National Basketball Association personalities led by Commissioner Adam Silver and superstar LeBron James have joined the number of critics calling United States president Donald Trump out for being a racist. Silver said that Trump spewing out racist and vulgar remarks about other countries is “discouraging” for many of his contemporaries.
The latest racist accusations against Trump came after he allegedly described African nations, Haiti, and El Salvador as “s***hole countries” during a meeting with Democrat and Republican lawmakers in the Oval Office. The group was supposedly discussing immigration and the possibility of striking a deal.
“Why are we having all these people from s***hole countries come here,” Trump allegedly asked the lawmakers. “Why do we need more Haitians?”
The rumored vulgar comments made by Trump struck a chord within the NBA circle as a number of its members, including general managers and players, hail from the countries supposedly derided by the president.
Silver told ESPN that he had a discussion with Toronto Raptors General Manager Masai Ujiri, who is an immigrant from Nigeria, about the racist remarks. Silver said that Ujiri was upset with Trump for deriding African nations, according to NBA.com.
“I certainly understand how upset [Ujiri] is as an immigrant to this country and Canada,” Silver said. “I think for him, someone who does so much in his daily life to improve the life of Africans through his personal foundation, through our Basketball Without Borders program, it is discouraging.”
Silver further said that he is confident that Ujiri, the NBA, and the NBA Players Association will not be deterred from doing what they can to create real change in the world, ESPN reports.
Despite the recent Trump racial controversy affecting members of the NBA, Silver stressed that he remains optimistic that the country will continue moving forward to become better.
“Certainly, as I am reminded of the history of this country, much of it which took place during my lifetime, there has been tremendous progress, there is no question about it,” Silver said. “Having said that, we have a long way to go.”
The NBA has welcomed players and staff from African nations as well as from Haiti. Former NBA player Samuel Dalembert was born and raised in Haiti. The free agent center is noted for his relief efforts following the 2010 Haiti earthquake. Skal Labissiere, currently of the Sacramento Kings, was also born in Haiti and was there when the earthquake happened. In fact, he spent weeks trying to walk again after their home collapsed on him and his parents.
While Dalembert and Labissiere have yet to comment publicly on the racist comments supposedly uttered by Trump, former NBA player Olden Polynice took to Twitter to denounce Trump and his reported racial slur against his home country, according to The Denver Post.
“I’ve been fighting this fight for 30 years,” Polynice tweeted. “It continues.”
Polynice is not one to shy away from politics as he went on a hunger strike in the early 90s to protest the Clinton administration’s handling of Haitian refugees.
Ujiri and some other NBA personalities also made their feelings known regarding racism and Trump.
“I don’t think it’s fair, and I don’t think it’s what inspiring leadership can be,” Ujiri told ESPN. “What sense of home are we giving people if you are calling where they live – and where they’re from – a s***hole.”
Ujiri also said that, while he is grateful for the opportunities he found in the United States and Canada, he believes that other people in other places deserve to get their own chances to succeed. Ujiri also said that leaders such as Trump should “not continue to put people down.”
LeBron James also blasted Trump saying the president has given racist people “an opportunity to be out and outspoken without fear.”
David West of the Golden State Warriors condemned Trump for his comment. West said that it was inhumane for Trump to “further step on people who are already at a disadvantage, not by their own doing.”
Trump has since denied ever saying the “s***hole” comment. He even told reporters on Sunday that he is “the least racist president” ever.