On Monday night, CNN’s Chris Cuomo took on a difficult task: Interviewing talker-in-chief LaVar Ball about his son’s arrest in China and the role – or lack thereof – that President Trump played in the release of LiAngelo Ball as well as two other UCLA basketball players. LaVar Ball – as is his reputation – let fly some doozies about Trump and, well, almost everything else too.
Below, my favorite 39 lines from the self-described “Big Baller.” (You can check out the full transcript – and it is looooooong – here.)
1. “It’s not like he was in the US and said, OK, there’s three kids in China, I need to go over there and get them? That wasn’t the thought process, right?”
This is the logic that allows Ball to justify not thanking Trump for helping to secure the release of his son and two other players. Trump was already in the middle of a pre-planned trip to Asia. It’s not like he flew over there to save LiAngelo Ball alone! He just talked to the president of China about it! I mean, I guess?
2. “I don’t have to say, to go around saying thank you to everybody.”
Boom. Nailed it.
3. “You come around and shake my hand, and meet me, or meet my son, or anybody and then say you know what, maybe I can help you out.”
LaVar Ball is willing to say “thank you” to someone. But only if he meets you in person and/or shakes your hand.
4. “Just because people say things, you know, that’s supposed to be true, like hey, I stopped him from serving ten years. Maybe we were doing some talking with other people before he even got there.”
Ball suggests here that the three UCLA players were going to get out even before Trump called Chinese President Xi Jinping to ask for their release. Ball said much the same on Friday when asked about Trump’s role in the release. “Who?,” he said of Trump.
5. “I don’t have – no doubts about what he did. I got doubts about what he didn’t do.”
So, wait. Ball doubts what Trump didn’t do? That would mean he doesn’t have doubts, right?
6. “If I’m coming to get you out of trouble, you best believe I’m going to take you with me.”
Trump left China without LiAngelo Ball, a major mistake in the eyes of Papa Big Baller.
7. “I didn’t say nothing about him. I didn’t say nothing about him.”
Uh….see numbers 1-6 above, LaVar.
8. “It’s just somebody ask me a question and I gave a lot of confusion to you.”
I read this sentence 5 times. I still have no clue. Neither did Cuomo who followed this Ball quote up with “it’s a lot of confusion to me.”
9. “Why is it confusing? Are you concerned?”
In an instant, Ball goes on offense against Cuomo – for some unknown reason. Ball and Trump – as has been pointed out ad nauseam – do have a lot in common in terms of their approach to the media and coverage. One of the biggest shared approaches is to see everyone as a threat and pick fights with people so you can play offense at all times.
10. “Somebody can make a suggestion and somebody could do something. You have people that make suggestions you got people that do things.”
Ok, so. The LaVar Ball world is divided between “suggesters” and “doers”? Or something?
11. “Why are we talking about this with all these political matters going on in the world?”
I mean, you did agree to come on TV to talk about it….
12. “I’m just saying when you go over there what are we talking about.”
I think Ball means that Trump already being in China means he doesn’t deserve credit for helping free LiAngelo. Emphasis on “think.”
13. “I know exactly what I said. But you buffered it up like you said that you don’t want to say thank you to nobody.”
14. “I know you’re trying to add tone to it because that’s what you do.”
And now Ball is back to attacking Cuomo! “Tone”! Read the transcript. I don’t think Cuomo is offering any “tone” at all.
15. “I had some things done, I talked to some people that did some things, too.”
This is my favorite Ball quote of the entire interview. It is unbelievably Trumpian.
16. “If you want something, and you want it, you shouldn’t just go and steal it.”
So, so true. And wise. Wise and true!
17. “You can to Africa and somewhere and do the same thing anywhere you go in someone else’s country, yes, it’s going to be a little deeper than what you thought it was.”
Your guess is as good as mine. Genuinely.
18. “I’m asking you, I’m asking you. Did he do it?”
Cuomo had asked Ball several times if he had paid the bail to get the three UCLA players out of jail. This was the most direct “response” Cuomo got to that question – Ball asking the anchor if Trump paid for the bail. (SPOILER ALERT: He didn’t.)
19. “Why would I hide for nothing?”
I ask myself this question every morning.
20. “It may seem like I’m ducking, but I don’t duck nobody.”
This is Ball’s response to Cuomo’s question of whether Trump helped the UCLA players get out of jail. Amazing.
22. “I don’t even tweet.”
The world weeps.
23. “Let him do his political affairs and let me handle my son and let’s just stay in our lane.”
LaVar Ball and Donald Trump may well be the two people on Earth least able to stay in their lanes.
24. “Somebody asked me a question, man. I give him my opinion, but I am not taking a shot at the president.”
Under this logic, if someone asks you a question and you use that question to take a shot at someone, you are not actually taking a shot at them because you were asked a question. Got it? Good!
25. “I’m not the other guys, though. I’m not the other guys. I’m doing something else. I’m not the other guys.”
Truer words were never spoken.
26. “Can you say thank you, Mr. LaVar Ball?”
27. “Give me a couple of reasons why you’re thanking me.”
It’s about here that things go totally off the rails. Actually that may have happened earlier. Like at the start of the interview.
28. “You don’t say thank you like any kind of word.”
LaVar Ball has many thoughts on the proper usage of the phrase “thank you.”
29. “My title is LaVar Ball, the big baller, the CEO of the Big Baller Brand.”
I can’t tell if these are tears of joy or sadness. But, either way, I’m crying.
30. “But the Chinese people were like, you know what, he’s OK. He has so much character in 18 years that he’s allow to have a pass for that.”
The Chinese people drew that conclusion about LiAngelo Ball? Man, that was fast!
31. “I just say ‘who’ to anything.”
“Who” is a good default response when anyone says anything to you.
32. “I don’t like people talking to me.”
33. “Are you Trump’s brother? You want me to thank you?”
This is next-level stuff here by Ball.
34. “LaVar didn’t say thank you to the president.”
Third person-ing like crazy here.
35. “Did you thank the doctor for bringing you into this world? Well, you better go back and find him. Because you lucky.”
36. “I like how you keep saying my whole name, man.”
“My title is LaVar Ball, the big baller, the CEO of the Big Baller Brand.” – LaVar Ball
37. “My friends call me Mo. You can call me Mo.”
I am cheating a little since this is a Cuomo quote not one from “the big baller.” But, it’s so good I had to include. Sidebar: My friends call me “Mr. Cillizza.”
38. “Chrome-Mo like Google. Like the Google Chrome.”
39. “Tell Donald Trump to have a great Thanksgiving, because big baller is.”
This feels like a good place to end. Right? Right.