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  • Writer's picturePhilippe Henold Buteau

Now they're balling out of control

When a brand is so tarnished more tarnish doesn't look like it's any more tarnished. Trump being Trump is already there. I hope the Balls don't get there.

But it seems like any kind of publicity might be worth a lot. So what someone does and say for the sake of their name making money says a lot about them.


If you're unfamiliar with the feud between LaVar Ball and Donald Trump here's a quick primer. LiAngelo Ball, LaVar's son, was in China with the University of California Los Angeles Bruins men's basketball team. While there, LiAngelo and two other players shoplifted Luis Vuitton sunglasses from a store near their hotel. The Chinese government and police took their passports and put them under travel restrictions. There are reports suggesting the players could have faced up to 10 years of jail, but "in stepped Trump."

That's when Trump began to be Trump.

And since he's a white supremacist, Trump being Trump is white supremacy being white supremacy.

He did speak to Chinese President Xi Jinping. But experts of Chinese law say the players would most likely have been deported had Trump done nothing.

And how does LaVar Ball feel about the situation? He feels his thanks should go more to the Chinese president and he doesn't have to thank everyone if he feels they didn't do anything.

Now, LaVar doesn't have to do anything. His son apologized (most likely because officials from UCLA made the players do so), and that's all that was needed. If I were a UCLA official or one of the players' parents I'd also make them apologize. What bothers me is the second part of LaVar's response to CNN's Chris Cuomo: "I don't have to go around thanking everyone." Yeah, we do.

Thank Trump? No, or maybe sarcastically. Thank Jinping? Maybe a minimal thanks if he did something small.

But if someone did something, "I don't have to go around thanking everyone," shouldn't be the response. We were raised better than that. And I don't think it's a good look.


But, there's a $13 million wrinkle. When doing or saying something counter to how we were raised allows us to get or maintain a lot of money, power or both do we do it?

According to reporting from ESPN, the Big Baller Brand company received more than $13 million in advertising value during the Thanksgiving weekend.

Meanwhile, Big Baller Brand continues to benefit from the fallout from LiAngelo's China trip. LaVar Ball's ongoing feud with President Donald Trump is estimated to have given the company more than $13 million in equivalent advertising value, according to a sponsorship evaluation firm.

This puts on its head the idea that there is no "bad publicity." The idea that if they're talking about you it's better than not because at least someone is talking about you.


But why are they talking about you? I'm with the defiance to the white supremacist-in-chief. Ball absolutely doesn't have to say anything to the guy that wants credit for how China set up its (foreign) criminal justice system. He absolutely shouldn't stay silent. Our adage trumps their cliche. "Staying silent is siding with oppression" > "if you've got nothing nice to say, it's better not to say anything." We have to tell them how we feel even if it could get us hurt; otherwise we're accepting their words and/or actions.

But "I don't have to go around thanking everyone" should have been left out. Who cares if you're balling, is what I disagree with.

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