LOS ANGELES — LaVar Ball denies being in a feud with President Donald Trump, but repeatedly refused to issue a “thanks” to the president for his involvement in the release of his son from China.
“Why would I be in war with a guy … the most powerful man in the world?” Ball said Monday night when asked about his back-and-forth with the president.
“Did he help the boys get out? I don’t know. … If I was going to thank somebody I’d probably thank President Xi (Jinping).”
His comment came a day after Trump tweeted that he “should have left them in jail,” referring to Ball’s son and two other UCLA basketball players who were arrested on suspicion of stealing sunglasses from a Louis Vuitton store while their team was in China.
“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 tweeted. “I should have left them in jail!”
Last week, Trump questioned on Twitter whether he would receive any thanks for his role in the players’ release.
“Do you think the three UCLA Basketball Players will say thank you President Trump? They were headed for 10 years in jail!” Trump wrote on Twitter.
And although the players expressed gratitude to the president at a news conference, LaVar Ball minimized Trump’s involvement in the matter.
“Who?” he told ESPN when asked about Trump’s role in the situation days after their release. “What was he over there for? Don’t tell me nothing. Everybody wants to make it seem like he helped me out.”
In an interview Monday, LaVar Ball defended his son’s actions and talked around thanking the president.
“It wasn’t like he was in the U.S. and said, ‘OK, there’s three kids in China. I need to go over and get them.’ That wasn’t the thought process,” he said.
“I say thank you when I see something. … If you help, you shouldn’t have to say anything. Let him do his political affairs and let me handle my son and let’s just stay in our lane.”
The interview concluded on a festive note, with LaVar Ball wishing Trump a happy holiday.
“Tell Donald Trump to have a great Thanksgiving,” he said.