LOS ANGELES (CBSLA/AP) — Lavar Ball doesn’t owe anyone anything, according to Lavar Ball – except maybe an explanation.
After the outspoken basketball dad questioned the extent of President Donald Trump’s involvement in securing his son’s release from the custody of Chinese authorities during a combative 20-minute CNN interview on Monday night, some on social media were pointing to Ball’s suggestion that he personally put up his son’s bail money as the reason for his reluctant gratitude.
The president, in tweets Sunday, said he should have left LiAngelo Ball and two other UCLA basketball players accused of shoplifting in jail because LaVar Ball “is unaccepting of what I did for his son” and “very ungrateful!” LaVar Ball has refused to thank Trump.
Ball didn’t back down during the CNN interview, telling host Chris Cuomo that Trump has more important things to do than ask for his gratitude.
“That’s on your mind, that a father didn’t say ‘Thank you’? And you’re the head of the U.S.? Come on,” Ball said. “There’s a lot of other things that’s going on. Let him do his political affairs and let me handle my son, and let’s just stay in our lane.”
Ball suggested that he and Chinese president Xi Jinping had more to do with securing his son’s release than the president.
“Did (Trump) help the boys get out? I don’t know. If I was going to thank somebody, I probably would thank President Xi. He’s in China. He’s the president of China,” Ball said, later adding: “I helped my son get out of China. I had some people that had boots on the ground that knew the situation.”
He went on to suggest that his lack of thankfulness toward the president was because Ball himself may have put up the money to get LiAngelo out of jail.
BALL: First of all, they weren’t in jail, they were in a hotel. Now how did they get to the hotel on bail?
CUOMO: Did you make that happen?
BALL: Somebody had to do something. Somebody had to do something.
CUOMO: Did you do it?
BALL: I’m telling you, somebody had to do something.
CUOMO: I know. I’m asking you, did you do it?
BALL: I’m asking you, I’m asking you. Did he do it?
CUOMO: He says he helped get them out of China.
BALL: OK. If he paid for the money to put up whatever we needed to do then I will say thank you. Did he do that?
CUOMO: So that’s the bar, if he doesn’t put up the bail for the boys then he doesn’t deserve thanks? Come on.
BALL: No, it’s not if he didn’t put up bail. He said he help. How did he help? If he helped, I would say thank you.
(Quotes taken from unofficial CNN transcript)
While the Chinese legal system allows for release on guarantee, or bail, under which a suspect may not travel for one year, it’s unclear exactly what steps were taken by Ball or any other party to secure the players’ release.
The bombastic dad also said he would be more willing to thank the president if Trump would’ve brought the 19-year-old home on Air Force One.
“I would say thank you if he woulda put him on his plane and take him home,” said Ball.
The reaction from social media was not unsurprising.
LiAngelo and fellow UCLA freshmen Jalen Hill and Cody Riley have been suspended indefinitely. They were arrested and questioned about stealing from high-end stores next to the team’s hotel in Hangzhou, where the Bruins stayed before leaving for Shanghai to play Georgia Tech. All three apologized for their actions and thanked Trump for his role in securing their release, which occurred while the president was traveling in Asia.
Had they faced prosecution, they could have faced up to 10 years for robbery under the strict Chinese legal system.
The trio isn’t allowed to suit up, be on the bench for home games or travel with the team. Without them, No. 23 UCLA lost to Creighton on Monday night in the Hall of Fame Classic.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)