The worlds of sports and politics collided in the past week when President Donald Trump decided to begin a twitter feud with the exuberant founder of Big Baller Brand, LaVar Ball.
The situation began on November 7, when three UCLA basketball players were arrested in China for shoplifting a pair of glasses from a Louis Vuitton store. One of the three athletes happened to be LaVar’s son, LiAngelo Ball. He and the other two players were eventually released on bail and allowed to travel home after President Trump claimed to have spoken with Chinese President Xi Jingping about freeing the three.
“Do you think the three UCLA Basketball Players will say thank you President Trump? They were headed for 10 years in jail!” Trump tweeted just before the three young men arrived home and were set to hold a press conference. All three of the UCLA players did thank Trump in their press conference and it has since been reported that they were not in fact headed for ten years in prison and that they would have served at the very maximum two years. President Trump unashamedly seeking praise and exaggerating the severity of the charges in order to stroke his own ego is anything but shocking and while embarrassing in itself this whole situation easily could have ended there.
That is if it were not for LaVar Ball. LaVar has become the master of keeping his name in the headlines and promoting his company, though he is used to doing so by baiting sports personalities like Stephen A. Smith, not the leader of the free world. Somehow this time it was even easier for LaVar. He didn’t have to say he could personally beat Michael Jordan one on one, or that his son Lonzo is already better than two time NBA MVP Stephen Curry (both actual claims he has made). He simply responded to a reporter’s question about whether he was grateful for the President’s role in helping get his son home. LaVar responded with one word: “Who?” This single word was enough to set the President off who proceeded to tweet “Now that the three basketball players are out of China and saved from years in jail, LaVar Ball, the father of LiAngelo, is unaccepting of what I did for his son and that shoplifting is no big deal. I should have left them in jail!” LaVar said one word and the President felt the need to tweet about LaVar personally as well as insinuate that he regrets helping free the three UCLA basketball players. President Trump, not feeling he received enough credit actually said that he would rather have left American citizens stranded overseas.
LaVar got exactly what he wanted after this tweet when he got a full interview on CNN in which he defended his son and promoted Big Baller Brand. LaVar ended his interview with a message for the president, “Tell Donald Trump to have a great Thanksgiving, cause Big Baller is.”
LaVar was not wrong, Big Baller Brand did have a great Thanksgiving. Apex Marketing Group estimates that the Big Baller Brand has received $13.2 million in free advertising due to Donald Trump and LaVar’s feud. Along with all the exposure Big Baller Brand began shipping their first sneaker line the day after Thanksgiving, LaVar even offered to send a pair to the President “so he can calm down a little bit. For a man who has incessantly bragged about his business savvy Trump has fallen right into LaVar’s marketing web and given him the attention and publicity he sought.
During the election many Americans clamored to see a successful businessman in the White House, if this is bar set, could America soon be ready for a Big Baller presidency?
—Alec Downing, Volunteer Writer