Former basketball great Kobe Bryant said on Saturday he would stand up for his beliefs and refuse a White House invitation if one came.
The comments come after President Donald Trump triggered a backlash across the US after branding NFL players “sons of bitches” for protesting the national anthem.
The 39-year-old former LA Lakers player Bryant was asked in Paris where he was opening a sports venue if he would accept an invitation from Trump, and he said no.
“I wouldn’t go. It’s simple,” Bryant said. The US President withdrew a White House invitation to NBA champion Stephen Curry two weeks ago and several sports stars have rallied behind Curry.
“It’s a whole matter of respect and standing up on what you believe in. You can agree or disagree and that’s completely fine,” said Bryant.
“That’s the beauty of this country (the US), it’s being able to speak up for what you believe right?
“It’s being able to voice that opinion, you can agree with it, you can disagree with it, but I certainly respect your opinion and I believe all thoughts should be valued. “So I wouldn’t go.”
Protests began last year when NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick refused to stand for the American national anthem to protest racial injustice and police brutality.