President Donald Trump criticizes anthem idea, LaVar Ball's attitude

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Thursday, November 23, 2017

President Donald Trump continued to target NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and LaVar Ball, criticizing both in a series of tweets Wednesday.

Trump bashed a plan, as reported by The Washington Post, that would keep NFL teams in the locker room during the national anthem, saying it is "almost as bad as kneeling."

According to the Post, some NFL owners believe that the league will change its policy during the offseason and keep players in the locker room to prevent demonstrations during the anthem. The Post report cites sources "familiar with the league's inner workings."

Players did not typically stand on the sideline for the national anthem until 2009, when the NFL changed its policy to bring the teams out before "The Star-Spangled Banner."

Free-agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick launched the wave of protests during the anthem last season when he kneeled to protest police brutality against African-Americans and other inequality.

Trump has criticized Kaepernick on multiple occasions and made claims that players who protest during the anthem should be suspended or released.

Along with his tweet about the national anthem, Trump added fuel to his developing rivalry with Ball.

The president appeared to take full credit Wednesday for intervening on behalf of three UCLA men's basketball players, including Ball's son LiAngelo Ball, after they were arrested and accused of shoplifting during a team trip to China.

Trump discussed the arrests of LiAngelo Ball, Cody Riley and Jalen Hill with Chinese President Xi Jinping during his visit to China as part of a weeklong tour of Asian countries.

After the three players were allowed to return to the United States last week, Trump had tweeted wondering whether Ball, Riley and Hill would thank him for speaking on their behalf. The three players did thank Trump and the U.S. government during a news conference Nov. 15.

LaVar Ball has been less complimentary of Trump, downplaying the president's role on ESPN on Friday and challenging Trump to focus on more important things during a CNN interview Monday.

Ball's comments have triggered a back-and-forth between the two larger-than-life figures, with Trump criticizing Ball multiple times via Twitter.

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