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LaVar Ball Refuses to Thank Donald Trump for Helping LiAngelo in China on CNN

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistNovember 21, 2017

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 02:  LaVar Ball holds courd during The Los Angeles Lakers game against the Denver Nuggets at Staples Center on October 2, 2017 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images)
Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images

LaVar Ball spoke to CNN's Chris Cuomo after President Donald Trump offered a pair of critical statements about LiAngelo Ball following LiAngelo's arrest in China on shoplifting charges.

Ball questioned Trump's role in the situation and declined to offer a thank you to the president, telling Cuomo he "[doesn't] have to go around saying thank you to everybody," per CNN:

CNN @CNN

LaVar Ball, the father of a basketball player freed from China who also recently ran afoul of President Trump on Twitter, talks with @ChrisCuomo: "I don't have to go around saying thank you to everybody" https://t.co/Y1HRSycqyD https://t.co/a7in4bLogG

Ball said a trip for LiAngelo on Air Force One would've changed his attitude toward Trump, according to ESPN's Darren Rovell:

Darren Rovell @darrenrovell

LaVar Ball on why he didn’t say “Thank You” to Trump: “I would have said thank you if he would have put (LiAngelo) on his plane and taken him home...there’s a lot of room on that plane.”

Ball minimized the gravity of LiAngelo's crime and called it a "bad decision at a bad time." CNN shared his statements on Twitter:

CNN @CNN

"He fessed up to it. ... It was an impulse thing, a bad decision at a bad time, that's all it was for an 18-year-old who never done anything wrong," says LaVar Ball, father of UCLA basketball player LiAngelo Ball https://t.co/NE3kictbKv https://t.co/ZGobFZ6Aug

The elder Ball also questioned why Trump has turned LiAngelo's arrest into a bigger story than it already was.

"Let him do his political affairs," Ball said, per USA Today's Dan Wolken. "Let me handle my son and let's just stay in our lane."

Ball's youngest son, LaMelo, reacted to LaVar's interview:

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Melo @MELOD1P

The most powerful man of the world cmon now lol I’m dead😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂💀💀💀💀

The originator of the Big Baller Brand entered the orbit of President Trump after Chinese authorities arrested LiAngelo and two other UCLA basketball players on Nov. 7.

While the rest of the team headed home following a Nov. 10 win over the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, the trio of Ball, Cody Riley and Jalen Hill remained in China to resolve their legal issues. They subsequently returned to the United States on Nov. 14.

A day later, Trump tweeted about the process and that the three players were facing 10 years in a Chinese prison:

Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump

Do you think the three UCLA Basketball Players will say thank you President Trump? They were headed for 10 years in jail!

ESPN.com's Arash Markazi reported Chinese authorities had planned to detain Ball, Riley and Hill for one to two weeks. Yahoo Sports' Jeff Eisenberg elaborated on that part of the story:

Jeff Eisenberg @JeffEisenberg

LaVar isn't coming across great on CNN, but he's right about one thing: The UCLA three were already receiving special treatment and were well on their way to avoiding jail time before Trump intervened.

Markazi also spoke to LaVar, who minimized Trump's importance in getting LiAngelo home.

"Who?" LaVar said when asked about Trump. "What was he over there for? Don't tell me nothing. Everybody wants to make it seem like he helped me out."

That prompted a response from the president Sunday:

Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump

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

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. China told them why they were released. Very ungrateful!

Given Ball's defiant comments toward Trump on Monday night, it would appear the war of words between him and the president is unlikely to quiet down.

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