All three players, LiAngelo Ball, Cody Riley and Jalen Hill, thanked Trump at a press conference in the US, but Ball's father Lavar, who is famous for being braggadocios, refused to give the president any credit.
President Trump said he raised the players' case with China President Xi Jinping while on his Asian tour earlier this month.
"I would also like to thank President Trump and the United States government for the help that they provided as well", Ball's son said in response.
Lieu's comments come after Trump tweeted that should have left the three college athletes in jail after one of the players' father downplayed Trump's role in the release. That is, after they were arrested in China for shoplifting.
In actual U.S. -China relations, Trump back-peddled on his strong anti-China campaign rhetoric, blamed Obama, took shots at "the failing New York Times", broke press precedent by accepting China's ban on questions and totally ignored human rights violations. Trump said on Twitter Sunday morning. Before they thanked Trump on Wednesday for intervening with Xi, Trump had wondered whether they would express gratitude to him.
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It's not totally clear what the exact circumstances of the players' release were, and when asked about the president's role, Ball told ESPN Friday: "Who?" "Like I told him, 'They try to make a big deal out of nothing sometimes.' I'm from LA. We really appreciate you helping us out".
The war of words continued Saturday following Ball's statement to ESPN when Trump's social media director, Dan Scavino, fired back at Ball on his personal Twitter account, saying Ball's son would be in China without the President's assistance.
Trump, a braggart and reality show star like Ball, did not take kindly to this.
Which somehow manages to both be accurate - Trump was making it a bigger deal - and totally cavalier about committing crimes in foreign countries - shoplifting in China is different than shoplifting in L.A.! "I've seen a lot worse things happen than a guy taking some glasses", he said. And, in the end, that's surely exactly what Ball wanted. All three players were suspended from the Bruins basketball team indefinitely.