NBA Legend Bill Russell Tweets Photo of Him Kneeling After Trump Cancels Eagles' White House Visit

The legendary Boston Celtic has spoken out after President Trump withdrew the Eagles' invitation to the White House

Photo: Bill Russell/Twitter

Bill Russell, the legendary Boston Celtics player, is symbolically speaking out after President Donald Trump withdrew the Philadelphia Eagles’ invitation to the White House this week.

On Monday, the president announced he was calling off the Eagles’ visit to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave to celebrate their Super Bowl LII win after several players said they would not attend following Trump’s controversial comments aimed at players who choose to kneel during the national anthem.

“The Philadelphia Eagles Football Team was invited to the White House. Unfortunately, only a small number of players decided to come, and we canceled the event,” Trump posted on Twitter. “Staying in the Locker Room for the playing of our National Anthem is as disrespectful to our country as kneeling. Sorry!”

Trump instead set up an alternative event to “celebrate America” at the White House in lieu of the team’s visit, where he seemingly flubbed the words to “God Bless America” in front of cameras.

Russell, who has been an outspoken critic of Trump in the past, took to Twitter on Wednesday to say the Eagles should actually be happy they were uninvited. He also attempted to clarify the original intent of the NFL’s kneeling protests — to raise awareness for social injustice, and not as a form of disrespect to the nation or the military, a narrative that Trump has repeatedly, loudly spun.

“The best thing that happened to @Eagles since winning the #superbowl is @realDonaldTrump uninviting them to the #WhiteHouse,” Russell, 84, tweeted to his 61,000 followers. “Not 1 #Eagles player took a knee. It’s about social injustice period!”

Along with his message, Russell included a picture of him kneeling while wearing his Presidential Medal of Freedom, which is the highest civilian honor a U.S. citizen can be awarded. Russell — who won multiple championships with the Celtics and later became the first African-American to coach a major professional sports team — was given the medal by President Barack Obama in 2011.

Once footage came out of Trump seemingly messing up the words of “God Bless America” during his event at the White House, Russell tweeted once more.

“[Donald Trump] wages war on NFL players for being unpatriotic & disrespectful to flag & country when he himself (The President) does not know the words to our national anthem,” Russell wrote, erroneously referring to “God Bless America” as the national anthem. “That is disrespectful. Its about injustice!”

Others noted on Twitter that at least one person who attended the event at the White House Tuesday chose to take a knee during the national anthem.

Many athletes have criticized Trump in the days following his announcement, including LeBron James and Stephen Curry, who are currently facing off for the NBA championship.

“It’s typical of him,” James said of Trump on Tuesday during a press conference. “I’m not surprised. I mean, no matter who wins this series, no one wants the invite anyway.”

James said that neither his Cleveland Cavaliers nor Curry’s Golden State Warriors would be going to the White House after the series is over.

In response, Curry agreed, saying the Warriors would skip a White House visit if they win the championship, just as they did in 2017.

“I’m pretty sure the way we handled things last year,” Curry told reporters. “We’ll stay consistent with that.”

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