- LaVar Ball was a guest on CNN on Monday night to discuss his feud with President Donald Trump.
- One of Ball’s sons was arrested in China with two UCLA basketball teammates after the three were accused of shoplifting, and Trump says he asked for Chinese President Xi Jinping’s help in allowing the players to leave the country. Ball has dismissed Trump’s assistance.
- Ball said he would have thanked the president if the UCLA players actually came home on Air Force One.
LaVar Ball, who is famous for being the father of some good basketball players and talking boisterously about it, appeared on CNN on Monday night to discuss his war of words with President Donald Trump. The interview quickly went off the rails as Ball created more confusion than answers.
In an interview that lasted more than 20 minutes, Ball spent the majority of time sparring with the CNN host Chris Cuomo. Ball refused to thank Trump for the president’s role in the release of Ball’s son LiAngelo and two other UCLA basketball players who were arrested and charged with shoplifting during a recent team trip to China. The Trump administration has said that Trump brought the players’ arrest up during a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping and that the players, who were being held in a hotel, were allowed to leave the country shortly afterward.
Ball started the interview by questioning why Trump was in China in the first place, suggesting that the fact Trump’s opportunity to help was coincidental – he was already in China as part of a 12-day Asia trip – diminished the president’s role in the players’ release.
“He didn’t even know they were over there,” Ball said. “What was he even over there for in the first place? … What I’m trying to say is, it’s not like he was in the US and said, ‘There’s three kids in China – I need to go over there and get ’em.’ That wasn’t the thought process.”
Ball then tried to explain why he wouldn’t thank the president.
“I don’t have to go around saying ‘thank you’ to everybody,” Ball said. “He didn’t call me. I didn’t shake his hand. He didn’t have to say nothin’, but I’m just sayin’. I have to know what somebody is doing before I say ‘thank you.’ I’m not just going to go around saying ‘thank you.'”
Ball then suggested that work was already being done behind the scenes to secure the players’ release before Trump got involved.
“Maybe we were doing some talking with some other people before he even got there,” Ball said, adding: “There is a lot of other matters going around for the president to deal with that’s political. As far as me, let me deal with my son.”
Things only deteriorated from there between Cuomo and Ball as Ball, on multiple occasions, suggested Trump did not help the UCLA players because he did not bring them home on Air Force One.
“I’ll tell you this. If I’m coming to get you, let’s say I’m coming to get you out of trouble,” Ball said. “You best believe I am going to take you with me.”
But in a confusing exchange, Ball declined to double down on that sentiment and directly accuse the president of not doing enough:
Ball did say “that was nice” when told Trump talked to Xi about Ball’s son’s situation, but he again asked, “What did he do for my son?” He reiterated, “I’m not just saying thank you to anybody for nothing,” and said that he “had some things done” and that he spoke with other people who “did some other things too.”
Ball also explained why thought the incident “wasn’t a big deal,” saying he had seen friends go to prison for worse crimes – the players were accused of stealing sunglasses from a Louis Vuitton store – and his son “wasn’t physical, he returned it, he fessed up to it … nobody got hurt.”
He then again dismissed Trump’s influence on the release, noting that the president later said he should have “left them in jail.”
“First of all, they weren’t in jail – they was in a hotel,” Ball said. “Now, how did they get to the hotel on bail? Somebody had to do something … If he helped, I’d say ‘thank you.'”
At that point, Ball and Cuomo got into an argument over who was in China.
Ball then reiterated that he “don’t know” if the president actually helped in the release of the players, dropping one of his favourite lines, saying “let’s just stay in our lane,” in reference to the president sticking to politics and Ball dealing with his son.
This led to an argument over whether Ball “took a shot” at the president.
But if things seemed as if they were already off the rails, the interview really went haywire when the pair sparred over thank-yous, whether Cuomo would thank Ball for his appearance, and going full circle to Ball saying he would have thanked the president if “he would have put him on his plane and took them home.”
A retort from Trump at this point feels inevitable.
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