Donald Trump has said the NBA has become “like a political organisation” after an unprecedented refusal to play led to the postponement of playoff matches for a second day.
The Milwaukee Bucks were the first to refuse to leave their dressing room to play the Orlando Magic on Wednesday, with players demanding action on police brutality and racial injustice.
This was followed by games on Thursday being postponed.
The decision to stop the games comes after the shooting of Jacob Blake, a black man, in Kenosha, Wisconsin, which has since been the scene of violent protests, and the shooting to death of two people.
NBA players considered not playing again for the rest of the postseason and going home, although they decided on Thursday they wanted to continue, according to a person with knowledge of the details.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity because no official announcement had been made.
“We obviously agree that whether we play or not, we still have to do our best to make change and we still have to do our part in the community,” Orlando guard Michael Carter-Williams said in a video interview with a Magic public relations official.
“It’s obviously not easy, given everything that’s going on. But I think that if we can go out there and do our best and also have a list of things that we want to accomplish, everything gets completed.”
The US president told reporters on Thursday: “They’ve become like a political organization, and that’s not a good thing.” Claiming the NBA’s ratings were down, he added: “I don’t think that’s a good thing for sports or for the country.”
The league and its players have been outspoken in calls for reforms in the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May. The NBA has even incorporated its support for the Black Lives Matter movement into player uniforms and advertising. Trump has called that movement “a symbol of hate.”
The NBA resumed on July 30 after players and staff were moved to a virus-free bubble at Disney in Florida.
Players have been tested daily while on campus. There were two cases of players testing positive upon their arrival at Disney, both of which were found before either made it out of the initial mandatory in-room quarantine.