This is kind of hilarious and pretty much typical.
So remember an incident from last year, involving 3 freshmen basketball players from UCLA, LiAngelo Ball, Jalen Hill and Cody Riley?
The three young men were in Hangzhou, China as part of a team event, when they were nabbed for shoplifting sunglasses and beaded bracelets from several stores, including the Louis Vuitton store.
While their teammates flew home to the U.S., Ball, Hill, and Riley stayed behind in China.
The way the press played it out, President Trump made the call, pulled some strings, and got the young men home.
Of course, he then went on to demand his thanks.
Ok. Thanks, Trump.
The young men did eventually thank the president for his intervention in a press conference, but the father of one, LaVar Ball (a bit of a pot stirrer, by nature, it seems) actually scoffed at the need to thank Trump, and it set off one of those tedious war of words that Trump has become known for.
The players were encouraged to and did thank Trump, if only to “not create another story by not thanking him,” ESPN reported, but LiAngelo’s father LaVar Ball is not one to avoid stories. Days later, when he got in front of a microphone, LaVar said when asked of Trump’s involvement, “Who? What was he over there for? Don’t tell me nothing. Everybody wants to make it seem like he helped me out.”
It seems rather ungracious, given that the president made the effort to get his child home, doesn’t it?
Here’s the thing: Trump didn’t actually do anything.
A new report is clearing up the details of the release of those young men, and it’s kind of embarrassing, considering Trump’s insistence that he be thanked.
As it happened, 12 hours after their arrest, the three ball players were released, but their passports were withheld, after returning the items. They were not restrained, and were free to move about.
In the meantime, UCLA and Pac-12 officials worked with Alibaba chairman Tsai, as well as the Federation University Sports China to resolve the issue.
They came to a compromise:
Two days later, on Friday, Nov. 10, the shoplifting charges against Ball, Hill and Riley were dropped, the bail was returned, and their passports were released on one condition, the report said. The players, now embroiled in reports of an international incident, were not permitted to leave for Los Angeles until Tuesday, a week after their arrest and three days after their UCLA teammates returned home.
“It was important for [Chinese authorities] that the players were left back for a couple of days after the rest of the team flew home,” a UCLA source told ESPN. “We agreed not to say anything and not comment until they returned home. They wanted there to be some kind of punishment and avoid the perception that they got off easy. Their flights were switched from Saturday night to Tuesday night, so they were going back home 72 hours after the rest of the team. So, it wasn’t like we found out Tuesday morning they were coming home that day. We knew. That was already the plan Friday morning.”
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly reached out to UCLA on November 12 to tell them President Trump was optimistic of his chances of getting the young men released. That was awesome, except everyone (other than the White House) already knew what was going to happen. It had already been worked out.
“The situation was already resolved by the time we heard about Trump’s involvement,” a source told ESPN. “That’s not to take away from the fact that he got involved, but the players already had their passports back and their flights booked to go home Tuesday night when Gen. Kelly called the players.”
Why this is coming out now is unclear, but it’s pretty ludicrous that Trump made such a big deal out of being given credit for basically doing nothing.