CNN Sports Anchor Calls BS On NBA Team’s Excuse For Donating To Trump Rival Ron DeSantis PAC


CNN Sports Anchor and Showtime host Rachel Nichols called BS on an Orlando Magic spokesman’s excuse for a political donation to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, ex-President Donald Trump’s chief GOP rival.

This week, FEC filings showed that the team donated $50,000 to Never Back Down, Inc., a political action committee supporting DeSantis..

The NBA Players Association objected to the donation in a statement that called the donation “alarming given recent comments and policies of its beneficiary,” and concluded “The Magic’s donation does not represent player support for the recipient.”

On Friday night’s edition of CNN Tonight, Nichols told host Jim Acosta that such donations are not common, and said the team’s response — distancing the contribution from presidential politics — doesn’t hold water:

ACOSTA: What do you think of all this? The Players Union calling this donation alarming. How common is it for a sports franchise to donate directly to a Super PAC like this?

RACHEL NICHOLS: Yeah, Jim, I’ve covered the NBA for more than 25 years. I’ve never seen it. And now, of course, we have seen team owners, players, management all individually support political candidates.

Marc Lasry, the former owner of the Milwaukee Bucks, was one of President Obama’s chief fundraisers. We have had Kelly Loeffler, I’m sure you remember her, former U.S. senator, who was a co-owner of the Atlanta Dream. Since she was not supportive of the Black Lives Matter movement, her players went out, fundraised, and supported her opponent, now Senator Raphael Warnock.

And all of those are examples of individuals supporting their political candidates. In fact, the co-owner of the Magic, Betsy DeVos, as we know, was Trump’s education secretary. She’s an individual. What upsets these players so much is that this donation was not made on behalf of Betsy DeVos or Dick DeVos. It was made on behalf of the team.

And you have players and coaches and executives who have come out publicly with very different beliefs and opinions than DeSantis’s, and now their names are being used in association with this donation.

And more importantly, as the Players Association statement pointed out, it’s their labor. Money for NBA teams, the Orlando Magic’s money that they donated to Ron DeSantis, doesn’t come from a magic tree elf. It came from the work of those players on the court. And the fact that their work has been turned into a contribution for someone running for president who has come out with statements that they think directly oppose who they are as people, that is very difficult to stomach.

ACOSTA: And I have to think, it’s not just the players, but the fans who get upset about this. I’m a little surprised that the league allows this sort of thing. Like you said, it doesn’t happen. So, I suppose this is maybe a bit of a test case.

What does this do to the players? Does it put them in a position where they’re kind of in between a rock and a hard place? They can speak out through the players’ union, but not a whole lot they can do individually or publicly?

NICHOLS: I mean, we’ve had individual players around the league react to this over the last 24, 36 hours. I’ve not seen Orlando Magic players criticize their boss directly, which I think you can understand. But I think the feeling throughout the league is they’ve said their piece, they’ve expressed their disappointment.

And now that Ron DeSantis has flipped this around and he is publicly criticizing the NBA and the players association for this statement, he’s actually using parts of the statement in fundraising text, I would not expect the NBA as a league or the players themselves to take the bait here.

They know exactly what this game is, and they’re not going to give him any more oxygen on this, is my prediction.

ACOSTA: Yeah. I think — the Orlando Magic spokesman, Joel Glass, described the check as supporting DeSantis in his role as governor because it was written on May 19th, days before he formally launched his presidential candidacy on May 24th. They’re saying in part it was given as a Florida business in support of a Florida governor for the continued prosperity of central Florida.

Rachel, you could take that for what it’s worth. I mean, it did go to a Super PAC. We do know what Super PACs do. But anyway, that’s the team’s —

NICHOLS: I do want to say, Joel Glass is actually really excellent at his job, but his boss put him in a crappy position here and, as you say, it doesn’t really hold up, right?


NICHOLS: I mean, everybody knew, everyone’s mother knew, everyone’s mother’s pets knew that Ron DeSantis was about to announce for president, let you know, in the coming a couple weeks. So, doesn’t really hold up as a statement. But I guess, you know, you got to say something. As I said, he’s a good guy, good at his job, but this was a tough one.

ACOSTA: Yeah. It’s a blocker charge. I’m not sure which in this situation. All right, Rachel Nichols, if you’ll forgive that sports pun very late at night, thanks so much. We’ll be right back.

Watch above via CNN Tonight.

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