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LeBron James defends NFL protests: 'It's not about the disrespect of our flag'

The NBA champion said the protests are "about equality."

ByABC News
September 25, 2017, 2:06 PM

— -- NBA All-Star LeBron James spoke to the press today, after Sunday's peaceful protests at NFL games, in which many players took a knee during the national anthem in support of equality.

"It's powerful what all these athletes are doing," James said. "It's not about the disrespect of our flag and the military that's made this world free."

He added, "It's about equality."

The protests took place after President Donald Trump called for the NFL to "fire or suspend" players who kneel during "The Star-Spangled Banner."

"If NFL fans refuse to go to games until players stop disrespecting our Flag & Country, you will see change take place fast. Fire or suspend!" he tweeted on Sunday. He made similar comments Friday in Huntsville, Alabama.

James, who plays for the Cleveland Cavaliers, commented on the support that NFL players got not only from teammates but from team owners as well, some of whom took the field Sunday in solidarity. He said what Trump said over the weekend "frustrated me."

"He used the sports platform to divide us. Sports is so amazing, what sports can do for everyone — no matter shape, size, race — brings people together like no other. I'm not going to let one individual — no matter the power, the impact he or she should have — ever use sport as a platform to divide us," James said. "The people run this country, not one person. And damn sure not him."

While James hasn't considered taking a knee when the NBA's regular season starts up again in a couple of weeks, he said he will continue to speak out and educate the people of Ohio.

"I'm doing OK for myself. My family is doing OK," he said. "Even if we weren't doing OK financially, I'd still be trying to find a way to inspire the youth ... Personally, my voice is more important than my knee."

But James didn't detract from the protests, which then–49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick started during last year's preseason. James said he wishes he could hire Kaepernick, who is now a free agent.

"I salute Colin for being as powerful as he was," James said. "I wish I owned an NFL team right now. I'd sign him today."