AceShowbiz - Caitlin Clark assures that she has no hard feelings for Angel Reese after the latter taunted the former during the 2023 NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament championship game. In fact, the Iowa Hawkeyes player has defended the LSU Tigers star amid the backlash over Angel's gestures at the Sunday, April 2 game.
Just days after the national title game, Caitlin appeared on ESPN's "Outside the Lines" and talked about the controversies which sparked due to Angel's moves. "We're all competitive. We all show our emotions in a different way," the point guard said on Tuesday afternoon, April 4 during an interview with Jeremy Schaap.
Having nothing but good words for Angel, the 21-year-old praised her opponent, "Angel's 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. Even the whole LSU team, the way they played. I don't think there should be any criticism for what she did."
Caitlin admitted that she "didn't see [Angel's gestures] when the game was going on" and she hasn't "been on social media at all" since the game. She, however, blamed gender double standard for the criticism, saying, "I think men have always had trash talk. That's what it's been, and I think more and more people, as they turn on the game, they're appreciating it for what it is."
"I'm just lucky enough that I get to play this game and have emotion and wear it on my sleeves, and so does everybody else," she continued. "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 what draws it to the pro level, to college level, to the high school level. You should be able to play with that emotion. That's what makes it so fun."
She further supported players showing their emotions on the fields, arguing, "Either way, it doesn't matter. Nobody wants to tune in and see it not be competitive and passionate about what they're doing. I believe that's how it should be. That's how I'm gonna continue to play. That's how every girl should continue to play."
Basketball Hall of Famer and NBA analyst Charles Barkley has also weighed in on the debate, calling it "unfortunate" because it draws the attention from the performance. "Well, I thought it took away from the game," the former professional basketball player said on Monday. "In fairness, Caitlin did that in a game before. I just thought it brought too much attention away from a great performance because she's amazing."
"And you got all these fools on the internet and on television, who, well, first they gonna make it about race, which is part of it," he added. "They deserve to celebrate. I thought it was unfortunate because people are talking more about that than they are about a great performance."
Angel previously defended herself for taunting Caitlin with the John Cena "you can't see me" taunt as she walked past the Iowa point guard. "I don't fit in the box that y'all want me to be in," the 20-year-old said during a post-game media session. "I'm too hood, I'm too ghetto. Y'all told me that all year. But when other people do it, y'all don't say nothing. So this was for the girls that look like me."
In other news, Angel once again responded to Jill Biden's wish to invite both the winning and losing teams to the White House. "I just know if the roles were reversed, it wouldn't be the same," she said on "I Am Athlete" after previously tweeting, "WE NOT COMING." She added, "If we were to lose, we would not be getting invited to the White House."
Angel went on questioning if the First Lady attended the game to support both teams or if she was solely rooting for Iowa to win. "Last night, San Diego State lost. I didn't see her say, 'Oh, San Diego State is coming as well.' That's weird to me," she pointed out.
Meanwhile, the White House seemingly tried to walk back the First Lady's comments. "The First Lady loved watching the NCAA women's basketball championship game alongside young student athletes and admires how far women have advanced in sports since the passing of Title IX," the First Lady's Press Secretary said on social media.
Explaining FLOTUS' statements, the White House staffer added, "Her comments in Colorado 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."