The father of an American college basketball student who was recently released from China says he would probably thank the Asian nation’s leader before President Trump.
“Did he help the boys get out? I don’t know,” LaVar Ball said of Trump late Monday on CNN.
“If was going to thank somebody, I’d probably thank President Xi,” he said, referencing Chinese President Xi Jinping.
“He’s the president of China. Somebody can make a suggestion and somebody can do something.”
Ball also questioned why Trump had publicly discussed helping orchestrate the release of his son and two other University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) players from China.
“If you help, you shouldn’t have to say anything,” said LaVar Ball, whose son LiAngelo Ball is a freshman at UCLA.
“Let him do his political affairs and let me handle my son, and let’s just stay in our lane,” he added.
Trump on Sunday said LaVar Ball had acted “very ungrateful” for his help on securing his son’s release from China last week.
“Shoplifting is a very big deal in China, as it should be (5-10 years in jail), but not to father LaVar,” he tweeted.
“Should have gotten his son out during my next trip to China instead,” Trump added. “China told them why they were released. Very ungrateful!”
Trump earlier Sunday tweeted that he “should have left them in jail” while discussing LiAngelo Ball and his teammates Cody Riley and Jalen Hill.
The president was responding to LaVar Ball’s interview last Saturday seemingly downplaying Trump’s role in getting the trio back to the U.S.
“Who?” LaVar Ball told ESPN when asked Trump’s assistance on the matter. “What was he over there for?”
“Don’t tell me nothing,” LaVar Ball added. “Everybody wants to make it seem like he helped me out.”
LiAngelo Ball, Riley and Hill thanked Trump during a news conference last week the day after they returned to America following their detention in China.
The three were arrested and questioned earlier this month about stealing from high-end stores next to their team’s hotel in the eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou during a stop there.
Trump, who concluded a trip through Asia earlier this month, discussed the issue with Xi while visiting Beijing before his journey ended.