Angel Reese’s postgame comments draw support as well as critiques

LSU women’s basketball star Angel Reese is once again back in the spotlight after a dramatic NCAA tournament game against Caitlin Clark’s Iowa squad.

Reese received heavy criticism following the national championship game when, in the closing seconds of LSU’s victory, she looked in Clark’s direction and pointed to her ring finger, signifying that she was about to win a title and Clark was not. Though Clark herself said she had no issue with the taunting, the incident created a firestorm of controversy.

Reese touched on that criticism, as well as the general online abuse she has faced, in the wake of the Tigers’ national title run following LSU’s season-ending loss to Iowa in the Elite Eight on Monday. 

“I’ve been through so much,” Reese told reporters. “I’ve seen so much. I’ve been attacked so many times, death threats, I’ve been sexualized, I’ve been threatened, I’ve been so many things, and I’ve stood strong every single time.

“All this has happened since I won the national championship, and it sucks, but I still wouldn’t change anything, and I would still sit here and say I’m unapologetically me. I’m going to always leave that mark and be who I am and stand on that.”

However, “SPEAK” co-host Emmanuel Acho said Tuesday in what he called a “gender-neutral and racially indifferent” take that Reese should not have played the victim after fouling out of the 94-87 loss to Iowa on Monday.

“You can’t act like the big bad wolf, then cry like Courage the Cowardly Dog,” Acho said. “Because if you want to act grown, which she has, if you want to get paid like you’re grown, which you are, if you want to talk to grown folks like you’re grown, which you did postgame when you told a [UCLA] coach, ‘Watch your mouth,’ if you want to tell people ‘Get your money up,’ then postgame when you take an L, you’ve just got to take it on the chin.

“Nobody mourns when the villain catches an L. And Angel Reese, you are self-proclaimed to be the villain. Shout out to you, because you were the second-best basketball player on the court and it was not close. Outside of Caitlin Clark, it was you. Seventeen [points] and 20 [rebounds] — dawg. Showed up, second-biggest game of your career, absolute dawg. But you can’t under any circumstance go to the podium and now try to ask for individuals to give you sympathy. No one has sympathy for the villain. You painted the bullseye on your back, why are you surprised when people shoot at you?” 

Angel Reese postgame vs. Iowa: ‘I’ve been through so much’

Angel Reese postgame vs. Iowa: 'I've been through so much'

Acho’s “SPEAK” co-host Joy Taylor pushed back on his take, saying that Reese’s trash talk was being held to a different standard than that of male athletes.

“She was being herself and bragging the same way that all athletes brag when they win, when they hit a big shot,” Taylor said. “I’ve seen it a million times. But we don’t talk about them the way we talk about Angel Reese.”

Taylor said that there is a way in which Reese was expected to act, and she clearly violated that, judging by the reaction to her ring-finger gesture towards Clark last year. She also said that just because she now anticipates the online reactions to things she said as a sports media personality does not make those reactions any easier to deal with.

“We ask for a lot of authenticity from players,” Taylor said. “We ask for the real. We ask for emotions. … But then when we get that, ‘Don’t do that. Be the person that we put you up here to be.’ She didn’t make herself the villain. She showed up unapologetically herself the way men do all the time.”

“Is she weak, or is she having a new experience? It’s great to brag and then stand on it, but everyone didn’t assign themselves the villain role. … If we want authenticity, we cannot then immediately persecute it.”

2008 NBA Finals MVP Paul Pierce knows what it’s like to be on a sports mountaintop and pay the price of fame, and he said Tuesday on “Undisputed” that he empathizes with Reese.

Angel Reese emotional after LSU’s loss: “I’ve been attacked so many times”

Angel Reese emotional after LSU's loss: "I've been attacked so many times"

“This is what success is,” Pierce said. “When she won the national title last year and pointed to the ring [finger], she became famous. She became known. When you’re on top of the sports world, things are magnified and success is at times hard to handle. As a young athlete, as a woman in this game, things are thrown at you that you don’t expect. But that’s what comes with it. And I understand she can bottle those things up and you can’t see it day-to-day because she’s their leader and she has to portray herself a certain way, so it was very refreshing to hear her come out to be humanized.”

While “First Things First” host Nick Wright also empathizes with Reese, he had some strong words of advice for her and others her age, including two of his own children, based on his own experience on social media.

“You gotta log off,” Wright said. “And I’m not blaming Angel Reese at all. But those death threats, the sexualization, I bet 98% of it if not 100% of it did not come from her walking down the street and someone saying it to her. It is people who live in her phone who are terrorizing her.”

Wright doubled down on his comments on the latest episode of his “What’s Wright,” urging Reese and those with that level of fame to never “read the comments.”

Nick shares advice for Angel Reese and others on handling negative comments | What’s Wright?

Nick shares advice for Angel Reese and others on handling negative comments | What's Wright?

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