The NBA has become a “political organization”
WASHINGTON (AP) – President Donald Trump said on Thursday that the NBA has become like “a political organization,” criticizing the league the day after player protests over police brutality that led to postponement of playoff games.
Senior White House officials had suggested earlier that the protests were not constructive and hypocritical given the league’s relative silence on human rights abuses in China, where U.S. professional basketball has a large audience. The president said in a radio interview this month that NBA players were “very mean” and “very stupid” for kneeling down during the national anthem to protest social injustice.
The Milwaukee Bucks launched the boycott on Wednesday by refusing to leave their locker room for the game against the Orlando Magic. The players demand that lawmakers act to combat police brutality and racial injustice. The NBA announced that the playoffs scheduled for Thursday were postponed, but the league hoped to resume play on Friday or Saturday.
âThey’ve become like a political organization, and that’s not a good thing,â Trump told reporters Thursday, noting that the league’s ratings were down from previous seasons. “I don’t think it’s a good thing for the sport or for the country.”
Trump, who was due to deliver his re-appointment acceptance speech Thursday night at a scaled-down Republican national convention, has made restoring “law and order” to cities a centerpiece of his campaign over the summer and sometimes violent protests after the death of George Floyd, a black man whose murder by Minneapolis police in late May sparked national unrest.
Earlier Thursday, Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff said in an interview with CNN that the NBA protests sparked by police gunfire against Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin, are “absurd and stupid.” in relation to their response to human rights violations in China. .
Last month, the NBA faced scathing criticism from Republicans after an ESPN report that young participants in a league program in China were physically beaten by Chinese instructors and did not receive appropriate education.
Short also asked why the league’s players and coaches have largely refrained from criticizing human rights violations in China and from expressing support for Hong Kong. In a separate interview on MSNBC Thursday, Short said the NBA “has embraced the Communist Party.”
âThere is a contrast to the positions they have taken,â said Short.
The league and its players have been forthright in their calls for reform in the wake of Floyd’s murder. The NBA has even incorporated its support for the Black Lives Matter movement into player uniforms and advertising. Trump called the move a “symbol of hate.”
“NBA players are very fortunate to have the financial situation that allows them to take a night off without having to suffer the financial consequences,” White House senior adviser Jared Kushner told CNBC on Thursday. .
In a separate appearance ahead of a Politico event, Kushner said he plans to contact Los Angles Lakers star LeBron James, a strong advocate for police changes.
âLook, I think peaceful protests have their place and they matter,â Kushner said. “But I think what we need to do now is make sure that we take people’s anger and that we have to move from slogans to constructive solutions.”
Senator Tom Cotton, a Trump ally, told Fox News that the reaction of NBA players to the Kenosha incident was “premature.”
“We shouldn’t jump to conclusions until we have all the facts,” Cotton told R-Ark.
Not everyone in Trump’s entourage has criticized the decision of the NBA players. The Magic, which is owned by the family of Trump’s Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, released a statement saying it is united with the players and the league to “condemn bigotry, racial injustice and recourse unwarranted violence by the police against people of color “.