LiAngelo Ball Was Not Headed To Jail Even If Donald Trump Didn’t Help

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Donald Trump has very loudly taken credit for the fact that three UCLA men’s basketball players are not currently occupying a Chinese prison over the Thanksgiving holiday. But one reporter wants to make something perfectly clear: LiAngelo Ball, Jalen Hill and Cody Riley were not headed to jail in their shoplifting incident, regardless of whether the president did or did not help.

Ball personally thanked Trump for his help, which was no longer good enough when his father, LaVar Ball, somehow baited the 45th president of the United States into a feud in the days that followed.

Lost in that, according to one ESPN reporter, is plenty of context. Arash Markazi Tweeted a few times about the incident, starting on Wednesday when he was frustrated that reports kept indicating the three UCLA students were in prison before they were suddenly released and allowed to travel back to the United States.

Retweeting a Washington Post article that said Trump incorrectly claimed the teens faced 10 years in prison, Markazi pointed out that various agencies were working to free the athletes, and that it was extremely unlikely the three would actually be jailed.

Markazi stressed that he did not want to diminish anyone’s actions but pointed out that the story in many ways had been stripped of context and perspective, which he certainly had while covering it in China for ESPN.

Meanwhile, Trump’s consistent attacks on people of color in the sports world has not escaped the notice of reporters north of the border. The Toronto Star published a piece on Thursday, a normal weekday in Canada, that claimed Trump’s targeting of black sports figures is, intentional or not, a bit of racism from the president.

Included in the piece is a quote from Dante Stallworth, a former NFL player who now works for CNN.

“It’s a pattern that to me, and to most observers, is an obvious pattern. They’ll try to deny it because he’s taken pictures with Black people, because he has Black people working in the White House. But to me that doesn’t mean anything. It doesn’t take for him to wear a hood for him to be a white supremacist,” said Donte Stallworth, a former NFL player and now a CNN contributor. “In his actions, he is a white supremacist. And we shouldn’t be afraid to say that. It’s a damning charge, but it’s something that if you observe the facts, you will see the certainty of who he is.”

Trump’s sports act at this point is pretty obvious: comment on the NFL and anthem protests, criticize athletes of color and cycle through when stories pop up on Fox News. But as always, you have to go elsewhere if you’re looking for the truth of the matter.