Every week, The Open Man’s Trenise Ferreira examines the topics around sports that are making us mad and asks: WHY THOUGH?
Did 45 Really Tweet About Himself in 3rd Person to Suggest the UCLA Basketball Players Needed to Thank Him?
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past week, you should know that the UCLA hoops world was rocked by a scandal when three basketball players were detained on charges of shoplifting while in China on a basketball trip. Those three players happened to be LiAngelo Ball – son of the LaVar Ball (you may have heard of him) – and two other dudes no one cares about because A BALL BROTHER WAS INVOLVED IN AN INTERNATIONAL INCIDENT.
I didn’t know that’s what Big Ballers do, but hey, you learn new things every day!
This whole ordeal was fascinating for several reasons, and I had many questions. How reckless and arrogant do you have to be to try and steal – A. in 2017 when Big Brother is always watching – and B. in Communist China? Would they have to go to Chinese jail? Would the American government have to intervene on their behalf?
OH GOD. Would the American government have to intervene on their behalf, creating a potentially incredible collision course between LaVar Ball and President Donald Trump?
Well, when all was said and done, there was no Clash of the Egos. Instead, the US government did its part to de-escalate the situation, and LiAngelo and his teammates returned home earlier this week. In a press conference on Wednesday, UCLA announced the players would be suspended indefinitely for their foolery.
But before the press conference – and right on cue, honestly – 45 hopped on the Twitters to speculate about if he would receive gratitude for his intervention:
Do you think the three UCLA Basketball Players will say thank you President Trump? They were headed for 10 years in jail!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 15, 2017
For the record, LiAngelo and his teammates each thanked Trump and the US government for the role they played in helping them get home. I have no doubt that they were directed by the powers that be at UCLA to do just that. But Trump doing what he does best – tweeting about the credit he believe he deserves – and usurping the press conference to interject those thoughts makes it appear as if UCLA acquiesced to his request.
And to be real, the players did need to extend their gratitude. Per reports, grand larceny in China can carry anywhere from a three to 10-year sentence. Had regular American citizens gone overseas and stole from three stores, they may not have gotten off so easily.
But for making the moment about himself, I am giving side eyes to Trump and just ask why, though? Why was it necessary? Why does it have to be like this?
And Speaking of Necessary…Let’s Talk About the Folks Fake Mad that LiAngelo’s College Career Isn’t Over for This
Trump tweeting about himself in third person and asking for a thank you is the least annoying thing about this whole situation. What is far, FAR more eye-roll inducing than that is all the people tweeting up a storm, mad as hell that UCLA’s punishment of LiAngelo and company wasn’t worse.
Case in point:
UCLA admits the kids shoplifted from three stores….yet suspension announced is only ”indefinite,” not guaranteed to last the season…UCLA didn’t answer questions, but one big questions..they know the crime, why not suspend for the season right now?…
— Bill Plaschke (@BillPlaschke) November 15, 2017
The way UCLA talked at the ”presser,” it was almost like the kids were rescued from China…these kids were lucky not to be in Chinese jail after shoplifting from three stores..three stores!…and they could still play for Bruins this year?
— Bill Plaschke (@BillPlaschke) November 15, 2017
ESPN’s Seth Greenberg yelled that LiAngelo Ball and his UCLA teammates accused of shoplifting in China “should not be able to play this year!” The players have now been suspended indefinitely. https://t.co/U3tH5FcL1w
— Awful Announcing (@awfulannouncing) November 16, 2017
And from just the general masses:
the other kids in the UCLA program should be suspended 2 games but LiAngelo Ball should be expelled because he’s involved in a “circus” =to BBB
— Martell Pegues (@_Martellin) November 15, 2017
Liangelo Ball needs to be suspended the whole season.
— j. (@JacobLeon_) November 15, 2017
If Liangelo Ball and the other two players aren’t suspended for more than 15 games, the NCAA needs to step in. Inexcusable, especially in another country. This is a HUGE deal.
— Nate Allen (@TweetsByNate) November 15, 2017
Be interesting to see what UCLA does… they should be suspended if not kicked out of school https://t.co/8hY5h50Ux3
— Beth Poole (@clemsonlady) November 14, 2017
Please, Twitterverse, clutch the pearls harder. Y’all are an absolute mess.
I mean yes, an argument can be made that UCLA should further punish the players. But let’s be real – those who want to see LiAngelo fall from grace want him to do so because they loathe his father. And really, their dislike of LaVar is just misplaced admiration for the ways in which he goes to bat for his sons, the way he’s involved and dedicated in their development (even if he does take things over the top) and the way he thinks his kids should reap the full benefits of their hard work.
I see no qualms with that kind of parenting, personally.
Save for this stupid decision, the Ball Brothers stay out of trouble. They keep to themselves. They aren’t the image of entitled athletes – like a Johnny Manziel, for example – who are careless in society. But no, because people can’t stand LaVar, so they want Lonzo, LiAngelo and LaMelo to fail.
To those “sports fans” who feel that way, I say: Are you big mad or little mad about this? Also, take an entire stadium of seats.
Why, though? How do you have the energy to be so mad about this? What else do you want to happen to LiAngelo? Would losing his scholarship be enough? Being kicked out of school? And look, I am all for punishments fitting the crime, but I also believe in grace and mercy. Give the kids a second chance, and if they continue to be stupid, then by all means give them hell. But their experiences in China coupled with however many games they will ultimately lose out on is just punishment, in my eyes.
And for real though, if you have time to be so bent out of shape about the punishment of a bunch of college basketball players – please reevaluate your life choices.