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Saturday June 3rd, 2023 10:50AM

LSU's Reese on White House flap: 'We’ll go to the Obamas'

By The Associated Press
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First lady Jill Biden's walk-back of her suggestion that runner-up Iowa should join NCAA women's basketball champion LSU for a visit to the White House didn't sit well with Tigers star Angel Reese.

Prompted by a discussion of Biden's comments during her Wednesday appearance on “The Paper Route Podcast,” Reese said the Tigers should celebrate their title with former President Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama rather than President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden.

Jill Biden, at an appearance in Denver on Monday, had praised Iowa’s sportsmanship and congratulated both teams. She also said that as part of the longstanding tradition of having champions visit the White House, Iowa should come as well "because they played such a good game.”

The Tigers defeated Iowa 102-85 for the title in Dallas on Sunday.

Reese on Monday called Jill Biden's suggestion “a joke.”

Joe Biden invited LSU and men's champion Connecticut to the White House on Tuesday with no mention of Iowa. Vanessa Valdivia, a spokesperson for Jill Biden, said the first lady had meant no disrespect to LSU and that her comments were intended to applaud the historic game and all women athletes.

“I'm not gonna lie to you, I don’t accept the apology because of, you said what you said. I said what I said. And like, you can’t go back on certain things that you say,” Reese told podcast hosts Brandon Marshall and Ashley Nicole Moss.

“I mean, you felt like they should’ve came because of sportsmanship, right?" Reese added. “They can have that spotlight. We’ll go to the Obamas. We'll see Michelle. We'll see Barack.”

Some social media commenters noted the racial dynamics involved, saying that only winners should be rewarded with a White House visit and that hosting both teams would detract from the achievement by LSU’s team, which is predominantly Black. The Iowa team is largely white. Others noted the important role of Black women in Democratic Party politics.

Following LSU’s victory, coach Kim Mulkey said she would go to the White House if invited. Reese said Wednesday she was uncertain if she would go.

Reese faced criticism on social media for waving her hand in front of Iowa star Caitlin Clark's face while staring down Clark during the game. Clark, The Associated Press Player of the Year, made a similar gesture to no one in particular during Iowa’s victory over Louisville in the Elite Eight.

Reese said she didn't think LSU, had it lost to Iowa, would have gotten the same praise from Jill Biden as the Hawkeyes did.

"If we were to lose, we would not be getting invited to the White House,” she added. “I remember she made a comment about both teams should be invited because of sportsmanship. And I’m like, ‘Are you saying that because of what I did?’ Stuff like that, it bothers me because you are a woman at the end of the day. White, Black, it doesn’t matter, you’re a woman, you’re supposed to be standing behind us before anything.”

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More AP coverage of March Madness: https://apnews.com/hub/march-madness and https://apnews.com/hub/womens-college-basketball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

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