University of Iowa star basketball player Caitlin Clark praised LSU's Angel Reese despite Reese's taunting gestures toward her in the women's national championship game Sunday — and added that only LSU as the champions should visit the White House.
What are the details?
Clark — winner of this year's Wooden Award for the best women's college basketball player — appeared on "SportsCenter" Tuesday and was asked about Reese's taunting gestures, ESPN reported.
Reese waved her hand in front her face at Clark — a way of saying "Can't see me!" — and also pointed at her ring finger to signify a championship. Reese later suggested it was payback for Clark making the "Can't see me!" gesture against South Carolina in their Final Four contest.
Others didn't see it that way. Former ESPN anchor Keith Olbermann called Reese a "f***ing idiot" for her behavior, after which NBA Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal ordered Olbermann to "shut your dumb a** up" and to "leave Angel Reese alone."
Later Olbermann said both Reese and Clark "were wrong" and added that "Reese was named MVP of the tournament, and nobody will remember that, nor the LSU crown, just the fact that women's hoops has now achieved parity with the men: its stars can be classless winners who are willing to overshadow their own team's victories."
But Clark had nothing but praise for Reese during her interview with ESPN's Jeremy Schaap.
"I don't think Angel should be criticized at all," Clark said, adding that "I'm just one that competes, and she competed. I think everybody knew there was going to be a little trash talk in the entire tournament. It's not just me and Angel."
Clark also said, "We're all competitive. We all show our emotions in a different way. You know, Angel is a tremendous, tremendous player. I have nothing but respect for her. I love her game — the way she rebounds the ball, scores the ball, is absolutely incredible. I'm a big fan of her and even the entire LSU team. ... They played an amazing game."
She added, according to ESPN: "I'm just lucky enough that I get to play this game and have emotion and wear it on my sleeve, and so does everybody else. So that should never be torn down. That should never be criticized because I believe that's what makes this game so fun. That's what draws people to this game. That's how I'm going to continue to play. That's how every girl should continue to play."
That Jill Biden controversy
Adding more fuel to the fire, first lady Jill Biden got an earful from Reese and NFL Hall of Famer Shannon Sharpe for stating that both LSU and Iowa should get White House invitations — a novel suggestion since traditionally only champion teams get such invites.
"I know we'll have the champions come to the White House; we always do. So we hope LSU will come," Biden said Monday, according to ESPN. "But, you know, I'm going to tell [President] Joe [Biden] I think Iowa should come too, because they played such a good game."
Reese ripped Biden's unorthodox invite suggestion with a succinct tweet Monday night, calling it "A JOKE" and adding a trio of laughing emojis:
Sharpe on Tuesday's edition of Fox Sports' "The Undisputed," which he co-hosts with Skip Bayless, said that the first lady "needs to sit down" in the wake of her comments.
Sharpe, who is black, added that "the people that won ... look like me, and the people that lost look like [Biden], now we're gonna invite the runner-up!"
UNDISPUTED | 'A JOKE' Shannon sounds off on Jill Biden & said she needs to sit downyoutu.be
Early Tuesday morning Jill Biden's press secretary appeared to walk back the first lady's words regarding an Iowa invite to the White House, saying that "her comments ... were intended to applaud the historic game and all women athletes. She looks forward to celebrating the LSU Tigers on their championship win at the White House."
Clark says only LSU should go to White House
When asked about the Jill Biden controversy, Clark was emphatic that only LSU should go to the White House.
"That's for LSU," Clark said, according to ESPN. "... They should enjoy every single second of being the champion. I think that's theirs to do. I don't think runner-ups usually go to the White House. LSU should enjoy that moment for them. And congratulations, obviously; they deserve to go there. Maybe I could go to the White House [someday] on different terms."
Clark added, according to the sports network: "I just want to inspire young boys and young girls to be able to dream and do the same things that I have done. I was just that young girl. I looked up to WNBA players, NBA players, college athletes, even other pro sport athletes. All you have to do is dream, work really hard and be surrounded by really, really good people that believe in you, too."
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