PALM BEACH, Fla. — President Donald Trump started off his first day of Thanksgiving vacation by resuming his taunts of the father of a UCLA basketball player detained for shoplifting in China, saying Wednesday that he was an “ungrateful fool.”
In a series of tweets fired off before dawn, the president complained yet again that LaVar Ball, father of LiAngelo Ball, hasn’t given him credit for the release of his son and two other UCLA basketball players from detention in China.
Tweeting from his Florida vacation home, Trump said: “It wasn’t the White House, it wasn’t the State Department, it wasn’t father LaVar’s so-called people on the ground in China that got his son out of a long term prison sentence – IT WAS ME.”
“Too bad! LaVar is just a poor man’s version of Don King, but without the hair,” he said, referencing the flamboyant boxing promoter whom Trump once saluted as “a phenomenal person” despite a conviction for manslaughter.
Trump also warned that Ball “could have spent the next five to 10 years during Thanksgiving with your son in China, but no NBA contract to support you” had it not been for his intervention.
“But remember LaVar, shoplifting is NOT a little thing. It’s a really big deal, especially in China,” he wrote.
LiAngelo Ball and two UCLA teammates were released after a brief detention in China while Trump was visiting the country. Trump has taken credit for the release, saying he discussed the situation with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
LaVar Ball, whose eldest son, Lonzo, plays for the Los Angeles Lakers, has repeatedly minimized Trump’s involvement in winning the players’ release, telling CNN earlier this week: “If I feel nobody did anything, I don’t have to go around saying thank you to everybody.”
Trump had previously said he should have left all three players in jail.
Trump on Wednesday also spoke out against the idea of keeping NFL players in the locker room during the playing of the national anthem as a response to some players refusing to stand to protest racial inequality and police brutality.
“That’s almost as bad as kneeling! When will the highly paid Commissioner finally get tough and smart?” Trump wrote. “This issue is killing your league!”