President Trump escalated his Twitter war with basketball patriarch LaVar Ball, calling him "a poor man's Don King" and an "ungrateful fool."
The Wednesday morning tweet blitz came as the two continued to feud over Trump's role in securing the release of one of Ball's three sons after he was detained in China, where the UCLA basketball player was held for shoplifting while on a tour of the nation. Ball has rebuffed Trump's demands for credit, saying it was Chinese President Xi Jinping who freed his son.
“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,” Trump tweeted early Wednesday morning.
LiAngelo Ball, Cody Riley and Jalen Hill have since returned to the United States, and expressed contrition for swiping Louis Vuitton sunglasses during an outing to Hangzhou. But not so for Ball, who Trump called “just a poor man’s version of Don King, but without the hair. Just think.”
“LaVar, you could have spent the next 5 to 10 years during Thanksgiving with your son in China, but no NBA contract to support you. But remember LaVar, shoplifting is NOT a little thing. It’s a really big deal, especially in China. Ungrateful fool!” Trump added in another tweet.
The comparison to King was curious, as the legendary boxing promoter is a staunch Republican and Trump supporter whose similarities to Ball are not readily apparent.
Ball unleashed a broadside at Trump in a Monday appearance on CNN.
“Did (Trump) help the boys get out? I don’t know. If I was going to thank somebody, I probably would thank President Xi. He’s in China. He’s the president of China,” he said. “I helped my son get out of China. I had some people that had boots on the ground that knew the situation.”
He also disagreed with Trump who called shoplifting “a very big deal in China,” claiming that he has seen “harsher things” here in the U.S.
“I’ve seen 16-, 17-year-old kids that have had to go to jail for life, that were my friends,” Ball said. “He wasn’t physical. He returned it. He fessed up to it.”
The Ball-Trump feud has been continuing since last week, reaching a peak on Sunday when Trump suggested on Twitter that the three basketball players should have been left in jail because Ball “is unaccepting of what I did for his son” and “very ungrateful!” after he refused to thank him.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.