NEW YORK – A day after Nike unveiled an ad campaign featuring controversial quarterback Colin Kaepernick, there was no shortage of reactions on Tuesday.
Leading the way were the NFL and President Donald Trump.
“I think it’s a terrible message,” Trump, speaking to The Daily Caller, said of Nike using Kaepernick to commemorate the 30th anniversary of their “Just Do It” campaign.
“Nike is a tenant of mine (in a building at 6 East 57th Street in New York). They pay a lot of rent.”
When discussing the matter further, Trump said he doesn’t like Nike’s decision, but also respects the company’s right to hire the spokesperson they choose.
“As much as I disagree with the Colin Kaepernick endorsement, in another way – I mean, I wouldn’t have done it,” Trump said.
“In another way, it is what this country is all about, that you have certain freedoms to do things that other people think you shouldn’t do, but I personally am on a different side of it.”
The latter comments toward Nike are a much different – and less confrontational – stance than the president has typically used when discussing or tweeting about NFL players protesting social injustice during the national anthem.
The NFL’s statement spoke more to the social issues that Kaepernick and other protesting players are trying to bring to the national forefront.
“The National Football League believes in dialogue, understanding and unity,” president of communications and public affairs Jocelyn Moore said in a statement. “We embrace the role and responsibility of everyone involved with this game to promote meaningful, positive change in our communities.
“The social justice issues that Colin and other professional athletes have raised deserve our attention and action.”
A Nike ad released on Monday featured a black-and-white close-up of Kaepernick’s face and the words, “Believe in something. Even it if it means sacrificing everything. Just do it.”
ESPN reported that Nike kept paying Kaepernick – who signed with the brand in 2011 – for two years despite not using him in ads in order to bring him back at the right time.
Meanwhile, clutching his young daughter in his arms, LeBron James said he stands with Nike, a clear reference to the company’s Colin Kaepernick ad campaign.
The basketball superstar – and new Los Angeles Laker – made the remarks as he received an award Tuesday for both his style and his philanthropy from Harlem’s Fashion Row.
The fashion collective partnered with Nike for the New York event, both a fashion show and an awards ceremony that focused on diversity in the fashion world.
The evening culminated in the reveal of the latest LeBron James Nike basketball shoe: a women’s sneaker designed by three female African-American designers and inspired by strong African-American women.
In emotional remarks, James paid tribute to the three women in his life – his mother, wife and three-year-old daughter Zhuri.
He noted how his mother had raised him alone, and given him “a sense of pride, a sense of strength, a sense of no worry”.
“Because of you, Gloria James, I’m able to be in a position today where I can give back and showcase why I believe African-American women are the most powerful women in the world.”
The NBA star, who was wearing one of his favoured shrunken-fit shorts suits by designer Thom Browne, called his daughter “my rock”.
“People always told me if you ever have a girl, she’ll change you,” said James, who also has two sons.
“I was like, ‘Nobody’s changing me, I’m a man’.”
But she did, he said.
“Not only did she change me, she’s made me a better person. A more dedicated person, a stronger person, I guess a more sensitive person.”
Closing his remarks, he said he stood “for anybody who believes in change.” He added: “I stand with Nike, all day, every day.”
Field Level Media, Reuters, AP