It’s been a very weird week around the UCLA basketball program. A trio of freshman, including LiAngelo Ball, were arrested for shoplifting in China. It led to the three players — Ball, Cody Riley, and Jalen Hill — getting detained while their team flew back to the United States, and the potential for some type of punishment from the government was on the table.
The entire saga got to the point that the presidents of both nations — Donald Trump and Xi Jinping — actually discussed the incident. After the players were allowed to leave China, Trump tweeted that he wanted the players to thank him for doing them a solid. Additionally, the president alleged the players were facing a decade in jail. (One ESPN reporter said that multiple sources told him it would have been a week or two.)
Everyone eventually got back to the United States, and in addition to getting handed an indefinite suspension by the program, a press conference was held in which the players thanked the president for his help.
Whether their prison sentence — had they actually needed to serve one — would have been for 14 days or 10 years is something that we may never know. Either way, hopefully this is the last time a college basketball team’s trip abroad ends with the leaders of the United States and China having a heart-to-heart over whether they should be in trouble with the legal system. It’d be great if we can avoid basketball trips ending in an international incident.