White House adviser and President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, took a swipe at NBA players on Thursday over their decision not to play playoff games Wednesday as they protested the shooting of Jacob Blake by police. Kushner also said in an interview that he would reach out to Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James on Thursday.
“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,” Kushner said in an interview with CNBC. “They have that luxury, which is great. Look, with the NBA, I think there is a lot of activism and they’ve put a lot of slogans out, but what I think we need is to turn that from slogans and signals into actual action that’s going to solve the problem.”
In an interview with Politico Thursday morning, Kushner said that if James “reached out to the White House, we’re happy to talk with him.” He added that he hadn’t reached out to James but said, “I’ll reach out to him today.”
Several NBA players have used their platform to speak out on issues of systemic racism and have led initiatives that funnel resources back to underserved and underrepresented communities. James opened the “I Promise” school in 2018, which is a public school in his hometown of Akron, Ohio, and is a partnership between Akron and the LeBron James Family Foundation.
James also teamed with fellow NBA All-Star Trae Young, WNBA star Skylar Diggins-Smith and longtime NBA great Jalen Rose, among others, to launch More Than A Vote. The organization helps Black people register to vote and provides education on how to vote, as well as raising awareness on voter suppression tactics.
Also on Thursday morning, Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff, Marc Short, addressed the NBA player protests in an interview with CNN.
“In my mind, it’s absurd, it’s silly,” Short said before criticizing players for not being outspoken on issues relating to China, with whom the league has strong business ties. “If they want to protest, I don’t think we care. If they want to say that ‘We’re not going to play any more games,’ I don’t think that’s a position that you’re going to see us speak out on one way or the other.”
Wednesday’s postponements started after the Milwaukee Bucks, who play 40 miles south of Kenosha, Wisconsin, where Blake was shot, boycotted Game 5 in their first-round playoff series against the Orlando Magic.