Marc Short, Jared Kushner dismiss significance of NBA boycotts

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Asked by CNN’s Alisyn Camerota on “New Day” if Pence supports the boycott, Marc Short, the chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence, said, “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 Kushner, President 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.”

Blake was shot in the back by police on Sunday as he tried to enter his vehicle in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and according to family attorneys is paralyzed from the waist down. His shooting is the latest incident to spark outrage over racial injustice and police brutality and has reignited feelings of hurt and anger for Black Americans reeling from recent killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Rayshard Brooks.

What began as the Milwaukee Bucks’ decision on Wednesday to boycott their playoff game following the police shooting of Jacob Blake in the team’s home state cascaded into a wave of similar protests across the American sports scene by Wednesday night. The NBA soon announced it would postpone Game 5 of three different playoff series — Bucks vs. Orlando Magic, Houston Rockets vs. Oklahoma City Thunder and Los Angeles Lakers vs. Portland Trail Blazers.

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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.
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. “Let me be clear, the violence must stop, whether in Minneapolis, Portland, or Kenosha. Too many heroes have died defending our freedoms to see Americans strike each other down. We will have law and order on the streets of this country for every American of every race and creed and color.”

Trump himself has said little about Blake’s shooting, instead condemning violence in Kenosha that’s flared following the incident.

This story has been updated with additional comments and background.

CNN’s Jill Martin, Leah Asmelash and David Close contributed to this report.

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