(TMZ) LaVar Ball says he would've given President Trump a "thank you" had the Prez brought LiAngelo Ball and his UCLA teammates back home from China on Air Force One.

Ball appeared on CNN with Chris Cuomo Monday night to discuss the ongoing battle with Trump -- and to nobody's surprise -- LaVar held his ground in NOT thanking 45. Ball's main argument ... there's no proof Trump was the primary reason his son and teammates were sprung from the country.

There was one thing, however, that LaVar says would've granted the Prez an automatic "thank you" from father Ball ... a free ride home on AF1.

LaVar went on to say ... Trump's got bigger fish to fry, so let the UCLA thing go.

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