…LaVar, you could have spent the next 5 to 10 years during Thanksgiving with your son in China, but no NBA contract to support you. But remember LaVar, shoplifting is NOT a little thing. It’s a really big deal, especially in China. Ungrateful fool!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 22, 2017
Ball—in case you’ve taken the week off and have ignored this unnecessary imbroglio—is the father of Liangelo Ball, a UCLA basketball player who was arrested with two teammates in China for shoplifting (One of Ball’s other sons, Lonzo, plays for the Los Angeles Lakers).
Trump began the morning before Thanksgiving by taunting Ball, saying if it wasn’t for him, Lavar would have spent his holidays over the next decade visiting his child in jail, while also calling him a poor man’s Don King. He also took a second out to discredit the State Department as well as his own White House.
It wasn’t the White House, it wasn’t the State Department, it wasn’t father LaVar’s so-called people on the ground in China that got his son out of a long term prison sentence – IT WAS ME. Too bad! LaVar is just a poor man’s version of Don King, but without the hair. Just think..— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 22, 2017
The fight between the president and the first family of basketball began in earnest over the weekend. During his swing through Asia last week, the president spoke with Chinese President Xi Jinping to intervene on behalf of the UCLA players, helping secure their release. After they returned to the U.S., Trump kicked off the fight by demanding gratitude for his efforts.
Do you think the three UCLA Basketball Players will say thank you President Trump? They were headed for 10 years in jail!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 15, 2017
The players thanked Trump in a press conference, saying they “appreciated” him helping out, but Liangelo’s father then said in his own interview that he didn’t want to credit the president for their release.
“Did he help the boys get out? I don’t know. If I was going to thank somebody, I’d probably thank President Xi,” Ball said. “He’s the president in China. Somebody can make a suggestion and somebody can do something.”
Trump responded by saying he should have left the players in jail.
Now that the three basketball players are out of China and saved from years in jail, LaVar Ball, the father of LiAngelo, is unaccepting of what I did for his son and that shoplifting is no big deal. I should have left them in jail!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 19, 2017
In a press briefing at the White House after his tweets, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, when pressed, told reporters that the president was simply being rhetorical.
Trump concluded this morning’s string of tweets by retweeting a Twitter user who said he hated Hillary Clinton but had she done something on his behalf he would have “[thanked] her corrupt ass.”
Because it all comes back to her.