Trump rips NBA, calls it ‘political organization’
President Trump on Thursday derisively referred to the NBA as a “political organization” after players have been outspoken on social justice issues and skipped playoff games in protest of the police shooting of Jacob Blake.
“They’ve become like a political organization, and that’s not a good thing,” Trump told reporters during a briefing on Hurricane Laura. “I don’t think that’s a good thing for sports or for the country.”
Trump said he wasn’t familiar with players choosing not to play on Wednesday in response to the Blake shooting, but took a swipe at the league’s decline in television ratings.
The NBA has taken center stage over the last 24 hours over its response to a Kenosha, Wis., police officer shooting Blake, a Black man, seven times in the back. The incident has spurred unrest in the city, with demonstrations growing violent at times. Police arrested a 17-year-old who allegedly shot and killed two protesters late Tuesday.
The Milwaukee Bucks first decided not to play their playoff game against the Orlando Magic on Wednesday, and the NBA afterward postponed its remaining games for the day.
“F— THIS MAN!!!! WE DEMAND CHANGE. SICK OF IT,” Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James tweeted following the Bucks’ decision.
The NBA’s decision rippled across other sports leagues, with WNBA, MLB and MLS teams also sitting out games.
“NBA playoff games for today will not be played as scheduled. We are hopeful to resume games either Friday or Saturday,” NBA Executive Vice President Mike Bass said in a statement on Thursday.
The president joined a host of other administration officials who have mocked or criticized NBA players for protesting the Blake shooting by electing not to play.
Marc Short, the vice president’s chief of staff, said he felt the protests were “absurd and silly,” accusing the league of being hypocritical for not standing up to China.
Senior White House adviser Jared Kushner, who is the president’s son-in-law, said NBA players were “fortunate” to have enough wealth to “take a night off from work” while saying he wants “actual action” in the racial justice movement.
Kushner said he planned to reach out to James.
NBA players have been among the most outspoken athletes for social justice during the Trump administration. James has started a school in his native Akron and worked on programs to combat voter suppression. The coaches of the Golden State Warriors and San Antonio Spurs have been vocal Trump critics, and no NBA championship team has visited the White House.
Trump has similarly feuded with NFL players who have knelt during the national anthem to protest social injustice, and he recently complained about baseball players who did the same.
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