The former president joked that, as the coach of a women’s sports team, he would only recruit transgender athletes. “If I were a coach, I wouldn’t be talking to too many women as we know women,” he said. “I’d be getting some of these people that … they’re ‘women.'”
Trump then suggested that James might eventually choose to transition. “Somebody said that if LeBron James ever decided to get the operation, how would he be on the court? How would he be?” he mused.
James identifies as male and has never publicly expressed a desire to undergo gender confirmation surgery.
“LeBron James, you can have him,” Trump continued before further mocking the basketball player. “Did you see the basketball ratings that were terrible? They went up after his team was defeated.”
This isn’t the first time that the former president has taken aim at James. Trump called him “racist” and “divisive” after the Los Angeles Lakers star tweeted a response to the police killing of Ohio teenager Ma’Khia Bryant in April.
Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida will not attend former President Donald Trump’s rally in Sarasota on Saturday, as he monitors the aftermath of the deadly condo collapse in Surfside, a town in Miami-Dade County.
DeSantis press secretary Christina Pushaw told The Hill that the governor would continue to tend to the needs of the affected South Florida community in the wake of the harrowing event.
“We can confirm that the Governor will not attend the rally in Sarasota,” she said in a statement. “He spoke with President Trump, who agreed that this was the right decision, as the Governor’s duty is to be in Surfside making sure the families and community have what they need in the aftermath of the tragic building collapse.”
She added: “Governor DeSantis would have gone to this event in normal circumstances. He is sure the rally will draw a big crowd on this holiday weekend, as many Floridians are excited to attend.”
The development that DeSantis would forgo the event was first reported by The New York Times.
Earlier this week, DeSantis’ office refuted a report that it asked Trump to postpone the event in light of the tragedy in Surfside.
DeSantis “is focusing on his duties as Governor and the tragedy in Surfside, and has never suggested or requested that events planned in different parts of Florida – from the Stanley Cup finals to President Trump’s rally – should be canceled,” the governor’s office said in a statement earlier this week, according to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.
The Herald-Tribune reported that Trump spokesperson Liz Harrington said the distance between Surfside and Sarasota precludes any disruption in the rescue efforts.
“Like all Americans, President Trump sends his deepest condolences to those who’ve lost loved ones or been displaced by the terrible tragedy in Surfside,” she said. “The event in Sarasota, however, is on the other side of the state, 3.5 hours away, approximately the same distance from Boston to New York, and will not impact any of the recovery efforts.”
She added: “In fact, President Trump has instructed his team to collect relief aid for Surfside families both online and on-site at the Sarasota rally.”
More than a week after the collapse of the Surfside condo building, there have been 24 confirmed deaths as of Saturday, with 124 people still missing.
On Thursday, President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden visited the area to mourn with survivors and family members of individuals impacted by the tragedy.
“They’re going through hell,” Biden said of the families during his visit. “Jill and I want them to know that we’re with them and the country’s with them.”
DeSantis, who is seen as a top 2024 GOP presidential prospect in the event that Trump declines to run for office again, praised Biden for his response to the event in a moment of public comity.
“You guys have not only been supportive at the federal level, but we’ve had no bureaucracy,” he said.
Biden responded: “I promise you, there will be none.”
They said the decision came after they learned that it would not simply be a patriotic Independence Day themed event without strong political affiliation.
“After the request was made, then there was contact with the Republican Party, they contacted us and then it became apparent that it was going to be a partisan political event, rather than just a patriotic event planned for that evening,” wrote park commission chairman Bill Tunnell in the letter.
The park houses the USS Alabama, a warship which took part in naval operations during the Second World War. Park authorities have banned political events being staged at the venue since 2012 when former GOP senator Rick Santorum held a rally there.
In a statement to NBC 15 News, the Alabama GOP said that Trump had been looking forward to speaking at the event and was disappointed it was not going forward.
Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall told Al.com that he park officials sought his opinion, and that he told them to be wary of restricting free speech based on the “identity of the speaker.”
Trump has stirred rumors of a bid to return to power since leaving the White House in January.