Caitlin Clark jumped to Angel Reese’s defense during an interview with ESPN’s Outside the Lines on Tuesday (April 4). Clark insisted that the criticism Angel faced after taunting her wasn’t warranted and her actions shouldn’t be “torn down.” Later in her defense of the new world champion, Iowa’s star athlete argued that men have taunted on the court for years and that playing with emotion should be encouraged.
“I don’t think Angel should be criticized at all,” Clark said. “No matter which way it goes, she should never be criticized for what she did. I’m just one that competes, and she competed. I think everybody knew there was going to be a little trash talk. It’s not just me and Angel. I don’t think she should be criticized, like I said. LSU deserves it. They played so well. Like I said, I’m a big fan of hers.”
“I think men have always had trash talk. I think that’s what it’s always been. I think more and more people, as they turn on the game, are appreciating it for what it is. I’m just lucky enough that I get to play this game and have emotion and wear it on my sleeves. So does everybody else. That should never be torn down. That should never be criticized because I believe that’s what makes this game so fun. That’s what draws people to this game. That’s what draws it to the pro level, to the college level, to the high school level.”
On Sunday (April 2), Angel Reese made the “you can’t see me” gesture toward Clark as the championship game ended. Reese then doubled down on the taunt with a “ring me” motion while staring her down.
During the tournament, Caitlin used the John Cena-esque taunt, and Reese was seemingly determined to return the favor. Since the NCAA matchup, the “Bayou Barbie” has been criticized for taunting her competition, with some spectators labeling her actions as “classless.”
During her post-championship news conference, the LSU player addressed her measures, proclaiming the moment was “bigger than her.”
“Caitlin Clark is a hell of a player for sure, but I don’t take disrespect lightly. And she disrespected Alexis and South Carolina; they’re still my SEC girls, too. You all are not going to disrespect them, either. [But] I’m happy,” Reese expressed. “I mean, 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 – you all don’t say nothing. So, this is for the girls that look like me. That’s going to speak up for what they believe in. It’s unapologetically you, and that’s what I did it for tonight. It was bigger than me tonight. It was bigger than me. Twitter is going to go in a rage every time. And, I mean, I’m happy. I feel like I helped grow women’s basketball this year. I’m super happy and excited. I’m looking forward to celebrating and then next season.”
Caitlin Clark and Angel Reese are set to return for the 2023-24 season, so the young rivalry is only getting started.