Angel Reese never forgot how Iowa Star Caitlin Clark mocked her colleague during Iowa’s win over Louisville in the Elite Eight last week, and she was determined to get her revenge.
As LSU cruised to an easy 102-85 win over Iowa in the women’s NCAA tournament championship game on Sunday, Reese finally got a chance to taunt March Madness star Caitlin Clark. As soon as the final whistle blew, Reese mocked Clark with the ‘you can’t see me ‘taunt that has been made very popular by ex-WWE Superstar John Cena. She quickly followed that up by pointing to her ring finger.
The week before, it was Clark who made the same gesture which also drew praise from the wrestler-turned-actor John Cena. During that game against Louisville, Clark arrogantly waved her hand in front of her face as she made a historic 40-point triple-double.
And on Sunday, Clark certainly played well and did her part to help the Hawkeyes keep pace with Louisville with her 30 points, but it was not enough. Reese, on the other hand, had 15 points and ten rebounds but also earned another accolade over Clark by being named the most outstanding player of the women’s NCAA tournament.
Said Reese, “I don’t care about anybody else and what they have to say about me.” she added, “That’s the difference between me and a lot of people. I don’t. The biggest goal for me is the national championship. I don’t care to be All-American. I don’t care to be defensive player of the year, player of the year. The biggest goal is to be a national champion, and that’s what I did.“
For her part, Clark appeared subdued and claimed that she honestly had no idea what transpired when asked about Reese’s taunt.
Many social media users were quick to call out Reese as “classless” for making the gesture with Iowa on the brink of defeat. Some of the viewers have been asking for Reese’s suspension for future games and/or academic penalties-but no such thing is going to happen because it was simply a highly charged emotional game between two great competitors. Following the game, Reese was adamant that the criticism is linked to who she is — and that is nothing new.
While social media was outraged at Reese’s conduct, she was having none of it. Reese said, “All year, I was critiqued about who I was. I don’t fit the narrative. I don’t fit in a box that y’all want me to be in. I’m too hood. I’m too ghetto. Y’all told me that all year. But when other people do it, y’all say nothing. So this was for the girls that look like me, that’s going to speak up on what they believe in.”
Even a Bigger Story
And the Reese and Clark fiasco has even gone beyond the basketball court and involved sports personalities and celebs, and sadly it has become a race issue. Keith Olbermann, without knowing the facts called Reese ‘a fucking idiot’ but later toned down his comment when he became aware that Clark had initiated the same gesture a week ago-but no one said a word. And following Olbermann’s insult, other black sports stars jumped in to support Reese. Actor Samuel Jackson made a spirited defense of Reese to his 9 million followers. And LeBron James also backed Reese.
Others who defended Reese on social media included LeBron James, former NBA star Atan Thomas and ESPN’s Holly Rowe. Said Rose on Twitter, “People hating on Angel Reese or Caitlin Clark. Stop. Unapologetically confident young women should be celebrated NOT hated. Get used to it.”
Former Washington Wizards and Atlanta Hawk player, Thomas made it more explicit, “Hold on now!!!! It was cute when Caitlin Clark did it. Y’all didn’t have any issues with it at all. So don’t be all outraged and talking about class and sportsmanship when Angel Reese does the same thing. We’re not doing double standards here.”
Between the name calling and use of vulgarities on twitter, most people forget that Reese was selected the MVP of the tournament or that LSU are NCAA champs- but sadly no one will remember that.
Through it all, Reese has had an excellent season averaging 23 points and 15.4 rebounds in her first season.
“Twitter can say what they want to say,” she said. “I love reading those comments. I have all the screenshots of what everybody has said about me all season. What are you going to say now?”
How did this acrimony start?
Well, it appears Clark may have invited the payback on Sunday. On Friday night, she followed up on her ‘you can’t see me’ taunt in the Elite Eight with a boisterous wave off to South Carolina freshman guard Raven Johnson during the Final four showdown. On Sunday, LSU’s Alexis Moore did call out Clark for her arrogance and disrespect for Johnson on defense.
Reese did admit that Clark is a “hell of a player” but said she was just waiting for her moment to get even. She said in the postgame interview on ESPN, “I don’t take disrespect lightly.”
With this being LSU’s first national championship, Reeese was over the moon and had no apologies about her gesture to Clark ending with the finale, ‘I was in my moment.’
Trash talking is common in every sport and just accepted as part of the game. These individuals play at a professional level and usually are not affected by what the media or fans say. The key is that if you are going to trash talk, you better back it up on the court or it will backfire.