LSU's Angel Reese talks taunt of Caitlin Clark, social media criticism: 'What are you gonna say now?'

Moments after winning the national title on Sunday, LSU's Angel Reese had a message for Caitlin Clark.

She didn't use her words. She let her hands do the talking. As the Iowa star walked off the court, Reese looked in her direction and waved her hands in front of her own face. She then pointed to her ring finger.

The ring finger gesture was clear. She'd just earned some new jewelry. The hand wave? It's a take on a WWE taunt popularized by wrestler John Cena that's accompanied by the phrase "You can't see me."

Cena's taunt has made its way to social media, basketball courts and elsewhere where opponents are vanquished. In fact, Clark employed it just last week as Iowa beat Hailey Van Lith and Louisville in the Elite Eight. She did so after hitting her sixth 3-pointer of the game. Cena took notice and appreciated the homage — and Clark's game.

As for Reese? She addressed the gesture postgame while speaking with ESPN. She told the studio crew anchored by Elle Duncan that she wasn't going to let Clark disrespect teammate Alexis Morris or South Carolina, which Iowa beat in Friday's Final Four. Clark waved off South Carolina's Raven Johnson in that game on defense as if she didn't have to guard her on the perimeter.

"I was waiting," Reese told ESPN. "Caitlin Clark is a hell of a player for sure. But I don't take disrespect lightly. And she disrespected Alexis and my girls — South Carolina, they still my SEC girls, too. Y'all not gonna disrespect them either. ... I had a moment at the end of the game. I was in my bag. I was in the moment."

LSU forward Angel Reese gestures toward her ring finger in the direction of Iowa guard Caitlin Clark in the closing minutes of the women's NCAA tournament national championship game at the American Airlines Center in Dallas on April 2, 2023. (Kevin Jairaj/USA TODAY Sports)
Angel Reese had a postgame message for Caitlin Clark. (Kevin Jairaj/USA TODAY Sports)

By the time Reese reached the postgame media podium, her gesture had set social media on fire, much of the commentary taking offense. "Taunting" trended on Twitter as critics chastised Reese as "classless."

Reese addressed her critics on the podium.

"All year, I was critiqued about who I was," Reese said. "The narrative — I don’t fit the narrative. I don't fit into 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.

"But when other people do it, y’all don’t say nothing. So this is for the girls that look like me, that’s gonna speak on for what they believe in. It’s unapologetically you. And that’s what I did it for tonight.

"This was bigger than me tonight. Twitter is gonna go on a rage every time. And I’m happy. I feel like I've helped grow women's basketball this year."

As for Clark? She didn't make much of it when asked about Reese's gesture.

"Honestly, I have no idea," Clark told reporters. "I was just trying to get to the handshake line and shake hands and be grateful that my team was in that position. That’s all you can do is hold your head high, be proud of what you did.

"All the credit in the world to LSU. They were tremendous. They deserve it. They had a tremendous season. Kim Mulkey coached them so, so well. She’s one of the best basketball coaches of all time, and it shows. She only said really kind things to me in the handshake line, so I’m very grateful to that, too.

"But honestly I have no idea. I was just trying to spend the last few moments on the court with especially the five people that I’ve started 93 games with and relishing every second of that."

Reese circled back to the topic once more before leaving the podium.

"I don’t care to be All-American. I don’t care to be a Defensive Player of the Year," Reese said. "The biggest goal is to be a national champion. And that’s what I did. And I can just brag on. At the end of the day, it’s a team effort.

"Twitter can say what they want to say. I love Twitter and I love reading those comments. I have all the screenshots of what everybody has said about me all season. What are you gonna say now?"

Her response drew applause from some on social media, LeBron James included.

Clark and Reese both have college eligibility remaining and are expected to return next season. Both were All-Americans in 2023 and would project to repeat those honors in 2024. If college basketball's lucky, it will get to see them settle things on the court one more time.

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