NBA Players Have Financial 'Luxury' to Boycott Game in Protest of Jacob Blake Shooting, Jared Kushner Says

Jared Kushner said Thursday that the NBA players who decided to protest the shooting of Jacob Blake by postponing Game 5 of their playoff series have a financial "luxury" to be able to do so.

"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, an adviser to President Donald Trump, told CNBC's Squawk Box on Thursday. "They have that luxury, which is great."

The Milwaukee Bucks and the Orlando Magic were scheduled to face off Wednesday afternoon at the AdventHealth Arena in Orlando, Florida. Instead of appearing on the court floor, the Bucks released a statement explaining that the "horrendous" video showing the shooting of Blake, a 29-year-old Black man, inspired their call for justice.

"Our focus today cannot be on basketball," the Bucks' team statement said. "When we take the court and represent Milwaukee and Wisconsin, we are expected to play at a high level, give maximum effort and hold each other accountable. We hold ourselves to that standard, and in this moment, we are demanding the same from our lawmakers and law enforcement."

Milwaukee Bucks Game 5
An empty court and bench is shown with no signage following the scheduled start time in Game Five of the Eastern Conference First Round between the Milwaukee Bucks and the Orlando Magic during the 2020 NBA Playoffs at AdventHealth Arena at ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex on August 26, 2020 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. The Milwaukee Bucks boycotted Game 5 to protest the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Kevin C. Cox/Getty

The Magic shortly thereafter agreed to postpone the game and released a statement of their own saying they "stand united" in "condemning bigotry, racial injustice and the unwarranted use of violence by police against people of color."

The NBA later said all of the playoff games scheduled for Wednesday would be postponed and rescheduled.

Video of Blake's shooting in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on Sunday evening quickly circulated on social media and has so far resulted in four nights of protests. Protesters in Kenosha and across the U.S. have called for the Kenosha police officers involved in the shooting to be brought to justice.

The calls for change come after months of protests against systemic racism that started in late May after George Floyd died while in police custody in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Trump's administration has been criticized for its response to the protests throughout the summer, which came to a head last month when federal troops were sent into Portland, Oregon, to help local law enforcement quell the violence in the city.

When asked if the White House supported the NBA players and owners in their decision to postpone the games, Kushner said there was a need to take the debate from an emotional place and make it constructive.

"With the NBA, there's a lot of activism, and I think that they've put a lot of slogans out, but I think that what we need to do is turn that from slogans and signals to actual action that's going to solve the problem," he said.

Kushner said that, as a former Democrat, he agreed with the president's stance that the Democrat-run cities that have experienced violent protests over the summer need new leadership. "Now that I'm a Trump Republican, I do feel like the Democrats have run these cities for a long time, and you have nothing but failure and broken promises. President Trump has a platform that actually will make a difference," he said, adding that Trump would discuss that platform more during his presidential nomination acceptance speech on the final evening of the Republican National Convention.

"You're not going to get a different result by following the same people who have failed in doing the same policies that haven't worked," Kushner said. "It's time for something new."

Newsweek reached out to the Milwaukee Bucks and the Orlando Magic for comment but did not receive a response in time for publication.