WASHINGTON -- Vice President Mike Pence's chief of staff, Marc Short, said Thursday that NBA protests over the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin, are "absurd and silly," while White House senior adviser Jared Kushner told CNBC that the players were "very fortunate" to be in a financial position to "take a night off from work."
"If they want to protest, I don't think we care," Short told CNN's "New Day."
The comments came the day after the NBA postponed three scheduled playoff games, prompted by the Milwaukee Bucks' decision not to take the floor for a game against the Orlando Magic. The players are demanding that lawmakers act to address police brutality and racial injustice.
"Look, I do think that peaceful protest has a place and it has importance," Kushner said. "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."
Players and teams from MLB, the WNBA, MLS and pro tennis sat out events Wednesday night, and NBA players and coaches met for nearly three hours to determine the next steps, including whether the season should continue. On Thursday, both the NBA and WNBA announced they would resume their seasons.
"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 on CNBC.
President Donald Trump, who was to deliver his renomination acceptance speech Thursday evening at a scaled-back Republican National Convention, has made restoring "law and order" to cities a centerpiece of his campaign during a summer of sometimes violent protests following the death of George Floyd, a Black man whose killing by Minneapolis police in late May spurred national unrest.
At an appearance earlier Thursday, he said that he didn't know much about the NBA protest and criticized the league's television ratings "because I think people are tired of the NBA, frankly." He said the league had become a "political organization."
Short also took aim at the NBA's relative silence over human rights abuses in China, a key market for the league. The NBA last month faced scathing criticism from Republicans after an ESPN report that young participants in a league program in China were physically beaten by Chinese instructors and were not provided proper schooling.
The league and its players have been outspoken in calls for reforms in the aftermath of the killing of Floyd. The NBA has incorporated its support for the Black Lives Matter movement onto player uniforms and through advertising. Trump has called that movement "a symbol of hate."
Late Wednesday night, well after the NBA postponed its games for the day, Sal DiCiccio, a city councilman in Phoenix, took to Twitter to voice his displeasure with the Lakers and LA Clippers considering a boycott of the rest of the playoffs. DiCiccio, who represents sections of south and east-central Phoenix, tweeted that he hoped the two teams followed through with the playoff boycotts so "we don't have to listen to any more whiny b----es."
DiCiccio responded to tweets from national NBA writers, including ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, reiterating his stance while identifying himself as "an official with the City of Phoenix"
DiCiccio double-downed on his comments with a tweet Thursday: "I'm tired of these entitled athletes playing in taxpayer-funded stadiums making millions of dollars pounding on police officers who make $40K a year. Public is tired of them, too."
Information from ESPN's Josh Weinfuss and The Associated Press is included in this report.