US President Donald Trump again hit out on Sunday at the father of one of the college basketball players arrested for shoplifting sunglasses in China, accusing LaVar Ball of minimizing the President’s role in the students’ release.
“Shoplifting is a very big deal in China, as it should be (5-10 years in jail), but not to father LaVar. Should have gotten his son out during my next trip to China instead,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “China told them why they were released. Very ungrateful!”
It was Trump’s second tweet Sunday on the matter, which followed Ball downplaying Trump’s involvement when asked about it by sports broadcaster ESPN.
“Who?” Ball said. “What was he over there for? Don’t tell me nothing. Everybody wants to make it seem like he helped me out.”
Ball then said he had told his son that people were making “a big deal out of nothing” when it came to the arrests. “I’m from L.A,” Ball said. “I’ve seen a lot worse things happen than a guy taking some glasses.”
The comments prompted Trump to tweet that Ball, also father of LA Lakers rookie Lonzo, was “unaccepting” of the President’s role.
“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,” Trump said. “I should have left them in jail!”
The President’s tweets were preceded Saturday by one sent from his social media director, Dan Scavino, to Ball’s personal Twitter page.
“Wannabe @Lakers coach, BIG MOUTH @Lavarbigballer knows if it weren’t for President @realDonaldTrump, his son would be in China for a long, long, long time! #FACT,” Scavino wrote.
LiAngelo Ball, Cody Riley and Jalen Hill apologised Thursday at a news conference for shoplifting from an upscale store in Hangzhou while they were in China for an exhibition game earlier this month.
“I would like to start off by saying sorry for stealing from the stores of China. I didn’t exercise my best judgment and I was wrong for that,” said Ball, who also apologised to the people of China.
The players also thanked Trump for helping them win their release, which followed comments by Trump the previous day on Twitter that they should thank him.
After the news conference, Trump tweeted that all three should also thank Chinese President Xi Jinping, saying he also made their release possible.
All three players have been suspended from the UCLA basketball team indefinitely.