Two days after LaVar Ball, father of detained UCLA player LiAngelo Ball, downplayed President Donald Trump's role in the return of three UCLA men's basketball players detained in China, the president fired back.
LiAngelo Ball, brother of Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball, was one of the three UCLA basketball players detained in China on suspicion of shoplifting before Trump helped return them to the United States. In a Sunday morning tweet, Trump criticized LaVar Ball for being "unaccepting for what I did for his son."
"I should have left them in jail!" Trump added.
Rep. Adam Schiff of California, the top Democrat on the House intelligence committee, retweeted Trump's tweet and included his own comment.
"The President would have left American students in a foreign jail because their families didn't lavish sufficient praise on him," Schiff wrote. "How can someone in such a big office be so small?"
Freshman LiAngelo Ball was detained along with Jalen Hill and Cody Riley nearly two weeks ago and returned last week after Trump said he had a long conversation with Chinese President Xi Jinping about the incident.
At a press conference after their return, all three players had individually thanked Trump, and initially, Trump seemed to acknowledge the players' gratitude.
"To the three UCLA basketball players I say: You're welcome, go out and give a big Thank You to President Xi Jinping of China who made ... your release possible and, HAVE A GREAT LIFE! Be careful, there are many pitfalls on the long and winding road of life!" Trump said in two tweets.
However, by Sunday remarks LaVar Ball made on ESPN Friday caused the president to change his tune.
LaVar Ball had seemingly diminished Trump's role in getting the three players back home when he spoke on the sports network.
"What was he over there for? Don't tell me nothing. Everybody wants to make it seem like he helped me out," LaVar Ball said. "Like I told him, 'They try to make a big deal out of nothing sometimes.' I'm from LA. I've seen a lot worse things happen than a guy taking some glasses," he said.
All three UCLA players have been indefinitely suspended from the team, coach Steve Alford said. They will not travel with the team or suit up for home games.
"They will have to earn their way back," Alford said.