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LeVar vs. LaVar: One starred on ‘Reading Rainbow.’ The other’s feuding with Trump

Actor LeVar Burton, left, and former college basketball player LaVar Ball.
Actor LeVar Burton, left, and former college basketball player LaVar Ball.

What’s in a name, anyway?

A lot — at least on the Internet.

Prime example: Actor LeVar Burton was just going about his business Wednesday, but then — wham! — out of the blue, the “Roots” star began to get trolled.

It seems social media users are mistaking Burton for another LaVar, who spells his first name with an “a,” and happens to have a very different last name. That would be Ball, as in LaVar Ball.

The two men have very little in common.

Burton, 60, is a Hollywood veteran, who rose quickly to fame as a newcomer in 1977 by starring as slave Kunta Kinte in the classic miniseries “Roots.” He went on to host in the beloved PBS children series “Reading Rainbow,” and costar as blind officer Junior Grade Geordi La Forge in TV’s “Star Trek: The Next Generation.”

Ball, 50, is a former basketball player who has nothing to do with acting. He is, however, quite the showman. The Big Baller Brand CEO made headlines last year after bragging that he could beat Micheal Jordan one-on-one and that his eldest son, Los Angeles Lakers guard Lonzo Ball, is better at hoops than NBA star Steph Curry.

Ball also has another son on the rise in the sport, UCLA freshman guard LiAngelo Ball. Young LiAngelo got himself into a bit of a jam earlier this month when over in China with his team for a cultural trip. He, along with two other players, were arrested on suspicion of shoplifting from a Louis Vuitton store near the team’s hotel in Hangzhou.

Dad at first said the incident was no “big deal,” then released a statement about the allegations.

“It is a very unfortunate situation that the Ball family and UCLA has to deal with at this particular time.”

Fortunately, President Donald Trump, who was just over in Asia to talk trade and other issues, helped smooth out the situation.

On Monday, Ball spoke to CNN’s Chris Cuomo about the incident, and telling the host he needn’t thank Trump for the assist (POTUS tweeted that he felt under-appreciated by papa Ball).

OK, so back to poor LeVar Burton, who, after the interview, starting to get strange messages online.

New York Twitter user @ljd22655, who says she is an attorney and registered nurse, wrote, “I understand that @levarburton would have been thankful if @POTUS flew his son home on Air Force 1 because that is exactly what he deserved!”

Let’s watch those @ handles, folks. Because spellcheck won’t pick up that kind of stuff.

Wednesday morning, Trump went on the attack:

“It wasn’t the White House, it wasn’t the State Department, it wasn’t father LaVar’s so-called people on the ground in China that got his son out of a long term prison sentence - IT WAS ME. Too bad! LaVar is just a poor man’s version of Don King, but without the hair. Just think.”

The tweet rage continues:

“LaVar, you could have spent the next 5 to 10 years during Thanksgiving with your son in China, but no NBA contract to support you. But remember LaVar, shoplifting is NOT a little thing. It’s a really big deal, especially in China. Ungrateful fool!”

Another Twitterer @kglass1957 agreed that Burton, not Ball, was “very ungrateful!”

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