Los Angeles (AFP) - Cleveland Cavaliers superstar LeBron James blasted Donald Trump on Tuesday for making hate "fashionable again", saying individuals must combat racism and not look to the "so-called president".
James reacted swiftly after the US president reiterated his opinion that there was "blame on both sides" in the deadly racial unrest in Charlottesville at the weekend.
"Hate has always existed in America. Yes we know that but Donald Trump just made it fashionable again!" James tweeted shortly after Trump angrily defended his controversial initial response to the white supremacist rally on Saturday that erupted in clashes with counter-demonstrators.
Trump's reaction on Saturday, that there was violence "on many sides" provoked a backlash and on Monday he singled out the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazis involved as criminals.
But in an exchange with reporters at Trump Tower in New York on Tuesday, a clearly irked Trump again said that both groups were at fault in inciting violence.
James, who has long been outspoken about matters of race and social justice in America and endorsed Trump's opponent Hillary Clinton for president, had tweeted his dismay at the events in Charlottesville over the weekend.
"It's sad what's going on in Charlottesville," James tweeted on Saturday. "Is this the direction our country is heading?
"Make america Great Again huh?! He said that," added James in a dig at Trump's celebrated campaign slogan.
James, whose Los Angeles home was daubed with a racial slur on the eve of the NBA Finals in June, spoke out again on Tuesday night, at a LeBron James Family Foundation event in Sandusky, Ohio.
"I have this platform and I'm somebody that has a voice of command and the only way for us to get better as a society and for us to get better as people is love," he said. "And that's the only way we're going to be able to conquer something as one.
"It's not about the guy that's the so-called president of the United States, or whatever the case ... It's about us.
"It's about us looking in the mirror. Kids all the way up to the adults," James said. "All of us looking in the mirror and saying, 'What can we do better to help change?'"