Milwaukee Bucks assistant coach Vin Baker and senior vice president Alex Lasry on Tuesday said that senior White House adviser Jared Kushner was out of bounds when he lashed out at the team last week for boycotting a playoff game amid protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin over the police shooting of Jacob Blake.
The Bucks’ boycott prompted numerous protests within the sports world and led to the NBA’s postponement of three playoff games that were scheduled to take place as players around the league joined the Milwaukee-based team in refusing to play in the wake of Blake’s shooting by police.
Last week, Kushner — who reportedly earned $36 million with his wife and fellow White House adviser, Ivanka Trump, last year — ironically criticized the Bucks for having the “luxury” to boycott a playoff game during an interview on CNBC.
“I think that 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. “So they have that luxury, which is great.”
When asked about Kushner’s remarks in an interview with Politico on Tuesday morning, Baker replied Kushner was being insensitive.
“I don’t obviously agree with the comment,” Baker said. “There’s a level of ignorance there.”
Baker added that boycotting the playoff game “wasn’t about us taking the night off” and that it was a response to yet another instance of police brutality captured on video.
“Not just the Milwaukee Bucks, not just our players and our staff and our organization, but everyone should’ve been angry about what we saw,” Baker said.
Baker insisted it wasn’t an easy decision to decline to play.
“It was compassion for a fellow brother, fellow family and I would say we would do it again if we have the opportunity, and if that situation came again, and hopefully it doesn’t,” Baker said. “Hopefully we’ve made a statement and hopefully we can get some changes from what we did, the act that we did. I hope we find ourselves on the right side of history.”
Lasry told Politico that the White House had not reached out to the team, before echoing Baker’s comments by characterizing Kushner’s remarks as a “little ironic, coming from him.”
“This wasn’t anyone taking a night off and then just going back to their hotel room being like, ‘Eh … I just didn’t want to play today,” Lasry said. “This was a statement. And this was an act to say, ‘Hey, enough is enough, and if you guys aren’t going to take this seriously, then we’re going to have to do something to bring this to the forefront again and hopefully force people to act.”
Lasry went on to add that the Bucks’ decision to boycott a playoff game is “powerful” given how the President has tweeted about it and the White House commented on the matter.
On Tuesday morning, Trump ripped the NBA for being “highly political” in a tweet.
People are tired of watching the highly political @NBA. Basketball ratings are WAY down, and they won’t be coming back. I hope football and baseball are watching and learning because the same thing will be happening to them. Stand tall for our Country and our Flag!!!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 1, 2020