Trump calls father of freed basketball player an 'ungrateful fool'

President complained that LaVar Ball, father of LiAngelo Ball, hasn't given him credit for the release of his son

US basketball player LiAngelo Ball takes part in his first training session in Prienai, Lithuania, where he will play for the Vytautas club on January 5, 2018.
Basketball-crazed Lithuania welcomed LiAngelo and LaMelo Ball, the two youngest sons of flamboyant Los Angeles entrepreneur LaVar Ball who recently made headlines due to a feud with US President Donald Trump. / AFP PHOTO / Petras Malukas
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United States president Donald Trump started off his first day of Thanksgiving vacation on Wednesday by resuming his taunts of the father of a UCLA basketball player detained for shoplifting in China, calling him an "ungrateful fool."

In a series of tweets fired off before dawn, the president complained again that LaVar Ball, father of LiAngelo Ball, has not given him credit for the release of his son and two other players after they were accused of shoplifting while in China for a basketball game.

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, in reference to 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 5 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 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 in Beijing.

Trump had previously said he should have left all three players in jail because LaVar Ball had not thanked him publicly for his intervention.

The president also retweeted a post from Joey Mannarino, a US-born radio host living in London, who echoed the statement: "The ungratefulness is something I've never seen before. If you get someone's son out of prison, he should be grateful to you. Period. I don't care. If Hillary got my kid out of prison, as much as I hate the woman, I'd thank her corrupt ass."

LaVar Ball, whose eldest son Lonzo plays for the Los Angeles Lakers, has repeatedly minimised 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." All three players have been suspended from the team.

Trump is spending the holiday at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, where he stressed he'll be "having meetings and working the phones" and not just vacationing.

Trump 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!"