a familiar refrain, Trump then claimed the NBA TV ratings were suffering and that he would turn games off whenever he saw players kneeling.

"When I see people kneeling during the playing and disrespecting our flag and disrespecting our national anthem, what I do, personally, is turn off the game," he continued.

"And the ratings for the basketball are way down, if you know. And I hear some others are way down, including baseball. Because all of the sudden, now baseball is in the act [of kneeling].

"We have to stand up for our flag. We have to stand up for our country. We have to stand up for our anthem. And a lot of people agree with me."

James, however, insisted the NBA would thrive even without the president tuning in.

"I really don't think the basketball community are sad about losing his viewership," the four-time MVP said in a press conference on Wednesday night after the Los Angeles Lakers' 105-86 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

James declined to elaborate further on Trump, cryptically suggesting he knew where the discussion "could lead to for tomorrow," but suggested the fanbase had largely been supportive of the players' efforts to shine a light on social issues.

"I think our game is in a beautiful position and we have fans all over the world and our fans not only love the way we play the game [...] but also respect what else we are trying to bring to the game and acknowledge what's right and what's wrong," he explained.

James then aimed a thinly-veiled criticism at the lack of leadership in the U.S. and while he did not address Trump directly, he urged voters to make their voices heard at the ballot box at the presidential election in November.

"I hope everyone, no matter the race, no matter the color, no matter the size, will see what leadership that we have at the top in our country and understand that November is right around the corner and it's a big moment for us as Americans," he said.

"If we continue to talk about, 'We want better, we want change,' we have an opportunity to do that. But the game will go on without his eyes on it. I can sit here and speak for all of us that love the game of basketball: We could [not] care less."

LeBron James, NBA, Los Angeles Lakers
LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts to a call against the Oklahoma City Thunder during the fourth quarter at HP Field House at ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex on August 5 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. Kevin C. Cox/Getty