“They’ve become like a political organization, and that’s not a good thing,” Trump said during a briefing Thursday. “I don’t think that’s a good thing for sports or for the country.”
Trump told reporters he was unfamiliar with the players who had chosen not to play, but simultaneously took a jab at the NBA’s viewership ratings.
“I don’t know much about the NBA. I know their ratings are bad because I think people are tired of the NBA,” Trump said. “I know their ratings have been bad. That’s unfortunate.”
The Milwaukee Bucks, Houston Rockets, Oklahoma City Thunder, Los Angeles Lakers and Portland Trail Blazers chose not to play in Wednesday night’s playoff games after Jacob Blake, a Black man, was shot seven times in the back by a police officer in Kenosha, Wis.
The shooting, which occurred Sunday as Blake was opening his car door, his three sons in the back seat, has sparked more protests over police brutality and Black rights — following months of demonstrations and riots after the death of George Floyd, a black man who died while in police custody in May.
“F— THIS MAN!!!! WE DEMAND CHANGE. SICK OF IT,” Lebron James, a Los Angeles Laker, tweeted after the postponement of the game between the Lakers and Portland Blazers was announced.
The Milwaukee Bucks were the first to announce their game postponement earlier this week.
“Some things are bigger than basketball,” senior vice president to the Bucks, Alex Lasry, tweeted Wednesday. “The stand taken today by the players and [the organization] shows that we’re fed up. Enough is enough. Change needs to happen. I’m incredibly proud of our guys and we stand 100% behind our players ready to assist and bring about real change.”
The GOP has been quick to condemn the actions of the NBA players.
Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff, Marc Short, called the NBA protests “absurd and silly,” during an interview with CNN’s “New Day.”
“If they want to protest, I don’t think we care,” Short added.
“Look, I do think that peaceful protest has a place and it has importance,” White House senior adviser Jared Kushner said during a Thursday event with Politico. “But I do think that what we need to do right now is make sure that we take the anger that people have and we have to move from slogans to constructive solutions.”
Kushner also said he thought that NBA players were “very fortunate” to be in a financial position to “take a night off from work.”
The president’s son-in-law added that he intends to reach out to James, who has been outspoken about policy brutality against Blacks.
“NBA playoff games for today will not be played as scheduled,” NBA Executive Vice President Mike Bass said in a statement Thursday. “We are hopeful to resume games either Friday or Saturday.”