BULLETIN ... A Trump tweet this morning slaps one of the NBA's most popular players, after the Golden State Warriors' superstar said he doesn't want to go to the White House to celebrate the Oakland team's latest championship: "Going to the White House is considered a great honor for a championship team. Stephen Curry is hesitating,therefore invitation is withdrawn!"
Commentators predicted a new wave of protests by athletes during the national anthem after President Trump used coarse language to tell a rally audience in Huntsville, Ala., last night that NFL players who take a knee should be fired.
The out-of-nowhere riff, which trigged an instant online backlash in support of athletes like Colin Kaepernick, was part of a 1 hour, 20 minute ramble by Trump. He was speaking in support of Sen. Luther Strange (R-Ala.), who's threatened by Breitbart-backed candidate, Roy Moore, in Tuesday's primary.
Why it matters: In appealing to a Deep South audience, Trump waded into culturally sensitive territory that could freshen opposition elsewhere, and ignite a debate wholly unrelated to anything he's trying to accomplish.
The reaction ... USA Today columnist Christine Brennan, on CNN: "I think we're going to see, potentially more NFL players taking a knee this weekend than we ever would have thought ... maybe even college players, too."
Trump also repeated a theme from a past rally in the South, about an NFL that's more aware of the danger of concussions:
Be smart: Trump's NFL comments were generationally based, with the president inviting portrayals as a 71-year-old unfamiliar with the latest medical research, rather than a leader in touch with the concerns of rising generations of doctors, athletes and fans.
Flashback ... Trump at a campaign rally in Lakeland, Fla., in October: "See, we don't go by these new and very much softer NFL rules. Concussion? Oh! Oh! Got a little ding on the head — no, no, you can't play for the rest of the season. Our people are tough!"
Trump last night referred to "Crooked Hillary" while talking about gun control, prompting the signature chant of his 2016 rallies: "Lock her up."
P.S. "Staff chafes at Kelly's style," by Ashley Parker and Phil Rucker on WashPost A1: "[S]ome staffers complain that [the White House chief of staff] may be growing his mandate too far and that his [militaristic style] stifles the creativity and spontaneity that have been hallmarks of Trump's enterprises."
Trump last night referred to the North Korean leader as "Little Rocket Man" — adding a modifier to his earlier nickname, and further personalizing the verbal combat.
It's a sign of how much the conversation between the leaders has degenerated. The most interesting story in the papers today is the lead of the L.A. Times, "Aides urged Trump not to ridicule Kim," by Brian Bennett:
Why it matters, from Brian's story: "Some advisors now worry that the escalating war of words has pushed the impasse with North Korea into a new and dangerous phase that threatens to derail the months-long effort to squeeze Pyongyang's economy through sanctions to force Kim to the negotiating table."
N.Y. Times Quote of the Day ... Paik Hak-soon, longtime North Korea analyst at the Sejong Institute, a think tank outside Seoul: "The way North Korea's supreme leadership works, Kim Jong-un has to respond more assertively as its enemy gets more confrontational, like Trump has. There is no backing down in the North Korean rule book."
Rohingya Muslims, who travelled from Myanmar into Bangladesh, grasp for food being distributed by aid agencies near the Balukhali refugee camp in Bangladesh this week.
Although the opposition from Sen. John McCain likely killed Republicans' latest health-overhaul plan, President Trump tweeted this morning that there's still hope: "I know Rand Paul and I think he may find a way to get there for the good of the Party!"
The most important sentence in McCain's statement is: "I believe we could do better working together, Republicans and Democrats, and have not yet really tried."
Why did Senate Republicans decide to die on this hill again? The best explanation may come from the N.Y. Times' Carl Hulse:
Be smart: The vote that counted most may have been Jimmy Kimmel's. The ABC late-night host's passionate, detailed opposition — with fact checkers calling him correct about potentially unaffordable premiums for people in poor health — put Republicans in a hole they were ill-equipped to dig out of.
"Gene Therapy Is Nearing a Major Breakthrough: Therapies that replace faulty genes with healthy ones to cure deadly diseases are generating exciting lab results. How to invest in a hot sector," by Barron's Andrew Barry:
P.S. "Dow 1,000,000: Warren Buffett predicts that the benchmark will hit that number by 2117." (It closed yesterday at 22,000.) Free link for Axios readers.
"CBS' bold digital push: Pilot of 'Star Trek: Discovery' will air on TV. After that, it will be seen only on All Access," by L.A. Times' Meg James, on A1: