A debate is taking place on social media over whether the father of a basketball player detained in China should acknowledge the US president’s efforts in his son’s release.
Days after three US athletes were released from detention in China on shoplifting charges, Donald Trump has lashed out at the father of one them for belittling his role in securing their freedom.
UCLA basketball players LiAngelo Ball, Cody Riley and Jalen Hill admitted stealing sunglasses from a shopping centre in Hangzhou.
The students were freed after Mr Trump raised the issue with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping. Later the president tweeted: “Do you think the three UCLA Basketball Players will say thank you President Trump? They were headed for 10 years in jail!”
But despite the gratitude Mr Trump received from the players at a press conference following their release it was the lack of appreciation from LiAngelo Ball’s father that offended the president.
“Who?” Lavar Ball replied when asked about Mr Trump’s intervention in an interview with ESPN on Friday. “What was he over there for? Don’t tell me nothing. Everybody wants to make it seem like he helped me out,” he said.
Those remarks did not go down well with POTUS and he made his disappointment clear on Twitter:
“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,” President Trump tweeted. “I should have left them in jail!”
Many who were outraged by the president’s demand for gratitude took to social media to accuse him of being petty.
“I should have left them in jail is not what a president should say about American citizens. You work for us, not the other way around” posted one Twitter user.
Democrat Senator Adam Schiff also blasted the president:
While others believed the president was attacking black Americans again.
“With the Ball tweets, Trump is combining two of his favourite race themes: black people are criminals, black people are ungrateful.” tweeted journalist Daniel Dale.
Another posted: “Trump attacks Barack Obama, then Colin Kaepernick, then Frederica Wilson, & now it’s LaVar Ball. All black folks. But White Supremacists & Nazis are ‘fine people.’ Interesting.”
President Trump has previously criticised NFL players who fail to stand for the national anthem.
Colin Kaepernick first sat down during the US national anthem in August 2016, before opting to kneel instead, in protests against racial injustice.
Last month congresswoman Frederica Wilson was involved in a war of words with Mr Trump after she accused him of insensitivity during a phone call to the widow of fallen soldier Sgt La David Johnson.