Ex-NBA players critical of President Trump following violence in Charlottesville


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The White House released a statement Sunday clarifying what President Trump meant regarding the Charlottesville, Virginia violence.

LOS ANGELES — Two retired NBA players were critical of President Trump in the wake of violence in Charlottesville, Va., on Saturday that stemmed from a white supremacy march.

Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, a former NBA player, said Trump’s language during the 2016 presidential election may have contributed the events in Charlottesville, Va., where a motorist drove a car into peaceful counter-protesters, killing one and injuring 19 others.

“At some point, (Trump) has to be held responsible for some of the language that he was dishing out, as well, in a sense to influence these types of groups,’’ Abdul-Rauf, who once stirred controversy for refusing to stand for the national anthem, told USA TODAY Sports on Sunday.

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Critics accused Trump of using racially-charged language during the election in an effort to appeal to voters. Abdul-Rauf, who played nine seasons in the NBA, said the events of Charlottesville demonstrated the power of language.

“Look, if you’re just talking, if you’re just protesting, according to the laws of this country, you have a right to do that,’’ he said. “As long as you as you’re not physically harming someone else. But it shows that words are powerful and sometimes this is what happens. Not everybody can hold their emotions in check.’’

Stephen Jackson, who played 14 seasons in the NBA, criticized Trump for not specifically condemning racism in the aftermath of the violent protest.

“At the end of the day, if you’re not against racism, you’re racist,’’ Jackson said. “Point blank.’’

On Saturday, Trump said, “We condemn in the strongest most possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides. On many sides.’’

By contrast, Jackson said, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe directly addressed white nationalists when the governor said, “There is no place for you here, there is no place for you in America.’’

Added Jackson, “I wish (Trump) would’ve spoke like the governor of Virginia and let it be known that we’re not going to tolerate this.’’

Abdul-Rauf and Jackson were in Los Angeles for Ice Cube’s Big3 3event at Staples Center.

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