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LaVar Ball’s CNN interview taught us close to nothing

The Big Baller dad’s interview went off the rails immediately

CNN invited LaVar Ball onto its CNN Tonight segment for ratings. Nothing more. Nothing less. Hate to break it to anyone who thought they were going to get any insight into what happened or, at the minimum, an even-keeled interview.

That was apparent when host Chris Cuomo couldn’t even clearly state that Ball’s son, LiAngelo, and his UCLA teammates Cody Riley and Jalen Hill were never actually in jail. In fact, all three players stayed inside a lakeside hotel for the duration of the legal process, which ESPN’s Arash Markazi reported would likely need a week or two to resolve. Cuomo said the potential punishment for shoplifting in China would be a three-year jail sentence.

Cuomo also insisted that Ball say thank you to President Donald Trump, even though Cuomo admitted that he didn’t know what Trump’s role was, if any at all, to resolve the situation for the three players other than personally speak to China’s President Xi Jinping.

I’m from Missouri – the Show Me State – and I need to see receipts that Trump did in fact help before I go out on a limb and tell the father of one of the kids that he should thank the president. I’m not just going to take someone’s word without doing the research to see if it all lines up.

With everything else going on in the country and the world, the president’s insistence that everyone know “he helped rescue the players” seems a bit troubling. Both Ball and former FBI director James Comey criticized Trump for his public cries for praise.

This whole thing got started when Trump tweeted about whether the UCLA players would thank him for his help in their return to the U.S. The players did indeed thank the president during a press conference at UCLA upon their return, and Trump tweeted they should also thank China’s president.

Well, Markazi decided to ask Ball about Trump’s intervention, and Ball responded, “Who?”

That bothered Trump, which resulted in tweets about Ball. Trump’s conclusion was that he should’ve left the three players in China, because Ball wouldn’t say thank you.

All of this led to Ball’s appearance on CNN, which quickly devolved into both men speaking over one another and not answering the questions.

My biggest takeaway from the 30 minutes Ball was on the air was Cuomo seemed more insistent that the viewer believe the president did something on the players’ behalf without evidence than conducting an interview that presented new information.

Ball didn’t expound on the president’s role in helping get his son out, so we’re not left with a great picture of what it took to get these young men back. But assuming or taking Trump at his word without proof or the facts to support such a narrative is dangerous and lazy.

The same energy that Cuomo came with assuming Trump, who gets his statements picked apart by fact checkers daily, did something is the same energy I need media members to come with when vetting his claims about a situation in which perception and framing matter tremendously.

Rhiannon Walker is an associate editor at The Undefeated. She is a drinker of Sassy Cow Creamery chocolate milk, an owner of an extensive Disney VHS collection, and she might have a heart attack if Frank Ocean doesn't drop his second album.