Trump To The Rescue! Wait What?
Don’t let the title fool you, in no way is Trump the hero the US deserves (or the one it needs for that matter). However, one semi-heroic act this week is worth taking a look at. (Please proceed to read on)
On November 7th, Liangelo Ball and two other UCLA basketball players (Cody Riley, Jalen Hill) were arrested in China after allegedly shoplifting sunglasses from Louis Vuitton store close to the team’s hotel.
About 20 police officers stormed into the team’s hotel (Hyatt Hangzhou) at about 8 in the morning and interrogated Georgia Tech and UCLA players for hours. The team’s coaches weren’t even allowed into the rooms. There are also reports that these officials used strong interrogative methods, with some saying they were threatening to not let the players leave the country until the truth was told.
The Bruins were preparing to open the NCAA season(College basketball) by playing against Georgia Tech in Shanghai on Friday the 10th. While the game proceeded, the 3 arrested players did not participate.
While this may seem like petty crime (which it is), China has completely different laws than the US and according to some sources (i.e. Lawyers), it is possible to be detained for up to a month before being charged with the crime that was committed. That’s not even the worst part.
If you are convicted for the crime, you could be facing 3-10 years in prison. To add salt to the wound, the conviction rate in China is 99%.
UCLA was ‘fully aware of this incident involving student athletes’ and was ‘cooperating fully with local authorities on this matter’.
Outspoken father of Liangelo, Lavar Ball commented ‘He’ll be fine’ and ‘Everyone’s making it a big deal. It ain’t that big a deal’
However, William Nee, a Hong Kong-based researcher of the Chinese court system for Amnesty International commented on the matter, ‘I would say they could be in quite a bit of trouble if they have solid proof that they shoplifted,'.
And of course, a few days later, surveillance footage of the alleged incident was provided.
Why does this matter?
That’s a good question, they’re just college students right? No.
Maybe if it were 3 random college players, there wouldn’t be as much media attention.
However, Liangelo Ball is at the centre of attention. Here are some of the reasons:
- He is the brother of LA Lakers point guard and No.2 Pick Lonzo Ball
- His younger brother Lamelo drew national attention by dropping 92 points in a game
- His father Lavar ball has frequently promoted his sons to the media
- Lavar also created Big Baller Brand, their family sportwear brand. The ZO2 (Lonzo’s signature shoe) costs $495 while the MB1 (Melo’s signature shoe) costs $395
- Lavar has also made bald claims that in his ‘hayday’ he would beat Michael Jordan 1-on-1 and that his son Lonzo is better than Steph Curry
- Lavar also predicted that Lonzo would lead the Bruins to a national championship last year and when they were eliminated in the round of 16, he blamed Lonzo’s white teammates
And on top of all of this, he is still a good basketball player, likely to be drafted into the NBA. Obviously a jail sentence would likely hinder his potential basketball career.
So how does Trump fit into this?
President Trump ‘personally’ asked Chinese President Xi Jingping to help resolve this issue during his state visit last week.
Xi reportedly said he would “look into the case and ensure the players are treated fairly and expeditiously.”
Speaking to reporters on Air Force One on the way back, Trump confirmed this.
‘What they did was unfortunate. You know, you’re talking about very long prison sentences. [The Chinese] do not play games.’
“[Xi] was terrific, and they’re working on it right now,” Trump continued. “And hopefully everything is going to work out. And I know they’re very grateful because they were told exactly what happened. But it’s a very, very rough situation with what happened to them.”
And funny enough, the players were allowed to return to the US (after being given reduced charges)
However, the Chinese government have not confirmed Xi Jingping’s direct involvement stating that ‘Chinese police would have handled the case in strict accordance to the law’
Trump then proceeded to send out a tweet asking if they would thank him for his help.
The players proceeded to thank the efforts of the US government and President Trump for bringing them back. However they are now suspended from playing games for now.
In an unlikely manner, Trump replied on Twitter with encouraging words of wisdom.
So what does this tell us?
1. Trump saved the careers and lives of 3 college basketball players
2. The Trump-Xi bromance blossoms
3. China is susceptible to US influence?
In some ways, this may appear to show Trump acting like a true president, personally intervening to save 3 young men’s lives whilst offering genuine adult advice.
But this shouldn’t in any way make Trump a so called ‘hero’. This was small on his part and does not take away from what he has done in the past and what he might do in the future.L