WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump said Thursday that the NBA has become like "a political organization," criticizing the league the day after player protests over police brutality led to the postponement of playoff games.
Senior White House aides earlier had suggested that the protests were not constructive and were hypocritical considering the league's relative silence about human rights violations in China, where U.S. pro basketball has a large audience. The president said in a radio interview this month that NBA players were "very nasty" and "very dumb" for kneeling during the national anthem to protest social injustice.
"They've become like a political organization, and that's not a good thing," Trump told reporters Thursday, noting that the league's ratings are down from previous seasons. "I don't think that's a good thing for sports or for the country."
Earlier Thursday, Vice President Mike Pence's chief of staff said in a CNN interview that NBA protests spurred by the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wis., are "absurd and silly" when compared to their response to ongoing to human rights violations in China.