Pence aide calls NBA Players boycott: “Silly,” “absurd”

(CNN’s Alisyn Camerota and Marc Short)

Players across the NBA have been adamant that more needs to be done to effect social change after the recent police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin. 

It began when The Milwaukee Bucks did not take the floor before the start of Game 5 against the Orlando Magic on Wednesday, an action they later stated was due to the police shooting of Blake, subsequent civilian shootings of protestors and the lack of legal response to those and other national occurrences of social injustice that preceded them.

On Wednesday afternoon, the NBA announced that the three games scheduled for Aug. 26 — Bucks vs. Magic, Rockets vs. Thunder and the Los Angeles Lakers vs. Portland Trail Blazers — were postponed. Each of those Game 5s will be rescheduled, per the NBA.

Within hours, three WNBA, five Major League Soccer and three Major League Baseball games were called off as athletes acted in solidarity with the Bucks’ players.

White House Officials React

On Thursday morning, two top White House officials dismissed the significance of the players’ decisions to protest. While appearing on CNN’s New Day, Chief of Staff to Vice President Mike Pence, Marc Short was asked by Alisyn Camerota if Pence supports the boycott.

Short replied, “I don’t know that you’re going to see the administration weigh in on that one way or the other. In my mind, it’s absurd, it’s silly.”He went on to criticize the NBA for its ties to China, and said he believed the administration shouldn’t speak out on the boycott “one way or the other.” “If they want to protest, I don’t think we care,” he said.

Jared KushnerPresident Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, also downplayed the boycott, saying the league needs to turn slogans and signals to “actual action that’s going to solve the problem.”

“I think that 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,” he said during an interview with CNBC.

“So they have that luxury, which is great. Look, I think with the NBA there’s a lot of activism and I think that they have put a lot of slogans out, but I think what we need to do is turn that from slogans and signals to actual action that’s going to solve the problem.”

Kushner told Politico Thursday morning he will reach out to NBA superstar LeBron James, one of the most outspoken players in league about social justice. He said the White House is “happy to talk with him and say, ‘Look, let’s both agree on what we want to accomplish and let’s come up with a common path to get there.’ ”

During his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention Wednesday night, Pence condemned the violence in Kenosha and other cities, largely ignoring the concerns people of color have expressed about police violence while he defended law enforcement.

“President Donald Trump and I will always support the right of Americans to peaceful protest, but rioting and looting is not peaceful protest, tearing down statues is not free speech. Those who do so will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” Pence said at Fort. McHenry in Baltimore. “

ALSO READ: Thousands march for All Black Lives Matters in LA

Nike Releases Statement in Support of Players

Nike, who has been addressing social injustice and support for Black Lives Matter all year, issued this statement:

“Nike stands in support of NBA and WNBA players and athletes across the sports community in their response to the senseless shooting of Jacob Blake. We remain committed to addressing the issue of systemic racism experienced by the Black community.”

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According to ESPN, the season will continue. Players decided not to boycott the remainder of the playoffs on Thursday morning, reported. Thursday’s games are still expected to be postponed,