The three UCLA basketball players are back. Fantastic. I’m glad that they’re home safe. I’m glad for them and their families. And I’m sad for humanity.

Because the scene at LAX was a joke. They were mobbed by paparazzi, journos, and plenty of  run-of-the-mill fools after they landed and walked out of the airport. Probably the same run of the mill fools who were cheering on the Juice on freeway overpasses during the Bronco chase.

That was a low point for humankind. And that’s not on the three players, that’s on everyone else who showed up at LAX to shout questions, take photos, and roll tape on three college kids accused of shoplifting.

If your reaction when you heard that they were flying out of China was to hop on Flight Aware or Flight View to track their plane and then plan your route to LAX so that you could get there in time to see them, then you need to seriously take a look in the mirror. And when you do, I’m guessing you might not like what you see.

If your job sent you over there, that’s one thing. If you just went as a spectator and did it as a hobby, maybe you went over there with a couple of friends, because you thought it would be “ironic” or funny” then you need new friends and new hobbies. Seriously, have some freaking pride and self-respect. And if were you glued to the TV watching every update with baited breath, you’re not much better, but at least you didn’t waste time in traffic and then parking in an LAX parking structure just so you could run out and get some shaky footage of three teens walking out of the airport. If you did that, that’s not funny or cool, that’s just sad.

There is absolutely no reason for their return to spark this level of response. These are not political prisoners or hostages. They’re college athletes who were arrested for allegedly shoplifting. Don’t get me wrong, there are few things I can think of that are dumber than getting arrested for shoplifting in China. But I’m not sure what’s dumber – getting arrested of shoplifting in China or rushing to the airport to see the dummies who got arrested for shoplifting in China… Tie for last.

Who’s the bigger loser? The teenager who created an international incident for shoplifting in China, or the guy who rushes to the airport to get a pic or an autograph with him?

Just like it’s not funny or wacky or zany that President Trump apparently got involved. I know the biggest cliché in the world is “surely the president has more important things to be doing,” but in this case, he really does have more important things to be doing than apparently having conversations about three UCLA basketball players. Just like he has more important things to be doing than tweeting “Do you think the three UCLA Basketball Players will say thank you President Trump? They were headed for 10 years in jail!”

And now it’s up to Steve Alford and UCLA to figure out the appropriate punishment for what’s happened. Frankly, I don’t care. I really couldn’t care less what they do. You want to make them do extra conditioning? Great. Make them run lines? Sounds good. Put them through the beep test every morning at 5am? Fantastic. Bench them for a couple games? That’s fine by me, too. Cancel the season? I’m good with that.

Because I’m not really sure that there’s a punishment that fits the alleged crime of shoplifting sunglasses and possibly other items in China and the actual crime of wasting everyone’s time with it.

The real victim here isn’t the Louis Vuitton store, it’s anyone who had to hear about this story and all the different possible outcomes. Whatever punishment Alford comes down with, I hope I never hear about it because I never want to hear anything about this ever again. We’ve already suffered enough.

Because whatever Alford does to these guys, and knowing Alford, not a damn thing, whatever he does to them, it still would never be nearly as harsh as what they’ve already put the rest of us through. Next time you see something nice, that you want, put down the cash. If you don’t have enough cash for the item, keep walking. It’s not that hard. And Alford should have taken 15 seconds out of that 15 hour flight to Shanghai to tell his 15 guys that, and maybe this whole thing could have been avoided.

Believe me, if UCLA knew this was how the Bruins were going to start this season, they would have never brought Alford back. Hell does anyone even know how they started the season? And whether or not they won that game they went to China to play? Hell, have they even played that game yet? I don’t know. And the reason I don’t is because of all this Louis Vuitton bullcrap.


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