November 18, 2017

Press Encourages LaVar Bell As He Refuses to Credit Trump For Freeing His Son

The 2017 competition for Ingrate of the Year is now closed; the disgraceful distinction belongs to LaVar Bell. Rather than thank Donald Trump for his role in keeping his son and two other UCLA basketball players from rotting in a Chinese prison for several years, Bell, when asked by ESPN about Trump’s role on Friday, shot back “Who?” — and complained that “Everybody wants to make it seem like he helped me out.”

The press has failed to note that Bell’s posture of ingratitude contradicts what he said two days earlier, while some media members appear to be rooting for a long, drawn-out social media battle between Bell and the nation’s Commander-in-Chief.

Bell’s son LiAngelo is one of three UCLA basketball players who would almost certainly still be awaiting trials, slam-dunk convictions, and significant prison time in China for shoplifting from three stores if it weren’t for the intervention of the presidents of two of the most powerful nations in the world.

Apparently no audio or video of the conversation between ESPN’s Arash Markazi and LaVar Bell has been released (if it exists, why not?). But there is this story at ESPN’s website which first went live very early Saturday Eastern Time (bolds are mine throughout this post):

LaVar Ball downplays Donald Trump’s role in UCLA freshmen’s release

LaVar Ball downplayed his son’s shoplifting incident in China, as well as President Donald Trump’s involvement in getting LiAngelo Ball and two other UCLA basketball players back to the United States earlier this week.

“Who?” LaVar Ball told ESPN on Friday, 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 freshmen LiAngelo Ball, Cody Riley and Jalen Hill, who had been detained in China on suspicion of shoplifting, landed in Los Angeles on Tuesday evening and addressed the media on Wednesday before being indefinitely suspended by the team.

Trump, who returned late Tuesday from a trip through Asia, raised the players’ case with President Xi Jinping of China during a visit to Beijing last week. All three players offered thanks to Trump during Wednesday’s news conference.

Perhaps those who questioned why Trump tweeted out an expectation of gratitude from the players while they were returning from China will now understand why. If he hadn’t asked, the thanks might not have arrived if LaVar Bell had anything to say about it.

It should also be noted that after getting the apology from the players, Trump tweeted his expectation that they would also thank Chinese President Xi Jinping. As far as I can tell, there is no visible evidence that the players have done this.

The establishment press has failed to note that LaVar Bell’s petulant statement to ESPN directly contradicts his attitude when TMZ caught up with him on Wednesday:

LAVAR BALL RETURNS TO U.S.: ‘We’ll Be Good’ with Trump

LaVar Ball tells TMZ Sports he expects to have an encounter with President Trump now that he’s back in the U.S. … and he expects it to go well.

“We’re gonna run into each other. We’ll be good,” LaVar said after touching down at LAX Wednesday night with his youngest son, LaMelo.

The Big Baller was clearly being careful with his words — and for good reason — since his son LiAngelo is still in the middle of an international incident after shoplifting in China.

Now that his kid is free and clear, Ball, as seen above, perhaps calculating that giving the President a compliment might hurt his precious Baller brand, has done a 180 on Trump.

It’s bad enough that LaVar Ball is an ingrate. It’s worse that he’s downplaying what his son did, as seen in this paragraph at the ESPN article:

“As long as my boy’s back here, I’m fine,” LaVar Ball told ESPN. “I’m happy with how things were handled. A lot of people like to say a lot of things that they thought happened over there. Like I told him, ‘They try to make a big deal out of nothing sometimes.’ I’m from L.A. I’ve seen a lot worse things happen than a guy taking some glasses. My son has built up enough character that one bad decision doesn’t define him. Now if you can go back and say when he was 12 years old he was shoplifting and stealing cars and going wild, then that’s a different thing.”

To be clear, as ESPN’s Markazi duly noted, it was a lot more than “a guy taking some glasses”:

The players were arrested and questioned on Nov. 7 about stealing from high-end stores, including sunglasses from a Louis Vuitton store next to the team’s hotel in Hangzhou, where the Bruins had been staying before leaving for Shanghai to face Georgia Tech.

UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero said Wednesday that the players stole from three stores.

Other press outlets are coming up just inches short of celebrating LaVar Bell’s dishonest defiance:

None of these outlets have had the integrity to directly say that LaVar Bell, having presented no contrary evidence, is lying. Guys, if you’re not going to do that, maybe we’d all be better off if you ignored him, which is what the Associated Press and the New York Times have done thus far.

Others in the media are anticipating and perhaps hoping for a protracted social media slugfest between Trump and Bell. One of them is Jeff Eisenberg at Yahoo Sports, who also believes that LaVar Bell’s petulance may cost his college ball-playing son dearly:

LaVar Ball’s comment about Donald Trump could spark quintessential 2017 feud

Instead of sending a pair of Big Baller shoes to Donald Trump as a thank you for his help persuading Chinese authorities to permit the UCLA three to return home, LaVar Ball did the one thing guaranteed to generate more attention for himself.

Ball downplayed Trump’s role in getting son LiAngelo Ball and two UCLA teammates back to the United States, perhaps laying the foundation for a feud between the sometimes thin-skinned Commander-in-Chief and basketball’s most boorish dad.

If this results in a war of words between LaVar and Trump, it will be the quintessential 2017 quarrel. The feud would also be laced with irony considering these two outspoken attention seekers are more similar than they would probably care to admit.

LaVar’s audacious comments will no doubt increase his public stature and awareness of the Big Baller Brand, but his defiant stance can only hurt his son. Not only is LaVar extending the incident’s run atop the news cycle, he also could be goading UCLA administrators into sending a message that this was a big deal by handing LiAngelo and his teammates a longer suspension.

Others anticipating a feud include Nick Schwartz at USA Today and Charlotte Carroll at Sports Illustrated.

Those expecting the mother of all social media slugfests may be disappointed to learn that Trump, at least for now, is leaving the pushback to his communications people. ABC News reports that “Trump’s social media director, Dan Scavino, tweeted Saturday that LaVar Ball ‘knows if it weren’t for President@realDonaldTrump his son would be in China for a long, long time.’”

It would be nice if reporters in the sports media would bluntly recognize this fact.

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1 Comment

  1. Of course the leftist MSM does this to cover the fact that feckless Obama NEVER intervened (at least to my knowledge) on behalf of American citizens held hostage by hostile governments around the world. Trump’s words to Xi of China and successful release underscores how feckless Obama really was and how he really didn’t give a crap about Americans.

    Worse yet for liberals, it humanizes Trump and gives lie to the Trump is Hitler narrative. Why would a racist (as liberals paint him) make any effort at all to secure the release of 3 black men???? Because he isn’t a racist, but we can’t have that, now can we… So belittle the effort by reducing it to name calling and disrespect. Trump should troll these guys every time they get in trouble with the law and ride that horse until they cry like the D lister, Kathy Griffin who can’t get a gig in the US anymore.

    Comment by dscott — November 20, 2017 @ 7:03 am

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