LaVar Ball, the father of Los Angeles Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball, has never been one to avoid courting controversy.
The famously outspoken father has already criticized Luke Walton’s usage of his son and gotten into wars of words with other NBA players, but on Friday night he went after a decidedly larger target: President Donald Trump, via Arash Markazi of ESPN:
LaVar Ball downplayed his son’s shoplifting incident in China as well as U.S. president Donald Trump’s involvement in getting his son and two UCLA teammates back to the United States earlier this week.
“Who?” Ball told ESPN when asked about Trump’s involvement in the matter. “What was he over there for? Don’t tell me nothing. Everybody wants to make it seem like he helped me out.”
UCLA guard LiAngelo Ball, Lonzo’s younger brother, was detained along with two UCLA teammates in China for allegedly shoplifting, a situation which Trump reportedly helped rectify, thus enabling the Bruins players to return home.
After the incident, Trump wondered on Twitter when he’d be thanked for his assistance:
Do you think the three UCLA Basketball Players will say thank you President Trump? They were headed for 10 years in jail!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 15, 2017
LiAngelo and his fellow Bruins did thank Trump for his assistance at the press conference announcing that they had returned home and would be indefinitely suspended by UCLA, but it’s perhaps unsurprising that LaVar wants to distance his family from the current administration due to the current political climate.
Alternatively, it might not be a coincidence that LaVar dropped these comments right as the internet was tearing his son apart for not immediately rushing into a scrum to fight alongside his teammates while he’s simultaneously playing the worst stretch of basketball of his life.
LaVar is not an idiot, and he seems to understand more keenly than most what moves the news cycle along, and there is very little he could’ve done to make people forget about Lonzo’s struggles more quickly than start a feud with the most Twitter-argument happy president in U.S. history.
LaVar also just knows the simple value for he and his family’s eponymous Big Baller Brand of being in the news cycle, and this is certainly one way to get a lot more than the traditional outlets talking about him. All press is good press, as they say (unless it’s press about your sons shoplifting and/or playing badly).
Whatever the reason LaVar chose to go at Trump now, only one thing is certain: Everyone needs to grab their popcorn for the president’s response.
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