(CNN)The celebrity beef between Donald Trump and LaVar Ball was the most predictable thing in the world.
Donald Trump and LaVar Ball are perfect for each other
The difference is this one features an international diplomatic incident and Donald Trump just happens to be President.
Quick recap: Ball's son was among three UCLA students who now admit to shoplifting sunglasses from a Louis Vuitton store in Hangzhou, China. Trump, who was in China at the time, claimed credit for getting Chinese President Xi Jinping to let them out and helping them avoid years in jail. He demanded an apology on Twitter. He got an apology during a news conference featuring the players, who have since been suspended by UCLA. From the beginning, Ball had said the charges were no big deal. Then over the weekend Ball questioned Trump's role in getting them out. Now Trump says he should have left them in jail. And so on.
This type of controversy is like oxygen for both of these men.
Trump made his political career picking fights on Twitter and rejecting political correctness. At the same time he was attacking Ball, he was also attacking Oakland Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch and Arizona Republican Sen. Jeff Flake.
Ball has tried to turn his family name into a basketball brand on the talents of his three boys and his own brashness.
Trump likes to brag he's the greatest to do something, even when there is ample evidence to the contrary. One of the greatest memories of all time! One of to most successful administration's ever! The biggest electoral landslide! Crowd sizes! The list goes on. And he likes to pick fights on Twitter.
Ball, likewise, has elevated bragging about his sons (and himself) into an art form, especially where there is evidence to the contrary.
You have to wonder why LaVar Ball, who according to Bleacher Report averaged 2.2 points per game during his college career at Washington State in the late '80s, would say he could beat Michael Jordan with one arm tied behind his back.
No, you don't have to wonder. Ball says things like that to bait Michael Jordan into responding, which Jordan did.
That's the same reason Ball, who really wants you to buy the Big Baller Brand shoes he's selling for the not-so-bargain basement price of $495, keeps trying to compare his son to Steph Curry. Might the rookie Lakers point guard one day equal the Warriors superstar? Sure. He's not there yet. To say the least.
But say it over and over again. And then name a shoe after your high school aged son. And take the already price-inflated concept of basketball shoes. Charge double. The Ball bet is that people will buy it.
Where did LaVar Ball learn this type of trash talking? There's a solid working theory that he's applying the Trump method of politics to sports. Before the two men feuded over the weekend, back when Trump had only publicly demanded an apology from the three UCLA players (including Ball's second son, UCLA's LiAngelo), CNN's Hunter Schwarz included this section in his Cover/Line newsletter:
Imagine a Donald Trump v. LaVar Ball Feud:
Kate mentioned Trump's tweet about the UCLA basketball players this a.m. We're now all waiting to see if LaVar Ball, father of one of the players, LiAngelo, responds.
Ball is a bombastic brand-building father of three ball players, including Lonzo, who plays for the Lakers, and LaMelo, who's still in high school, and he's been described as the Donald Trump of sports by GQ in April ("He has embraced Donald Trump's playbook and is using it to perfection. In politics, that's a scary and worrying playbook. In sports? It's entertaining as hell. I wish more people treated sports as pro wrestling, because why not?") and Axios in May ("Donald Trump created the blueprint for building an avalanche of earned media momentum: be the loudest, most outrageous voice in the room. Generate buzz with confrontational statements, outsized self-promotion, and abundant charisma. Now we're seeing that strategy executed to a tee in a different habitat of the media ecosystem, and it could lead to more copycats.").
In hindsight, it was only a matter of time before LaVar Ball engaged Donald Trump to dispute the credit and thanks Trump wants for weighing in with the Chinese President.
This is the Trump era. No diplomatic incident would be complete without a sub-controversy to carry it into another few news cycles.