Angel Reese defended by rival Caitlin Clark and cousin Jordan Hawkins, UConn Player Champion

When Louisiana State University won the NCAA women’s basketball championship, star Angel Reese raised his hand and pointed his ring finger — because she was going to get a championship ring. Reese received criticism for the gesture, which was directed at his opponent, Caitlin Clark. Now Clark and others are defending her.

Reese also waved his hand in front of his face, known as the “can’t you see me” gesture made popular by wrestler John Cena. Clark had also made the gesture in a previous match during the tournament.

For some, these gestures were typical chatter between two rivals. But after Reese, who is black, made the gestures, some said she was unsportsmanlike – prompting her rival, her coach and another champion to come to her defense.

“I don’t think Angel should be criticized at all,” Clark told ESPN on Tuesday. “I’m just a competitor, and she competed. I think everyone knew there was going to be a bit of chatter the whole tournament. It’s not just me and Angel.”

LSU vs. Iowa
Angel Reese #10 of the LSU Lady Tigers reacts to Caitlin Clark #22 of the Iowa Hawkeyes during the fourth quarter during the 2023 NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament Championship Game at American Airlines Center on April 2, 2023 in Dallas, Texas.

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Much of the criticism was on Twitter, which Reese acknowledged during a press conference after the victory, saying “Twitter is going to rage every time.”

“All year I was criticized for who I was,” she said. “I don’t fit into the narrative, I don’t fit into the box you all want me to be in. I’m too ghetto. I’m too ghetto. You’ve all been telling me that all year. But when d ‘other people do it, and you don’t say anything.’

“So it’s for girls like me, who are going to stand up for what they believe in,” Reese said. “It’s you shamelessly. And that’s why I did it tonight. It was bigger than me tonight.”

Reese’s trainer Kim Mulkey also defended her. “She’s not going to apologize for that,” she said during an interview with “Today” on Monday.

“This kid is a beast on the bouncing boards. This kid just won a national championship. She’s not afraid of social media. That’s who Angel is,” Mulkey said. “She talks badly on the pitch, but she doesn’t really cross the line of vulgarity.”

Reese and her teammates aren’t the only ones receiving championship rings, as is her cousin, Jordan Hawkins.

Hawkins, who grew up in Maryland like Reese, won the NCAA Men’s Championship with UConn. After his team’s big win, he spoke to reporters and defended his cousin. “Angel has the heart of a lion, she doesn’t worry about any of that,” he said. “She’s from the dirty streets of Baltimore, so she’s the toughest of the toughest. It’s nothing to her.”

During a Tuesday interview on “Today,” he said Reese told him she was proud of him. “We both said we had to go home right away for the barbecue. I know it’s going to be crazy. The whole family is going to be there,” he said of celebrating their birthdays. victories.

After the win, Reese said she was proud to help grow women’s basketball. One thing she doesn’t want to change is which team can visit the White House. It is customary for the winning team to surrender, but first lady Jill Biden said she would suggest to the president that Iowa should be present too, “because they played such a good game.”

In a tweet, Reese called the idea a “joke.” And in his ESPN interview, Clark agreed that only winners should attend. “It’s for LSU,” she said on “SportsCenter.” “They should enjoy every second of being the champion. I think it’s up to them.”

“I don’t think finalists usually go to the White House. LSU should take advantage of this moment for them. And congratulations, obviously they deserve to go. Maybe I could go to the White House [someday] on different terms,” she said.

Iowa head coach Lin Bauer instead invited Ms. Biden to tour their arena.

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