NBA Commissioner Defends League, BLM After Trump Called Players 'Nasty' and 'Dumb'

NBA commissioner Adam Silver responded to President Donald Trump referring to the league's players as "nasty" and "dumb" for holding silent protests during the playing of the National Anthem.

Silver defended the league's players in an interview Friday with PBS NewsHour's Judy Woodruff, saying league administrators support some of the players who hold the anti-police brutality protests during the National Anthem.

Last Tuesday, Trump called into Fox Sports radio and said of the professional basketball players, "Some are very nasty. Very, very nasty, and frankly, very dumb."

Woodruff asked Silver to respond to Trump's latest round of criticism directed toward the league, which the president also aimed at the NBA's ongoing business dealings in China.

"As I am sure you know, President Trump has been — he has become a harsh critic of the NBA. He says he is not watching the games. He says he is offended that most of the players are not kneeling during the national anthem. He is calling the players nasty and even very dumb," Woodruff asked Silver.

Silver replied that roughly 55 million Americans have watched the NBA games leading up to the playoffs so far this year, particularly the coveted demographic of men between the ages of 18 to 49 years old. "And in terms of Black Lives Matter," Silver continued, "we support it as a national movement. Depending on estimates, roughly 25 million Americans have protested for social justice in the country — in this country."

Silver defended players who have chosen to conduct silent, kneeling protests during the National Anthem before games. "The players have — are participating in a peaceful protest. And we have supported that," he said, adding that this current era of side-by-side White House criticism and BLM protests have made for "extraordinary times."

Newsweek reached out to both the White House and the NBA communications department for any additional reactions to Silver's remarks Saturday morning.

Silver rejected criticism from Trump and conservatives who have accused the league of cozying up to China's Communist Party simply to do business with the country's massive fan base. The NBA is currently making billions of dollars off of its Chinese consumers, which came to a head last year when the Houston Rockets' general manager tweeted out in support of pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong.

"As a result, we were taken off the air, Chinese Central Television, for the first time in 30 years. And our games are still not back on the air, as a result of our supporting that general manager and supporting, frankly, American values, the values of free speech," Silver said, adding that the NBA has had ties to China since the Washington Bullets played a game there in 1979.

adam silver defends nba blm
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver responded to President Donald Trump referring to the league's players as "nasty" and "dumb" for holding silent protests during the playing of the National Anthem. TAKASHI AOYAMA / Stringer/Getty Images
NBA Commissioner Defends League, BLM After Trump Called Players 'Nasty' and 'Dumb' | Sports