Controversial College Basketball Star Rejects Jill Biden's 'Apology' and Invitation: 'We'll Go to the Obamas'
LSU basketball star Angel Reese continued to slam first lady Jill Biden on Tuesday for suggesting Iowa — the team the Tigers beat to win the national championship Sunday — should join LSU for the traditional champions’ visit to the White House.
And although no apology was issued, Reese rejected one anyway.
The sophomore forward was named the most outstanding player of the NCAA women’s tournament after she helped propel the Tigers to a 102-85 win over Iowa in the title game.
Reese also became the vortex of controversy when, in the final moments of that game, she taunted Hawkeyes star Caitlin Clark with pro wrestler John Cena’s “You can’t see me” hand motion and made a show of pointing to the ring finger on her right hand to indicate that she would be wearing a national championship ring.
Social media erupted over her actions, with many describing her as “classless” while others pointed out Clark had done the Cena gesture earlier in the tournament.
Jill Biden stepped into the discussion Monday, saying during an event in Denver, “I know we’ll have the champions come to the White House; we always do. So, we hope LSU will come. But, you know, I’m going to tell Joe I think Iowa should come too, because they played such a good game.”
After a fiercely negative reaction on social media — including a tweet from Reese calling the idea “A JOKE” — Biden press secretary Vanessa Valdivia said Tuesday the first lady’s remarks had been misunderstood.
“Her comments in Colorado were intended to applaud the historic game and all women athletes,” Valdivia said on Twitter. “She looks forward to celebrating the LSU Tigers on their championship win at the White House.”
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.
— Vanessa Valdivia (@vvaldivia46) April 4, 2023
During a podcast appearance Tuesday, Reese elaborated on her disdain for Biden’s idea.
“If we were to lose, we would not be getting invited to the White House. And I remember she made a comment about both teams should be invited because … it was sportsmanship. And I’m like, ‘Are you saying that because of what I did?'” she said, putting her hand to her face in the repetition of one of the gestures that ignited the controversy.
“Stuff like that, it bothers me, because you are a woman,” Reese said. “At the end of the day, white, black, Mexican — it doesn’t matter. You’re a woman. You’re supposed to be standing behind us before anything. So it’s hard to see things like that and not to comment back on it.”
“Nobody’s giving her grace right now,” she said of Biden. “Trust me. Nobody’s giving her grace. And that’s why she’s trying to backtrack on what she said.”
Angel Reese on Jill Biden inviting both LSU AND Iowa to the White House:
“I just know if the roles were reversed, they wouldn’t be the same. If we were to lose, we would not be getting invited to the White House.”
Subscribe for more #PaperRoute 📰 → https://t.co/psv6vVha0h pic.twitter.com/ApHYnhWOe5
— I AM ATHLETE (@IAMATHLETEpod) April 4, 2023
The LSU star said she has better places to go than the Biden White House.
“I’m not gonna lie to you, I don’t accept the apology,” she said, apparently taking Valdivia’s statement as an apology.
“I said what I said, and like, you can’t go back on certain things that you say. You felt like they should have came because of sportsmanship, right? They can have that spotlight. We’ll go to the Obamas, we’ll see Michelle, we’ll see Barack,” Reese said, referring to an idea suggested by teammate Alexis Morris.
“We’ll go to the Obama’s. We’ll see Michelle. We’ll see Barack.”⁰⁰LSU Women’s Basketball star Angel Reese doesn’t accept First Lady Jill Biden’s apology 😬
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— I AM ATHLETE (@IAMATHLETEpod) April 5, 2023
She also said Jill Biden was due to visit both teams before Sunday’s game, but LSU rejected her.
“Apparently she was supposed to come to our locker room before the game, but we said no … we said no,” Reese said.
“She was supposed to come to our locker room and go to Iowa’s locker room. I don’t know if she talked to them. I don’t know if she did. But we said we didn’t want to — we didn’t want her to come to the locker room.”
Asked why, Reese said President Joe Biden had snubbed the Tigers in his tournament predictions.
“I think Joe Biden had put somebody else to win the national championship,” she said. “He ain’t even put us on his bracket to get out of Baton Rouge, so I was like ‘bet.'”
The president’s bracket had LSU losing to Michigan in the second round.
Good luck to every team in this year’s NCAA tournament.
I’ve got Arizona in the men’s tournament and Villanova in the women’s – and as you know, in this household, Villanova always wins. pic.twitter.com/iILzABTCuo
— President Biden (@POTUS) March 16, 2023
Meanwhile, Clark rejected the role of outraged victim.
“I don’t think Angel should be criticized at all,” the Iowa star said on ESPN’s “Outside the Lines.
“No matter which way it goes, she should never be criticized for what she did,” Clarks said. “I’m just one that competes, and she competed. I think everybody knew there was going to be a little trash talk in the entire tournament. It’s not just me and Angel.
“So I don’t think she should be criticized, like I said. LSU deserves it. They played so well. And like I said, I’m a big fan of hers.”
“I don’t think Angel should be criticized at all.”
Caitlin Clark said she thought Angel Reese received too much backlash for her celebrations during the championship game. (via @OTLonESPN) pic.twitter.com/i8tZyO8bai
— ESPN (@espn) April 4, 2023
Iowa coach Lisa Bluder had indicated she was not going to press the first lady to make good on the off-the-cuff invitation.
“I gratefully acknowledge the First Lady’s sentiments, but a day at the White House should belong solely to the champion, LSU and Coach Mulkey,” she wrote on Twitter. “We would welcome the First Lady and President to come to Iowa’s ‘House’ – Carver Hawkeye Arena — any time!”
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