Donald And Melania Trump Seemed To Have Vastly Different Opinions Of LeBron James

Former President Donald Trump's outspoken online presence and former first lady Melania Trump's notably reticent public rapport have looped this ex-presidential duo into a sort of "good cop, bad cop" dynamic that was once directed at basketball star LeBron James. Indeed, Melania's support of the NBA legend in 2018 seemed to be a small glimpse into the future wherein Melania would distance herself from her husband after Trump's 2020 election loss.

The former president shared his disdain for James following the basketball player's interview with CNN's Don Lemon in 2018, during which James criticized Trump. Trump responded on X, formerly known as Twitter, writing: "Lebron James was just interviewed by the dumbest man on television, Don Lemon. He made Lebron look smart, which isn't easy to do." Melania, however, had a far less scathing opinion of the professional athlete.

One day after Trump's tweet about James, Melania's spokeswoman, Stephanie Grisham, released a statement that commended James for "working to do good things on behalf of our next generation" (via CBS News). The statement even suggested Melania would be willing to visit James' "I Promise" school, which was the reason for his CNN interview in the first place.

Melania Trump diluted her husband's remarks by sharing her support for LeBron James

Basketball player and devoted philanthropist LeBron James' 2018 interview with CNN's Don Lemon was meant to highlight the opening of the "I Promise" school in his hometown of Akron, Ohio. The school was founded to assist at-risk students by offering free tuition, uniforms, meals, transportation, a bicycle and helmet, access to a food pantry, and guaranteed tuition to the University of Akron. Donald Trump's tweets referred to a small part of the conversation wherein the basketball player accused the former president of using sports as a conduit for further political division. 

Melania Trump, on the other hand, opted to focus on how James' endeavors aligned with her Be Best initiative, which was founded to "provide children with the tools and skills required for emotional, social, and physical health," per the White House Archives. Her statement through spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham reiterated the former first lady's goal of facilitating conversations around issues children face, like online bullying, drug use, and poor well-being. 

"As you know, Mrs. Trump has traveled the country and world talking to children about their well-being, healthy living, and the importance of responsible online behavior with her Be Best initiative," the statement read. "Her platform centers around visiting organizations, hospitals, and schools, and she would be open to visiting the I Promise School in Akron."

Professional athletes aren't the only things the Trumps have butted heads about

Though Melania Trump's remarks about LeBron James would come two years before her husband, Donald Trump, lost his bid for re-election in 2020, their vast difference in opinion seemed to foreshadow the other ways the Trumps would later diverge. Melania has spent most of her post-White House days out of the public eye at the Trumps' Mar-a-Lago estate while her only son, Barron Trump, finishes his schooling. 

Moreover, some inside sources claim that Melania has been trying to sway her husband's long-held belief that he had won the 2020 presidential election. "Virtually everyone in his inner circle, his closest advisers, including his family members, are fully aware that this is over," ABC News chief White House correspondent Jonathan Karl said on "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" in 2020 (via X). "There have been conversations, conversations that I am told include the first lady about how to convince him to make a graceful exit." 

Other inside sources claim that Donald Trump's ongoing legal woes have affected his marriage to Melania as well. And the former first lady isn't the only member of the Trump family looking to add a bit of space between themselves and their patriarch. Ivanka Trump has also been distancing herself from her dad since he left the White House, suggesting that the former president's volatile beliefs might not be shared amongst his family, be they about "stolen" elections or famous basketball players.