WASHINGTON — Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff, Marc Short, said Thursday that NBA protests over the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin, are « absurd and silly, » while White House senior adviser Jared Kushner told CNBC that the players were « very fortunate » to be in a financial position to « take a night off from work. »
The comments came the day after the NBA postponed three scheduled playoff games, prompted by the Milwaukee Bucks’ decision not to take the floor for a game against the Orlando Magic. The players are demanding that lawmakers act to address police brutality and racial injustice.
In a separate appearance before an event hosted by Politico, Kushner said that he planned to reach out to Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James, an outspoken advocate for policing changes.
« Look, I do think that peaceful protest has a place and it has importance, » Kushner said. « 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. »
Players and teams from MLB, the WNBA, MLS and pro tennis sat out events Wednesday night, and NBA players and coaches met for nearly three hours to determine the next steps, including whether the season should continue.
« 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 said on CNBC.
President Donald Trump, who was to deliver his renomination acceptance speech Thursday evening at a scaled-back Republican National Convention, has made restoring « law and order » to cities a centerpiece of his campaign during a summer of sometimes violent protests following the death of George Floyd, a Black man whose killing by Minneapolis police in late May spurred national unrest.
« I don’t know that you are going to see the administration weigh in one way or the other. In my mind it’s absurd and silly, » Short said.
Short also took aim at the NBA’s relative silence over human rights abuses in China, a key market for the league. The NBA last month 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 were not provided proper schooling.
The league and its players have been outspoken in calls for reforms in the aftermath of the killing of Floyd. The NBA has incorporated its support for the Black Lives Matter movement onto player uniforms and through advertising. Trump has called that movement « a symbol of hate. »
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