American President Donald Trump doubled down in his mounting feud with the father of a UCLA basketball player detained for shoplifting in Shanghai, saying Wednesday that he was an “ungrateful fool”.
Trump again raised his complaint that LaVar Ball, the outspoken father of LiAngelo Ball, hasn’t given him proper credit for the release of his son and two other UCLA basketball players from detention in China.
In a series of pre-dawn tweets from his Florida vacation home, Trump said: “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,” he said, referencing the flamboyant boxing promoter whom Trump once saluted as “a phenomenal person” despite a conviction for manslaughter.
Trump also warned that Ball “could have spent the next 5 to 10 years during Thanksgiving with your son in China, but no NBA contract to support you” had it not been for his intervention, possibly mixing up LiAngelo, an unpaid amateur with one career appearance at the collegiate level, with Ball’s eldest son Lonzo, the No2 overall pick in June’s NBA draft who signed a reported four-year, $33.4m contract with the Los Angeles Lakers this summer.
“But remember LaVar, shoplifting is NOT a little thing. It’s a really big deal, especially in China,” he wrote.
Trump’s remarks appeared to be in response to Ball’s bizarre 23-minute interview with CNN’s Chris Cuomo on Monday night, during which the eccentric patriarch insisted he didn’t need to say “thank you” to the president because “I had some things done, I talked to some people that did some things, too.”
He added: “If I feel nobody did anything, I don’t have to go around saying thank you to everybody.”
LiAngelo Ball and two UCLA teammates were released after a brief detention in China while Trump was visiting the country. Trump has taken credit for the release, saying he discussed the situation with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Trump had previously said he should have left all three players in jail because LaVar Ball hadn’t thanked him publicly for his intervention.
All three players have been suspended from the team indefinitely.
The president also retweeted a post from Joey Mannarino, a US-born radio host living in London, who echoed the statement: “The ungratefulness is something I’ve never seen before. If you get someone’s son out of prison, he should be grateful to you. Period. I don’t care. If Hillary got my kid out of prison, as much as I hate the woman, I’d thank her corrupt ass.”
Trump on Wednesday also spoke out against the idea of keeping NFL players in the locker room during the playing of the national anthem as a response to some players refusing to stand to protest racial inequality and police brutality.
“That’s almost as bad as kneeling! When will the highly paid Commissioner finally get tough and smart?” Trump wrote. “This issue is killing your league!”
Trump, who is spending Thanksgiving at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, followed up the Ball and Goodell tweets with a response to the Navy aircraft mishap in the Pacific Ocean, in which three of 11 people on a plane that crashed while on the way to the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier are still missing.
He said in a tweet: “We are monitoring the situation. Prayers for all involved.”