Debate around LSU’s Angel Reese and Iowa’s Caitlin Clark gesturing even has Clark confused

In an interview with ESPN, Clark says she doesn’t think Reese “should be criticized at all … I competed; she competed” in the most viewed women’s college game in history.

LSU's Angel Reese (10) gestures toward Caitlin Clark during the fourth quarter of Sunday's NCAA championship game.
She may have lost the NCAA title, but, on Tuesday, it was Iowa’s Caitlin Clark who got to call game.

In a video interview on ESPN’s Outside the Lines, Clark spoke with host Jeremy Schaap about the game and the wealth of criticism aimed at LSU star Angel Reese.

“I don’t think Angel should be criticized at all,” Clark said. “No matter what way it goes … she should never be criticized for what she did. I competed; she competed.”

Much of the conversation since the Hawkeyes lost, 102-85, to LSU in the NCAA championship has not been on the game itself, but on the debate sparked online concerning a hand gesture Clark and Reese made during the tournament — a debate that centered on the difference between how white and Black players are discussed.

While some considered Clark a competitor when she did it, others viewed Reese’s exchange as “classless,” sparking further dialogue that some even viewed as race-baiting.

Reese, she’s suggested that the argument is less about the on-court antics between her and Clark, but about how Black athletes — specifically Black female athletes — are perceived.

“All year, I was critiqued about who I was. The narrative — I don’t fit the narrative. I don’t fit the box you all want me to be in. I’m too hood. I’m too ghetto … but when other people do it — you all don’t say nothing,” Reese said Sunday during LSU’s postgame press conference, alluding to Clark’s hand gesture, among other instances. “So, this is for the girls that look like me. That’s going to speak up for what they believe in. It’s unapologetically you and that’s what I did it for tonight. It was bigger than me tonight. It was bigger than me.”

First Lady Jill Biden also initially invited Iowa as well as LSU to the White House, an honor that historically only goes to the winner of championships.

It was a move many, including Reese, viewed as tone-deaf.

🤣🤣🤣A JOKE. https://t.co/9SiOKQNqbj

— Angel Reese (@Reese10Angel) April 3, 2023

Iowa’s invitation has since been rescinded, according to Biden’s press secretary, Vanessa Valdivia, and only LSU will head to Washington later this year.

That’s yet another move Clark noted should’ve been a given in the first place, telling ESPN, “I don’t think runner-ups usually go to the White House.”

Regardless of the aftermath, the game was a highly anticipated one, setting records as the most viewed women’s college game across any network, with an average of 9.9 million viewers. It also was the most viewed college event ever on ESPN+, according to ESPN’s statistics.

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