US President Donald Trump slammed the NBA on Thursday, accusing it of becoming “political” as players boycotted playoff games because of police shootings of Black men.
“I don’t know much about the NBA protest. I know their ratings have been very bad because I think people are a little tired of the NBA,” Trump told reporters while visiting FEMA headquarters as Hurricane Laura slams the US Gulf Coast.
“They’ve become like a political organization, and that’s not a good thing,” he added.
Trump has long been sharply critical of athletes who use their platforms to protest racial injustice, particularly those in the National Football League and Major League Baseball (MLB) who have taken a knee during the National Anthem.
His latest criticism come one day after the NBA called off three playoff games after the Milwaukee Bucks decided not to participate in the wake of the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin, starting a chain reaction of boycotts that spread through the league’s playoff teams, MLB, the WNBA and Major League Soccer.
Games scheduled Thursday have been postponed with the NBA saying it hopes to hold them Friday or Saturday. A video conference between players and executives is expected later Thursday, Executive Vice President Mike Bass said in a statement.
Bystander footage of Blake’s shooting has made Kenosha the latest flashpoint in the US’s ongoing struggle with racial injustice.
A video that has circulated widely on social media shows Blake, 29, walking away from police as they attempt to apprehend him with guns drawn. They opened fire after Blake opened the driver’s side door of an SUV and began to enter the vehicle’s driver side door with his back facing two officers.
Blake remains at a hospital where he is being treated. His family and attorneys said he is paralyzed from the waist down and it is highly unlikely he will ever walk again.
The Wisconsin Department of Justice said Wednesday that Blake told investigators he was in possession of a knife when he was shot.
The department’s investigators “recovered a knife from the driver’s side floorboard of Mr. Blake’s vehicle,” it said in a statement that noted no other weapons were found.