In what could spark the type of media showdown that finishes off what is left of our melted brains, LaVar Ball is taking aim at Donald Trump. The outspoken patriarch of the Ball family is making it clear that Trump doesn’t deserve any thanks for getting his son LiAngelo and two other UCLA students out of China after a shoplifting incident that had them facing a hefty penalty and house arrest. The president tweeted about the players upon their return, questioning why he wasn’t thanked for his role in their release back to the United States. The players then thanked the president and State Department soon after during a press conference on the incident, earning a follow-up tweet from the president saying you’re welcome and urging them to thank President Xi Jinping of China too.
The players have been suspended indefinitely, but their situation is far better than a possible prison sentence. But according to Ball, the president’s help didn’t mean much to him and he told ESPN as much late Friday:
“Who?” Ball told ESPN when asked about Trump’s involvement in the matter. “What was he over there for? Don’t tell me nothing. Everybody wants to make it seem like he helped me out.”
Whether this is Ball playing for attention by tangling with the president or his actual feelings on what happened in China, it certainly seems like some sort of gauntlet is being thrown down. The odds of it going anywhere else is low, but you never know these days given the president’s focus on anything mentioning his name. Ball did seem to be appreciative that his son is back in the United States and told ESPN that he was “happy with how things were handled”:
“A lot of people like to say a lot of things that they thought happened over there. Like I told him, ‘They try to make a big deal out of nothing sometimes.’ I’m from L.A. I’ve seen a lot worse things happen than a guy taking some glasses. My son has built up enough character that one bad decision doesn’t define him. Now if you can go back and say when he was 12 years old he was shoplifting and stealing cars and going wild, then that’s a different thing.
“Everybody gets stuck on the negativity of some things and they get stuck on them too long. That’s not me. I handle what’s going on and then we go from there.”
Some will praise the man for taking a shot at Trump, but most are probably ready to just put their heads down and hope it doesn’t turn into the next big showdown between an easily distracted president and the braggadocious father of an NBA rookie. We are not ready.