WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump says the NBA has become like "a political organization" as he criticized the league the day after player protests over police brutality led to the postponement of three scheduled playoff games.
Trump made the comments after senior aides said the protests weren't constructive and were hypocritical considering the league's relative silence about human rights violations in China, where U.S. pro basketball has a large audience.
CNN's Alisyn Camerota asked Mike Pence's Chief of Staff Marc Short if the vice president supports the boycott.
Short dodged the question and criticized the NBA's ties to China instead.
"Look, I don't know that you can see the administration way on that one way or the other in my mind, it's, it's, it's absurd and silly.," Short said. "What you saw from the professional basketball association was a continued, um, acceptance, and non-denial or non-speaking out against China's continued abuse. Instead, wrap their arms around their cooperation with China. They're continuing to allow NBA players to continue to support China. When they've continued to repress people continue to persecute people for speaking on their minds. And yet they're going to protest. Now if they want to protest, I don't think we care. I think at this point, um, there's, there's uh, if they want to say we're not going to play more games, I don't think that's the position that you're going to see us speak out on one way or the other."
In an interview with CNBC, Jared Kushner, Trump's son-in-law, said players who refused to play were lucky and rich enough to "take a night off from work.”
Kushner told Politico Thursday that he'd reach out to Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James.
The WNBA, Major League Soccer, National Hockey League, and Major League Baseball also postponed games in the wake of Blake's shooting.
The president earlier this month in a radio interview called NBA players "very nasty" and "very dumb" for kneeling during the national anthem to protest social injustice.