In the wake of a late-night tweet from President Trump questioning LeBron James’ intelligence, Lakers president and co-owner Jeanie Buss released a statement supporting James.
“We could not be more proud to have LeBron James as part of our Lakers family,” the statement read. “He is an incredibly thoughtful and intelligent leader and clearly appreciates the power sports has to unite communities and inspire the world to be a better place. Those efforts should be celebrated by all.”
Trump’s tweet came in response to an interview James did with CNN’s Don Lemon on Monday. The interview was mostly about the I Promise School, a public elementary school for at-risk children that James and his foundation opened on Monday.
During the interview, James said Trump is using sports to divide the country. Lemon asked about a hypothetical situation in which James was the country’s only option for president outside Trump, and James said with a laugh if that were the case he would run. When Lemon asked what James would say to Trump if they were sitting across from each other, James said he wouldn’t sit across from Trump.
“Lebron James was just interviewed by the dumbest man on television, Don Lemon,” Trump said on Twitter late Friday night. “He made Lebron look smart, which isn’t easy to do. I like Mike!”
Trump was apparently referring to retired NBA star Michael Jordan, who is now owner of the Charlotte Hornets. Trump tweeted on Saturday that he was on his way to Ohio to campaign for a Republican candidate in a special congressional election on Tuesday.
It’s not the first time James has criticized Trump, but the president never fired back while James played in Ohio, a state whose voters have helped determine the winner in 34 of 38 presidential elections since 1860.
Last year Trump attacked the Golden State Warriors by withdrawing an invitation to the White House after guard Stephen Curry said he wouldn’t go if invited.
James responded on Twitter, saying: “U bum StephenCurry30 already said he ain't going! So therefore ain't no invite. Going to White House was a great honor until you showed up!”
James also criticized Trump during a video for his digital sports programming network Uninterrupted, which led to Fox News host Laura Ingraham telling him to “shut up and dribble.”
Jordan and First Lady Melania Trump also issued statements of support of James’ initiatives in the community.
“I support L.J. He’s doing an amazing job for his community,” Jordan said through a spokesman, according to several reports.
“It looks like LeBron James is working to do good things on behalf of our next generation,” said Melania Trump’s spokeswoman, Stephanie Grisham, according to multiple outlets. “And just as she always has, the First Lady encourages everyone to have an open dialogue about issues facing children today.”