ESPN4 minutes of reading
LSU star Angel Reese said Friday he will visit the White House with his team, days after suggesting they celebrate their national championship with former President Barack Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama rather than President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden.
Reese made the suggestion after saying he didn’t want to accept Jill Biden’s apology for suggesting both LSU and runner-up Iowa should be invited to the White House. President Biden didn’t follow through on that idea, inviting only LSU and men’s national champion Connecticut.
LSU on Thursday confirmed it has accepted President Biden’s invitation to visit the White House. No date has been fixed for the visit.
Reese said he will attend with his team on Friday.
“We were hurt at the beginning — it was emotional because we knew how hard we worked for everything,” Reese said Friday on “SportsCenter.”
“You don’t have that experience [to go to the White House] As always, I know my team definitely wants to go and my coaches are supportive of that, so I’m going to do what’s best for the team and we’ve decided we’re going to go.
“I’m a team player. I’m going to do what’s best for the team. I’m the captain.”
Following LSU’s win, coach Kim Mulkey said he would go to the White House if the call came.
Vanessa Valdivia, a spokeswoman for Jill Biden, said the first lady meant no disrespect to LSU and that her comments were meant to honor the historic game and all female athletes. In a 102-85 victory over the Hawkeyes, LSU’s points total was the most ever scored by a team in a championship game. The combined total of 187 smashed the previous mark. The game drew 9.9 million television viewers, a record for an NCAA women’s title game.
In an appearance in Denver on Monday, Jill Biden praised Iowa’s athleticism and congratulated both teams. As part of a long-standing tradition of champions visiting the White House, he said Iowa should come because they played a good game.
Reese on Monday called Jill Biden’s suggestion “a joke.”
Some social media commentators noted the racial dynamics involved, saying that only the winners should be rewarded with a visit to the White House and that hosting both teams would diminish the accomplishments of LSU’s team, which is predominantly black. The Iowa team is mostly white. Others noted the important role of black women in Democratic Party politics.
President Biden was Obama’s Vice President and Vice President for eight years. Obama, meanwhile, campaigned hard for Biden in the 2020 election.
Reese faced criticism on social media for mockingly waving his hand in front of his face while staring down Iowa star Kaitlyn Clark at the end of the game. Clarke, the Associated Press Player of the Year, made a similar gesture to no one in particular during Iowa’s win over Louisville in the Elite Eight.
Reese said he doesn’t think the Hawkeyes would have gotten the same praise from Jill Biden if LSU had lost to Iowa.
“If we lose, we won’t be invited to the White House,” he added. “I remember him making a comment that both teams should be invited because of athleticism. And I said, ‘You mean that because of what I did?’ Things like that bother me because at the end of the day you’re a woman.
A smiling Reese waved his hand in front of his face amid waves of cheering fans as he sat in the back of an orange Corvette convertible during LSU’s championship parade on campus Wednesday night.
Reese’s openness on and off the court fueled interest in him. According to Canada Sports Betting, Reese gained 500,000 Instagram followers in the two days following LSU’s national title win, bringing his total followers to more than 1 million.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.