Jordan backs James after president questions player's intelligence

Reuters
Jun 8, 2018; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) tries to pass the ball against Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) during the third quarter in game four of the 2018 NBA Finals at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

NBA: Finals-Golden State Warriors at Cleveland Cavaliers

Jun 8, 2018; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) tries to pass the ball against Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) during the third quarter in game four of the 2018 NBA Finals at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

(Reuters) - NBA legend Michael Jordan and U.S. athletes rallied to LeBron James' defense on Saturday after U.S. President Donald Trump questioned the star player's intelligence in a tweet.

"I support LJ. He’s doing an amazing job for his community,” Jordan, now owner of the National Basketball Association's Charlotte Hornets, told NBC News through a spokesperson.

The comment by Jordan and others came after Trump had tweeted:

"Lebron James was just interviewed by the dumbest man on television, Don Lemon. He made Lebron look smart, which isn’t easy to do. I like Mike!"

Trump was referring to an interview CNN's Lemon did in the days after James, who now plays for the Los Angeles Lakers, and his foundation had opened a public school for some of the most disadvantaged children in his hometown of Akron, Ohio.

The president's "I like Mike!" comment apparently was Trump stating his opinion on the debate of whether six-time NBA champion Jordan or James, the four-time league most valuable player and three times champion, is the NBA's best all-time player.

Even the president's wife was supportive of James' work with children.

"It looks like LeBron James is working to do good things on behalf of our next generation and just as she always has, the First Lady encourages everyone to have an open dialogue about issues facing children today," Melania Trump said in a statement issued by her spokeswoman.

NBA player Karl-Anthony Towns added in a tweet: "So let me get this straight: Flint, MI has dirty water still, but you worried about an interview about a man doing good for education and generations of kids in his hometown?"

(Reporting by Gene Cherry in Raleigh, North Carolina; Editing by Alistair Bell)

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