Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Trump criticized the NBA's ties to China during a Fox Sports Radio interview on Tuesday, saying, "The way they catered to China, the way they bowed to China, is a disgrace."

Why it matters: China is one of the biggest international markets for the NBA, and its attempts to balance those business interests alongside criticism of the Chinese Communist Party's human rights abuses has been a flashpoint for the league in recent months.

  • Players this season were permitted to wear social justice messages on their jerseys, including "Black Lives Matter," but messaging about China was strictly prohibited, drawing a rebuke from Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.).

The big picture: Trump also again criticized NBA players kneeling for the national anthem in protest of racial inequality, calling them "very, very nasty and, frankly, very dumb."

  • The president called NBA players "disgraceful" last week for kneeling during the anthem.
  • NBA star LeBron James responded: "I can sit here and speak for all of us that love the game of basketball, we could care less."
  • Trump also had harsh words for the NFL's anthem protests: "If they don't stand for the national anthem, I hope they don't open."

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Ben Geman, author of Generate
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Well that, as Ron Burgundy would say, escalated quickly. China's foreign ministry is accusing the Trump administration of "major retrogression" on climate and being an environmental "troublemaker."

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