In a recent development, First Lady Jill Biden seemed to backtrack on the idea of inviting both the women’s basketball teams of Louisiana State University (LSU) and Iowa to the White House, following objections from Tigers’ standout player, Angel Reese, who dismissed the proposal as “a joke” earlier this week.
During a speech on Monday, Mrs. Biden extended her congratulations to both teams for their impressive performance in the national championship game held on Sunday. Additionally, she specifically commended Iowa for their outstanding sportsmanship on the court.
During an event held at the Colorado State Capitol in Denver, First Lady Jill Biden shared her experience attending the NCAA women’s basketball championship held the previous night.
She expressed her anticipation for the national champions to visit the White House, a traditional honor extended to the victors. Biden mentioned hoping that the Louisiana State University (LSU) team would attend, but also believed that Iowa should also be invited due to their exceptional performance.
However, LSU star player Angel Reese took issue with Biden’s comments and tweeted a link to the story, calling it “A JOKE” along with three laughing emojis. In response to a post on Instagram, Reese affirmed that the team would not be attending the White House.
The press secretary to the first lady, Vanessa Valdivia, attempted to clarify Biden’s remarks the following day, stating that her intention was to celebrate the achievements of all women athletes and the historic game.
Valdivia added that Biden looked forward to congratulating the LSU Tigers on their national championship victory during their visit to the White House.
Reese, who played a pivotal role in the LSU Tigers’ triumph over the Iowa Hawkeyes, was named the Most Outstanding Player of the women’s NCAA tournament.
Before the clarification was issued, ESPN host Stephen A. Smith had concurred with Reese’s statement, acknowledging that Biden’s comments were inappropriate.
Representative Troy Carter, a Louisiana Democrat, concurred with Angel Reese’s sentiment, calling the proposal to invite the runners-up to the White House a “bad suggestion.” Carter added that it was not customary for the runners-up to be invited and that it made no sense to change it now.
He further emphasized that the LSU Tigers’ historic victory should be celebrated singularly, given their record-breaking score of 102-85 in the NCAA women’s basketball championship.
Alexis Morris, Reese’s teammate, asked if they could celebrate their victory at a different location, specifically at former First Lady Michelle Obama’s residence. Reese responded to Morris, affirming her suggestion.
Following the Tigers’ triumph, head coach Kim Mulkey stated that she would accept an invitation to visit the White House, should it be extended to the team.
According to sports broadcaster ESPN, the national championship game held on Sunday attracted a record-breaking average of 9.9 million viewers, making it the most-viewed NCAA Division I women’s college basketball game on record across all networks.
The game’s viewership peaked at 12.6 million viewers, indicating the high level of interest and enthusiasm surrounding the event.
‘I’m too hood’
After LSU’s victory, Reese has been making headlines, especially for calling out the double standard in the reaction to her gesture towards Iowa guard Caitlin Clark.
During the game, Reese approached Clark and moved her open hand in front of her face, a gesture popularized by WWE star John Cena, which signifies “you can’t see me.” Reese then pointed to her ring finger, which some interpreted as a reference to the championship ring that she had just won.
However, Clark had made a similar gesture to another player earlier in the tournament, which sparked much debate on social media. While some criticized Reese for her actions, others defended her, pointing out the lack of public outrage in response to Clark’s gesture.
During the post-game press conference, Reese highlighted the difference in reaction she received as compared to Clark.
She talked about how she had been critiqued all year for not fitting into the stereotype that people expected her to fit into. Reese stated, “I don’t fit the 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, and y’all don’t say nothing.”
Reese also spoke about how her gesture was for girls who looked like her and wanted to speak up for what they believed in.
She wanted to show that it was okay to be unapologetically oneself, which is what she did that night. Reese acknowledged that her gesture was bigger than herself and that people on Twitter were going to rage about it.