Omri Casspi, the Israeli member of the Golden State Warriors, questioned the leadership of U.S. President Donald Trump, who attacked Stephen Curry in a tweet on Saturday, in which he declared that the White House invitation to the basketball team had been "withdrawn."
"The number one job of a president is bringing people together," Casspi told Monty Poole, the Warrior's insider reporter for NBC Sports in the San Francisco Bay area on Sunday. "He's the one the people chose to be at the top, but he needs to bring people together. What he's creating is a divide between the people."
Asked about his observations of the new president as a foreigner who has lived in the United States for eight years, Casspi responded, "Coach [Steve Kerr] put it perfectly when he said we live in a crazy time and it's kind of sad." He noted that there is anti-Semtism and racism across the United States. "That hurts," he said. "At the end of the day, he's the president of the United States, the strongest nation in the world, and the one that needs to lead the way."
Curry had publicly expressed his opposition to accepting a White House invitation on Friday. The team held a meeting to discuss potentially going to the White House in February, when the team would be in Washington to face the Wizards. However, Trump's disinvite changed the content of the meeting.
"Going to the White House is considered a great honor for a championship team," Trump tweeted. "Stephen Curry is hesitating, therefore invitation is withdrawn!"
Casspi told NBC that the team wanted to come up with a message together. "And we felt that the president took a side and really didn't consult with nobody, didn't give us a chance," said Casspi, who signed with the NBA Champions in July.
Regarding Trump's personal attack on Curry, Casspi remarked that going at Steph is just mind boggling." Casspi, who went through pre-draft camp in Chicago with Curry in 2009, said Curry is a player others have looked up to. "He carries himself with the right manner, he has a beautiful family," noted Casspi. "He's just a state of the art guy, not the type of guy you should go at."
asspi also rejected Trump's attack on professional athletes who have kneeled in protest against racism during the singing of the national anthem.
“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now ... He is fired’,” Trump said on Friday at a rally for Alabama Senate Republican candidate Luther Strange.
Trump said on Twitter later on Saturday that, if NFL players wanted “the privilege” of high salaries, they “should stand for the National Anthem. If not, YOU‘RE FIRED. Find something else to do!”
Poole asked Casspi about Trump's statements, "how do you take that?"
"That's tough, you don't really take that," replied Casspi. "And this is one thing that we as a community shouldn't take. We've had times that presidents took advantage of different communities, and nothing good ever happened from that. A lot of bad things obviously happened. So we shouldn't. In past years, I never really talked politics but we should never accept racism, we should never accept people that try to divide the country. We should always stand together, unite. When the issue comes to racism and divide people, we should never accept it."
Another star also came out against Trump's tweets attacking athletes who take the knee during the national anthem: Stevie Wonder. The pop star kneeled in solidarity with NFL players assailed by Trump before he performed at the Golbal Citizen Festival in New York on Saturday night, the Deadline website reported.
"Tonight, I'm taking a knee for America," Wonder announced. His son Kwame came on stage to help Wonder kneel. Wonder got down on both knees and prayed for "our planet, our future, our leaders of the world, and our globe."