Louisiana State University secured its first national title in women’s basketball after defeating the University of Iowa, on Sunday, led by Angel Reese. But not everyone was happy with how the Bayou Barbie celebrated the win she earned with her teammates.
Reese, 20, was called out for “taunting” the opposing team by using John Cena’s signature “you can’t see me” hand wave and tapping the accomplished finger that would soon be sporting a championship ring. She walked behind her opponent as she did so, making sure her rival got the message that the LSU Tigers were going home with an extra accessory.
The backlash to the gestures poured in swiftly with many labeling Reese “classless” for taking a bold approach to claiming victory.
Reese is a collegiate athlete, not a diplomat. It’s not her job to cater to the feelings of the person she is trying to dominate. Sports inspire passion. The actions of fans and athletes alike range from the delightfully excited to the borderline criminal. It’s the nature of the beast. Trash talk is benign compared to what requires authorities to grease poles to prevent people from burning down their city over the success or failure of helmeted strangers.
Reese was not the only player guilty of throwing shade on the court. The Hawkeyes and the Tigers previously faced off in the elite eight, where Iowa guard Caitlin Clark hit Cena’s gesture after knocking down several Tiger’s attempts at three-point shots.
Cena himself even expressed approval after the moment went viral. The consensus was that Clark was bringing the necessary bravado to spark interest in the sport. But when Reese did the same, she was slammed.
Dave Portney, founder of Barstool Sports’, made headlines when he harshly criticized Reese, spawning responses from former athletes, journalists, and sports anchors like Shaq, and Jemele Hill. NewsOne ‘Front Page’ cover star issued a stern ‘F–k you to Portney. And Shaq clapped back with, “and so is your mother.”
Clark defended Reese on Sports Center. “I don’t think she should be criticized at all,” she said before adding, “everybody knew there was going to trash talk the entire tournament, it’s not just me and Angel.”But Portney’s hot take had already done it’s damage. People called her heinous stereotypes, and some went as far as to question her intelligence. But Reese didn’t trip because she knew it was coming and was prepared.
Reese, who predicted this scenario on Twitter, refused to crumble under public scrutiny. She acknowledged what was happening and affirmed her right to be her full self on and off the court on social media and in interviews.
“All year, I was critiqued about who I was. … I don’t fit the narrative. I don’t fit in a box that y’all want me to be in. I’m too hood. I’m too ghetto. Y’all told me that all year. But when other people do it, y’all say nothing,” Reese said at a press conference.
Double standards frequently victimize black women. Others get to be passionate and committed, while we get called stubborn and aggressive. But while my fellow elder millennials and I spent years crying foul over misogynoir Gen Z is calling bullshit from the jump. They have no patience to prove what they know to be true. They accept that the world is racist and fight to uplift themselves and each other in public instead of waiting for establishments to celebrate them.
Reese didn’t need sports announcers to love her in that moment. She knew Black Twitter was going to ride.
“So this was for the girls that look like me, that’s going to speak up on what they believe in. It’s unapologetically you. That’s what I did it for tonight. It was bigger than me tonight. It was bigger than me,” she continued.
Reese and her teammates continued to dominate the news cycle, today, when they declined First Lady Jill Biden’s invitation to the White House, hoping instead for former FLOTUS Michelle Obama to invite them over to her house.
Reese flexed on her rivals like many have done before her and will after. She stood ten toes down on her greatness even when the world tried to put an asterisk on her accomplishment.
The fact that she managed to do this without fear of how it would impact the perceptions of people who would never give her the benefit of the doubt anyway, was just another W.
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