Trump brands NBA ‘political organisation’ after shooting protests

Donald Trump has branded the NBA a “political organisation”, as protests intensified over the shooting of a black man by police in Wisconsin.

The US president weighed in after players and teams from the top tiers of basketball, baseball, soccer, and tennis refused to participate in games scheduled on Wednesday night.

Their actions follow the Milwaukee Bucks sitting out a top-flight basketball match earlier this week over the attack on Jacob Blake – a 29-year-old black man who did not appear to be carrying a weapon when he was shot in the back several times by a police officer in the city of Kenosha on Sunday.

Shooting
Video shows moments before shooting

The incident was captured in a graphic video filmed by a bystander across the street, leading to protests – some of which have erupted into rioting and looting.

It comes just months after the death of George Floyd, and at a time when the Black Lives Matter movement has continued to gain prominence across the US and around the world.

KENOSHA, WISCONSIN - AUGUST 24: A Black Lives Matter sign is held up as people gather in front of the police station the day after a Black man was shot by police causing outrage and local unrest in the city on August 24, 2020 in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Kenosha Police shot a Black man multiple times in the back yesterday night as he entered the driver's side door of a vehicle. The man reportedly identified as Jacob Blake, was hospitalized in Milwaukee in serious condition. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Image: Protests have sprung up in Wisconsin

NBA players and coaches met for nearly three hours earlier this week to discuss if the season can continue, as they continue not to play until politicians act to address police brutality.

The US basketball association had managed to make a successful comeback after the sport was suspended due to coronavirus back in March.

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Its first revamped games of the impeded 2019-20 season took place at the end of July, with the players and coaches having been kept in a bubble at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida.

While Mr Trump admitted he did not know much about the shooting of Mr Blake, he laid in to the basketball league teams’ actions.

Jacob Blake, a black man shot by police in Wisconsin. Pic: Ben Crump
Image: Jacob Blake remains in a critical condition in hospital

“They’ve become like a political organisation and that’s not a good thing,” he said on Thursday. “I don’t think that’s a good thing for sports or for the country.”

The president previously criticised NFL players for protesting over police brutality in the US, urging team owners to sack stars who took a knee – the movement started by Colin Kaepernick.

Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff, Marc Short, also called the recent demonstrations “absurd and silly”.

“If they want to protest, I don’t think we care,” he said.

He even accused the NBA of having “embraced the Communist Party” for not taking similar action over China‘s alleged human rights violations and imposing a new security law on Hong Kong.

LAKE BUENA VISTA, FLORIDA - AUGUST 26: The court and benches are empty after the scheduled start of game five between the Milwaukee Bucks and the Orlando Magic in the first round of the 2020 NBA Playoffs at AdventHealth Arena at ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex on August 26, 2020 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. According to reports, the Milwaukee Bucks have boycotted their game 5 playoff game against the Orlando Magic to protest the shooting of Jacob Blake by Kenosha, Wisconsin police. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ashley Landis-Pool/Getty Images)
Image: The Milwaukee Bucks refused to play a game earlier this week

White House senior adviser Jared Kushner added: “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.

“I do think that peaceful protest has a place and it has importance.

“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.”

A law enforcement officer holds a weapon as he stands in the hatch of an armored vehicle as people protest outside the Kenosha County Courthouse after a Black man, identified as Jacob Blake, was shot several times by police in Kenosha, Wisconsin, U.S. August 25, 2020. REUTERS/Stephen Maturen
Tension and tear gas at Wisconsin protests

LA Lakers star LeBron James, widely considered to be one of the greatest players in NBA history, tweeted: “Change doesn’t happen with just talk!!

“It happens with action and needs to happen NOW! … It’s on US to make a difference.”

James is backing the More Than A Vote campaign, which is encouraging Black Americans to register to vote ahead of the US presidential election on 3 November.

LeBron James call a play during the Lakers win over the Cavaliers
Image: LeBron James has spoken out over Mr Blake’s shooting

Democratic nominee Joe Biden has said the shots fired at Mr Blake “pierce the soul of the nation.”

Mr Blake is still fighting for his life – he is in a critical condition at hospital.

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