LaVar Ball — hoops patriarch of the family that produced Lakers rookie Lonzo and standout prospects LiAngelo and LaMelo — is cranking up his beef with President Trump.
The topic: Ball’s perceived lack of gratitude toward Trump after the president intervened on behalf of LiAngelo and two other UCLA basketball players caught shoplifting in China.
The result: one of the testiest — and weirdest — prime-time spots in recent times.
“It wasn’t like he was in the U.S. and said, ‘Okay, there’s three kids in China, I need to go over there and get them,'” Ball told Cuomo. “That wasn’t the thought process.”
Trump reportedly spoke to Chinese President Xi Jinping about freeing the three college players after they were caught while in China for a game against Georgia Tech. But when LaVar Ball downplayed Trump’s effort last week in an interview with ESPN, the president shot back via Twitter.
The elder Ball, the president wrote on Sunday, “is unaccepting of what I did for his son and that shoplifting is no big deal. I should have left them in jail!”
“You heard what he tweeted,” Ball told Cuomo on Monday night. “He tweeted that cause he’s mad at me, ‘I should have left their asses in jail.’”
“I don’t have to go around saying thank you to everybody,” Ball said. “He didn’t call me, I didn’t shake his hand. Maybe we was doing some talking with some other people.”
Throughout the interview Ball insisted Trump was overstating his role in freeing LiAngelo and the two other American players, Jalen Hill and Cody Riley.
“You got people that make suggestions and you got people that do things,” Ball said. “Why are we even talking about this with all these political matters going on in the world?”
Ball remained adamant through the interview. “I’m not just saying thank you to anybody for nothing,” he said. “I’m just saying I had some things done, I had some people who did some other things.”
“Who?” Cuomo asked.
“It doesn’t matter.”
“Sure it does.”
“It’s not big names like you thinking of.”
Ball said if he would thank anyone, it would be China’s president.
“If [Trump] paid for the money put up for whatever we needed to do, then I would say thank you. Did he do that?”
“That’s the bar?” Cuomo shot back. “If he doesn’t pay bail for the boys then he doesn’t deserve thanks? Come on.”
“No, it’s not that he didn’t put up bail. He said he helped. How’d he help? If he helped, I would say thank you.”
“I think you’ve made this more difficult than you needed to,” Cuomo added at one point. “LaVar you didn’t say thank you to the president. You didn’t.”
“So that makes me a bad person?”
“No I’m just saying . . .”
“Hey man,” Ball blurted out. “Did you thank the doctor for bringing you into this world? Well, you better go back and find him because you lucky.”
Cuomo broke up in laughter.
“See that’s what I’m talking about, you need somebody like me to loosen you up a little bit,” Ball told the CNN personality. “You wound up tight.”
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