The NCAA Championship game was not without its charismatic personality favorites as Louisiana State University battled University of Iowa yesterday in Dallas. The LSU Tigers beat the Iowa Hawkeyes 102-85 for the title, but for Baltimore County, it’s all about the connection to LSU’s Angel Reese.
Reese is a Randallstown native, who went to University of Maryland, but transferred to LSU to play for Kim Mulkey. The Baltimore area still runs through her veins, though, which for her, is a point of pride.
None of this would be an issue, of course, had the sports world not dished out the double standards it does, both for women’s sports and for Black women in particular.
The backstory is simple. Iowa’s Caitlin Clark was lionized as an “elite trash talker,” and her profile as such rose as Iowa advanced during March Madness.
2 days ago ESPN produced a segment called ‘Caitlin Clark: Queen of Clap Backs 👑’. The focus; her clapping, “You’re down 15 points. Shut up,” and of course the “you can’t see me” hand wave.
Her “trash talk” was embraced and celebrated. It wasn’t stigmatized and pathologized. pic.twitter.com/7Upyw475ze — L E F T, PhD ⚫️ (@LeftSentThis) April 3, 2023
Everyone thought it was baller when Clark pulled the “You can’t see me” wave during the Elite Eight.
Caitlin Clark hit the “YOU CAN’T SEE ME.” 🤯
pic.twitter.com/P63jHIm5yU — WSLAM (@wslam) March 27, 2023
Bleacher Report thought it was hilarious when she didn’t even bother guarding a shot.
Caitlin Clark didn't even bother guarding the shot 😅 pic.twitter.com/oIOl23aNE0 — Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) April 1, 2023
Nobody was upset when she told a Louisville player, “You’re down by 15 points. Shut up.”
“You're down by 15 points. Shut up."
Caitlin Clark during the Louisville game👀
pic.twitter.com/gvrduIFbAM — Just Women’s Sports (@justwsports) March 28, 2023
Finally, many concluded happily, some swagger and passion is acceptable on the court for women’s sports.
Not so fast. LSU brought some Baltimore to the championship game, and suddenly the internet was offended by such displays.
Reese, who talks trash with the best of them, gave Clark a taste of her own medicine, complete with a handwave and an additional pointing to her ring finger when they were about to clinch the title. Suddenly folks on the internet considered trash talk extremely unbecoming.
The negativity and abuse directed at Reese, who is Black, came mainly from white people, and white men in particular.
Dave Portnoy, creator of Barstool Sports, rebuked Reese:
Classless piece of shit https://t.co/e2qo7g5iXi — Dave Portnoy (@stoolpresidente) April 2, 2023
Sports and political commentator Keith Olbermann had this to say:
What a fucking idiot https://t.co/C8dW0tukfP — Keith Olbermann (@KeithOlbermann) April 2, 2023
“Classless” was trending on Twitter as of the writing of this article.
Black Twitter users pointed out the discrepancy, the racism, the misogynoir, and the sexism that only seemed to pop up once a Black woman dished taunts back to a white woman.
Waiting Keith for you to have the same energy for Caitlin. Waiting…. pic.twitter.com/8vxZq67Uir — GivePeaceAChance (@ThirdRail44) April 2, 2023
Even Shaq and Samuel L. Jackson came to Reese’s defense.
Thanks for reminding us what Lil Dick Energy actually is, Keith!!! — Samuel L. Jackson (@SamuelLJackson) April 3, 2023
shut your dumb ass up leave angel reese alone. — SHAQ (@SHAQ) April 3, 2023
Although Olbermann partly walked back his original tweet, neither he nor Portnoy apologized to Reese. Instead, Olbermann expressed regret for “being uninformed,” seemingly about the fact that Caitlin Clark had also been trash talking, then going on to pronounce that “both were wrong.”
I apologize for being uninformed last night about the back story on this. I don't follow hoops, college or pro, men or women. I had no idea about Clark. Both were wrong.
This is what I said in today's Countdown podcast. 2nd segment, about 24 minutes in: https://t.co/JDYjXBrkWy pic.twitter.com/0E1HxZyv2I — Keith Olbermann (@KeithOlbermann) April 3, 2023
Meanwhile, Clark has not expressed the slightest concern or consternation about Reese’s trash talking. She said she didn’t even see Reese’s gesture.
Here’s Reese talking about how she’s going to be herself, regardless of the criticism lobbed her way:
“This was for the girls that look like me, that’s going to speak up on what they believe in, that’s unapologetically you.”
"I don’t fit in 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. When other people do it, y'all don't say nothing. This was for the people that look like me." – Angel Reese ❤️👑
pic.twitter.com/fOKfDJGm9f — WSLAM (@wslam) April 3, 2023
At least we have Mike Leslie, local Dallas broadcaster, defending both women for their athleticism and their trash-talking.
Caitlin Clark is a grown woman. She doesn't need your protection.
Angel Reese is a champion. She doesn't need, or deserve, your derision. pic.twitter.com/HTOFYgCr4s — Mike Leslie (@MikeLeslieWFAA) April 3, 2023
Reese will continue to call her Baltimore roots to the forefront, as she should, and locals learning about her connections to their hometown are thrilled to have new reasons to stan her.
She summed it up best all the way back in January.
“I’m too hood”. “I’m too ghetto”. I don’t fit the narrative and I’M OK WITH THAT. I’m from Baltimore where you hoop outside & talk trash. If it was a boy y’all wouldn’t be saying nun at all. Let’s normalize women showing passion for the game instead of it being “embarrassing”. 😃 — Angel Reese (@Reese10Angel) January 20, 2023