Iowa’s Caitlin Clark has defended LSU rival Angel Reese for the gestures she made in the NCAA women’s basketball championship final that went viral.
Reese made wrestler John Cena’s infamous ‘you can’t see me’ gesture towards Clark when the Tigers were about to close out a 102-85 victory and secure their first title. She also pointed to her finger to indicate the championship ring she was about to get.
ANGEL REESE TO CAITLIN CLARK 😳 pic.twitter.com/2NY0CEzwJ3
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) April 2, 2023
The first gesture was a call-back to when Clark did it earlier in the tournament but when Reese did it, she copped a lot of backlash on social media.
After the game, Reese highlighted the double standard she was being held to, one which centered around race because Clark is white and Reese is black.
“All year I was critiqued about who I was,” Reese told the media. “I’m too hood, I’m too ghetto, y’all told me that all year,” she said. “When other people do it, y’all don’t say nothing … So this is for the girls that look like me. For those that want to speak up for what they believe in … It was bigger than me tonight. And Twitter is going to go into a rage every time.”
In an interview with ESPN on Tuesday, Clark said criticism of Reese was uncalled for and went on to explain the amount of admiration she has for her opponent.
“I don’t think Angel should be criticized at all,” said Clark. “I’m just one that competes, and she competed. I think everybody knew there was gonna be a little trash talk in the entire tournament. It’s not just me and Angel.
“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.
“Men have always had trash talk … You should be able to play with that emotion … That’s how every girl should continue to play,” Clark added.
Both players had a very successful tournament, as Reese recorded a double-double in the final and was awarded the Most Outstanding Player at the Final Four.
Clark had the game high score (30 points) and earlier in the tournament had two 40-point triple-doubles. The 21-year-old was also named the 2023 John R. Wooden Award, and took out the other four major National Player of the Year awards to boot.
The Iowa-LSU game certainly caught people’s attention. It was the most watched women’s college basketball game of all time in America, averaging 9.9 million viewers – up 103 percent from the same game last year.