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Update on the latest in sports:

September 25, 2017

TRUMP-NFL

Trump: It’s not about race

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump says his criticism of football players who kneel during the national anthem “has nothing to do with race.”

The president says on Twitter on Monday that the issue is “about respect for our Country, Flag and National Anthem. NFL must respect this!”

The president tweeted that many people “booed the players who kneeled yesterday (which was a small percentage of total). These are fans who demand respect for our Flag!”

He also points with pride to NASCAR supporters, writing, “They won’t put up with disrespecting our Country or our Flag - they said it loud and clear!”

About football 200 players decided to stand, kneel or raise their fists during the national anthem at NFL games on Sunday in response to Trump’s calls for players to be fired.

NFL-TRUMP

NFL spokesman fires back

NEW YORK (AP) — NFL spokesman Joe Lockhart is firing back at President Donald Trump for attacking players who kneel during the national anthem. He says their protests against racial inequality and police brutality are “real locker room talk.”

It was an apparent reference to Trump being caught on tape talking with “Access Hollywood” host Billy Bush about kissing, groping and trying to have sex with women. Trump later dismissed his remarks made in the 2005 video, which emerged a month before the November election, as “locker room talk.”

Many NFL players on Sunday locked arms with their teammates — some standing, others kneeling — in a show of solidarity. “Everyone should know, including the president, this is what real locker room talk is,” Lockhart said Monday during a conference call.

He said: “We don’t seek to get into political debates or relish being in the middle of it, but extraordinary statements from our clubs and owners demonstrate just how deeply we believe in our players and in our game.”

BRADY-TRUMP

Brady criticizes Trump comments

BOSTON (AP) — New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is at odds with President Donald Trump on the issue of player protests of the national anthem, calling Trump’s comments “just divisive.”

Brady tells Boston’s WEEI-FM that he “certainly” disagrees with Trump’s comment that NFL owners should fire any player who refuses to stand for the anthem.

Patriots locked arms with some teammates during the “Star-Spangled Banner” Sunday against the Texans while other players kneeled.

Brady has called Trump a “good friend” in the past and one of Trump’s “Make America Great Again” hats was spotted in Brady’s locker in 2015. Trump has often praised the quarterback on social media.

Brady skipped a White House visit with Trump in April when the team celebrated its fifth Super Bowl title.

LEBRON-TRUMP

James won’t take back ‘bum’ comment

CLEVELAND (AP) — NBA-All-Star LeBron James isn’t taking back calling President Donald Trump “a bum.”

James referred to Trump as “U bum” in a tweet on Saturday after the president pulled back an invitation to the Golden State Warriors to visit the White House. James said at a free-wheeling news conference on Monday that Trump doesn’t understand how many kids are looking up to the president of the United States for guidance, leadership and words of encouragement.

James said, “That’s what makes me more sick than anything.”

He referred to Trump as “that guy” in remarks at the Cleveland Cavaliers’ media day, and said the president “doesn’t understand the power that he has for being the leader of this beautiful country.”

TRUMP-SPORTS-VETERANS

Vets groups criticize player protests

WASHINGTON (AP) — The leaders of the nation’s two biggest veterans’ groups are criticizing NFL player protests during the national anthem.

American Legion National Commander Denise Rohan chided what she called the politicization of sports events. She says the playing of the national anthem should be a time of unity, and that professional athletes who fail to show respect are “misguided and ungrateful.”

Keith Harman, the national commander of Veterans of Foreign Wars, says the player protests don’t “wash with millions of military veterans who have and continue to wear real uniforms on real battlefields around the globe.”

Their statements come after President Donald Trump attacked NFL players who kneel during the national anthem.

The American Legion and VFW together represent nearly four million military veterans.

TRUMP-GRIZZLIES

Memphis coach says he’ll take a knee

MEMPHIS (AP) — Memphis coach David Fizdale says yes, he’ll absolutely take a knee if his Grizzlies decide to protest. The NBA coach in the city where Martin Luther King Jr. was shot also says anyone who thinks such protests disrespect the military should simply go through President Donald Trump’s tweets.

Fizdale noted Trump’s tweets about Sen. John McCain, transgender troops and the military, and criticism of a Gold Star family. Fizdale says Trump is putting American troops based in South Korea and Japan in danger by risking “instigating a war” with North Korea.

The Grizzlies coach says people need to take a look at who’s really disrespecting the military and who’s honoring the military by exercising their rights.

LEBRON-CAVALIERS

James says he still plans to finish career with Cleveland

CLEVELAND (AP) — LeBron James says his intentions to finish his career with Cleveland haven’t changed.

The three-time NBA champion, who previously left the Cavaliers as a free agent for Miami, said Monday that he will not make a decision about his future until next summer.

The 32-year-old has a player’s option for next season worth $35.6 million.

There have been reports swirling around for months about James planning to play for the Los Angeles Lakers next season.

MLB

Yankees-Judge

NEW YORK (AP) — Aaron Judge has broken Mark McGwire’s major league record for home runs by a rookie, going deep twice on Monday to raise his total to 50.

The Yankees slugger hit a two-run drive to right-center off Kansas City’s Jakob Junis in the third inning to tie the mark. He added a solo shot over the visitors’ bullpen in left in the seventh inning against Trevor Cahill.

Judge has 13 home runs in September and six in five games. He hit two home runs for the second straight day and has four multihomer games this month.

McGwire hit 49 homers for Oakland in 1987, breaking the previous mark of 38 set by the Boston Braves’ Wally Berger in 1930 and matched by Cincinnati’s Frank Robinson in 1956.

Judge is second in the major leagues behind Miami’s Giancarlo Stanton, who has hit 57.

In other MLB news:

— Nationals slugger Bryce Harper could come off the disabled list and return to the lineup in Philadelphia.

Harper, the 2015 NL MVP, has been out with a bone bruise in his left knee since slipping on a wet base while running out a grounder Aug. 12.

Washington has already clinched the NL East title and home-field advantage in a best-of-five Division Series that will begin Oct. 6. But there’s only a week left in the regular season for Harper to test his knee and get comfortable at the plate before the playoffs start.

— Fenway Park can start preparing for a potential celebration. Boston returns home from an 8-1 road trip with a magic number of three to clinch its second consecutive AL East crown, a feat the team has never accomplished. Mookie Betts and the Red Sox finish the regular season with three games against last-place Toronto and four vs. Houston in a possible postseason preview. Drew Pomeranz (16-5) gets a playoff tuneup against the Blue Jays. The left-hander is 7-1 with a 2.62 ERA in 13 starts since the All-Star break.

— The Cubs and Cardinals begin a significant series in St. Louis. Chicago can clinch a tie for the NL Central title by winning the opener, but perhaps more important, it would like to get Jon Lester on track before the playoffs. Lester (11-8, 4.56 ERA) gave up seven runs to Tampa Bay in his last outing and has a 5.91 ERA in four September starts. The Cardinals are 2 1/2 games behind Colorado for the second NL wild card, and rookie Luke Weaver is a big reason why they’ve stayed close. Weaver (7-1, 2.05) has won seven straight starts, including five against division rivals.

— The Astros can eliminate the rival Rangers from playoff contention during a series at Texas this week. The Rangers trail Minnesota by 5 1/2 games for the second AL wild card with just seven left. Collin McHugh (3-2, 3.44 ERA) starts the opener for Houston — he looked good last time out in his first start since tearing a fingernail on his pitching hand. Andrew Cashner (10-10, 3.44) is set to pitch for the Rangers.

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