- The Washington Times - Monday, September 25, 2017

Rankled by what President Trump said, Wizards shooting guard Bradley Beal thought about what he wanted to say, picked up his phone and typed in a query Saturday.

“How you gonna withdraw an invite that somebody already said they weren’t attending?” Beal tweeted.

He was referring to Trump’s tweet that said the president had withdrawn a White House invitation to Golden State Warriors star Steph Curry, who had previously said he would not go to the White House as is tradition for championship-winning sports teams.

SEE ALSO: SNYDER: Keeping politics out of sports a losing battle

A day later, Beal retweeted himself. Monday, as the Washington Wizards‘ media day was unfolding, Beal doubled-down on the his social media comments about the president, referring to him as a “clown.”

“Well, I feel like, like honestly, that’s not a leader,” Beal said. “For you to come out and, for one, disrespect a whole sport that the whole world basically loves and call people out by names, SOBs, that’s out of pocket to me. You have guys who won the championship and they have the freedom of deciding whether or not they want to go. When one man decides not to go, how in the world can you take an invite — that makes no sense to me. To me, you’re a clown. That’s unacceptable. That’s not what a leader does.

“Your job is supposed to bring everybody together. Everybody in the world feels like since you’ve gotten in office, that hasn’t been the case. There’s a lot of issues going around the world. Puerto Rico doesn’t have water or power, they’re still part of the U.S., but you’re worried about guys kneeling during the national anthem. Well, if you would actually look at the reason they’re kneeling versus your own personal pleasure, then you’ll fully understand. But until you do that, you’re not going to understand it.

“I disagree with what he’s doing,” Beal went on. “I disagree with his thoughts. Hopefully, as a nation we can come together better and understand what’s really at stake here, and the disasters that are really going on in everyday life and see it from the perspective of people who actually go through it. It’s different to see it from a Twitter screen and social media. When you have people actually dealing with nonsense on a daily basis, it comes to a point where it gets out of hand and people get tired of it. So, I voiced my opinion just like everybody else did around the league, around different leagues, and around social media world. If we can’t exercise our rights to freedom of speech, then what are the amendments for? You’re doing it, so why can’t we do it? It’s a lot of stuff that I disagree, but, at the end of the day, he’s the president, at the same time, I don’t support anything that he represents or what he’s doing.”

Beal’s comments were part of a third consecutive day of back-and-forth between the president and multiple athletes. In Cleveland, LeBron James followed his weekend social media comments by further explaining the issues he has with the president. In San Antonio, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, an Air Force Academy graduate who considered a career in the CIA and has been an outspoken critic of Trump, talked to reporters for roughly 20 minutes and spent about five on basketball topics. In Houston, Rockets point guard Chris Paul, who is the president of the NBA players association, said he was disappointed about what his children were seeing from the president.

The conversations were expected following a tumultuous weekend between the president and athletes in the NFL and NBA. For the Wizards, the conversations came to the fore when they informally opened the season with media day at Capital One Arena. Wall, 27, and Beal, 24, are the young leaders of the defending Southeast Division champions. Part of their job after being pushed to the front of the team is to handle larger issues that come up.

Beal has not shied from the process. He has addressed social issues multiple times through his Twitter account. He’s also spoken openly when asked by reporters.

Wall shared his thoughts when asked Monday, too.

“I don’t like anything he’s been saying,” Wall said. “I don’t respect him, I feel like you can’t control what people want to do, and we have bigger issues in this world that you need to be focusing on instead of focusing on all these people taking a knee. It means something more important, they’re doing it for a reason, and you can’t do nothing but respect their decision. But you’re coming out and saying what people are and what they do, you’re not being respectful, you’re not being mindful … I don’t respect him.”

The international influence of the NBA offers two unique perspectives on the Wizards‘ roster. Center Ian Mahinmi was born in Rouen, France and grew up to play with the French national team. His wife is from Texas and both of his girls were born in the United States. He’s an eternally upbeat person, which has influenced his view of the discussion around race, politics and sports.

“I feel like sometimes we’ve got to go through times like that to ask ourselves the right questions, challenge ourselves and see how we’re going to react in those situations,” Mahinmi said. “The conversations I have with my wife and my family right now is good conversations. If it wasn’t for all of that, we wouldn’t have those conversations, so, somehow, it’s good.”

His fellow center, Marcin Gortat, is a native of Poland. Gortat has an enormous platform in his home country and has considered a future in politics. He is usually loose-tongued, a trait that has brought him trouble in the past. He hedged Monday.

“It’s tough,” Gortat said. “It’s tough. I would say, I’m truly proud of my president of Poland, Andrzej Duda. I’m truly proud of him, what he stands for, what he represents. I was able to meet him two, three times already and I was able to talk to him about things and I’m truly grateful for a great president in my country.”

With that, he chuckled and let the topic be.

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