Trump calls NBA ‘political organization’ after playoff protest
President Donald Trump disparaged the National Basketball Association on Thursday after professional basketball players sat out playoff games in protest over police shootings and racial inequality.
“People are tired of the NBA,” Trump said during a visit to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. “They’ve become like a political organization and that’s not a good thing. I don’t think that’s a good thing for sports or for the country.”
Trump made the remarks just hours before he’s scheduled to accept the Republican nomination for his re-election. But hanging over the festivities is the unrest in Kenosha, Wisconsin, where a Black man, Jacob Blake, was repeatedly shot in the back by police earlier this week.
Professional basketball and baseball players refused to play on Wednesday over the episode, and two people were killed in a Black Lives Matter protest over the Blake shooting. An Illinois teenager whose social media accounts carried pro-Trump and pro-police imagery was arrested in that crime.
After skipping Wednesday’s games, players voted to continue the remainder of the playoffs, ESPN reported. Three games will still be postponed Thursday and others are expected to resume Friday, according to The Athletic.
The Republican convention has featured Black people, mostly men, who have served as character witnesses for Trump. They have rebutted the president’s critics who call him a racist for his repeated attacks on anti-police brutality protests, defense of the Confederate flag, and other statements.
Hurts My Soul
“It hurts my soul to hear the terrible names that people call Donald. The worst one is racist.’ I take it as a personal insult that people would think I would have a 37-year friendship with a racist,” former National Football League player Herschel Walker said Monday night.
But the Trump team’s response to the NBA walk-out is sure to fan racial tensions. Earlier Thursday, Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner said NBA players who postponed games to protest racial injustice in police shootings have the “luxury” to take a night off.
“The NBA players are very fortunate that they have the financial position where they’re able to take a night off from work without having to have the consequences to themselves financially,” Kushner, who is a senior adviser in the White House, said in an interview with CNBC. “So they have that luxury, which is great.”
Shortly after his CNBC interview, Kushner elaborated on his remarks in an interview with Politico, saying he would like to see players, “start moving into concrete solutions that are productive.”
Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff, Marc Short, called the NBA walk-out “absurd” and “silly.”
“If they want to protest, I don’t think we care,” Short said on CNN.
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden defended players from the NBA, and Women’s National Basketball Association, who sat out games. Biden told CNN: “A lot of these men and women have had brothers, sisters, husbands, wives who have been victimized just because of their color.”
“They don’t need any more attention,” Biden said. “They are sick and tired.”