There’s dumb and then there’s dumb, and I’m not quite sure what I mean by that yet, except that apparently LiAngelo Ball and two other UCLA men’s basketball players may be both kinds of dumb, after reports of their being arrested in China on shoplifting charges just days before Friday’s season-opening game against Georgia Tech in Shanghai.
ESPN’s Jeff Goodman identified Ball, who is the younger brother of the Los Angeles Lakers’ Lonzo Ball, and freshman players Cody Riley and Jalen Hill as the players who were taken into custody.
According to the report, UCLA released a statement saying: “We are aware of a situation involving UCLA student-athletes in Hangzhou, China. The university is cooperating fully with local authorities on this matter, and we have no further comment at this time.”
ESPN was unable to get into immediate contact with UCLA head coach Steve Alford or Ball’s father, LaVar.
According to ESPN, a source said that some 20 police officers swarmed into the Hyatt Hangzhou at around 8 a.m. local time Tuesday and spoke to several players from Georgia Tech and UCLA. The source said that the players were kept in a room for hours and were not permitted to speak to any of their coaches.
“They weren’t messing around,” the source told ESPN. “The kids were scared.”
The Georgia Tech players were ultimately permitted to leave the room hours later, but the UCLA players were loaded into a police vehicle around 1 p.m. local time.
Georgia Tech released its own statement to ESPN on Tuesday, confirming that three of its players were questioned by authorities.
“During the questioning, it was determined that Georgia Tech student-athletes were not involved in the activities being investigated,” Georgia Tech said in the statement. “They have resumed their scheduled activities in advance of Saturday’s season opener versus UCLA in Shanghai.”
Clearly, details are scant, and it is still not clear what exactly happened. One might hope (like really, really hope) that this was all one huge misunderstanding.
But if Ball and the others did have something to do with the alleged shoplifting, they are hella dumb. Why would anyone take that kind of risk in a foreign country, where the legal system is unfamiliar? Why would anyone risk something like that at all?
Can’t y’all just enjoy a trip to China, play some ball and come home with a dope cultural experience?
Read more at ESPN.