Everything to Know About the Taunts Between March Madness Stars Caitlin Clark and Angel Reese
2024/04/02

The 2023 NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament brought out record numbers in viewership this year, where all eyes were on collegiate stars and .

The two basketball stars, Reese representing LSU and Clark representing Iowa, became household names for sports fans with their record-breaking performances in the March Madness tournament. However, the title game's most valuable players seem to have developed a tense relationship on Sunday, with Reese, 20, saying Clark, 21, "disrespected" several of Reese's friends and teammates throughout the tournament.

Here's everything to know about the two basketball stars and their feud.

Who started the taunting?

On several occasions during the tournament, Clark was praised for appearing to taunt her opponents on the court.

On Friday, called "Caitlin Clark: The Queen of Clap Backs" which highlighted the Iowa star's trash talk, including when she told a Louisville player, "You're down 15 points, shut up," in an earlier round of the competition.

But while Clark's taunts were met with praise from the media and users on Twitter, Reese was harshly criticized for the same behavior towards Clark on Sunday.

Several sports reporters took aim at Reese's taunts, despite Clark having participated in the "disrespectful" trash talk to start.

, "Let's call it what it is. [Clark] did the waving, she did the Cena," referring to the "you can't see me" hand gesture made popular by wrestler John Cena.

Smith, 55, pointed out that during Iowa's semi-final match up againt South Carolina, Clark "waved off" one of the team's shooters. "She didn't mind being disrespectful, so why is it that we're hesitant to bring that up?"

What happened between Reese and Clark during the title game?

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On Sunday, Reese and Clark faced off in the championship game. Ultimately, Reese's LSU Tigers won, 102-85.

During the final moments of the game, Reese was seen on the broadcast using Clark's own taunts towards her, which was highly criticized online. Reese used Cena's "you can't see me" taunt and pointed to her ring finger — signaling that they'll be getting the championship ring — while looking at Clark on Sunday.

Subsequently, the word "classless" trended on Twitter after Reese's taunts, with many users on the website flipping the script on the LSU star after the taunt.

The discrepancy in reactions to Reese and Clark's taunts exposed the racist double standards that the sport continues to be plagued by, particularly when online critics get involved.

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Sports commentator Keith Olbermann had especially harsh words for Reese's taunts towards Clark, despite Clark having behaved similarly in previous games. Olbermann "a f---ing idiot" in a tweet.

What did Reese and Clark say about each other?

Both players spoke about one another during their postgame press conferences.

When asked about the taunts from Reese after the game, Clark said, "Honestly, I have no idea. I was just trying to get to the handshake line and shake hands and be grateful that my team was in that position." Clark added, "That's all you can do is hold your head high, be proud of what you did.

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"

Reese that Clark, who she called "a hell of a player," had "disrespected" her teammate Alexis Morris during the title game and said she doesn't "take disrespect lightly."

Reese also referenced the incident mentioned by Smith, involving South Carolina's team. "They're my SEC girls too," Reese said of South Carolina's players. "Y'all not going to disrespect them either."

The LSU star later said, "All year I was critiqued about who I was. I don't fit the narrative. I don't fit in the box that you all want me to be in.

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I'm too hood, I'm too ghetto. You 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 want to speak up on what they believe in. It's unapologetically you. It was bigger than me tonight. I'm happy. I felt I helped grow women's basketball."

Since their postgame interviews, both Reese and Clark have addressed the discourse around their taunts.

Speaking with on Tuesday, Clark said, "I don't think Angel should be criticized at all. No matter which way it goes, she should never be criticized for what she did."

Clark continued, "I think everybody knew there was gonna be a little trash talk in the entire tournament," Clark explained.

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"It's not just me and Angel."

Clark, despite , told ESPN that the LSU Tigers earned their NCAA Championship over her team. "LSU deserved it, they played so well, and like I said, I'm a big fan of hers," Clark said of Reese.

How is Dr. Jill Biden involved?

On Monday, that Dr. Jill Biden was considering extending invitations to the White House to both title game teams. This would be the first time the runners-up would be included in the celebratory visit.

"So I know we'll have the champions come to the White House, we always do," Jill said, according to

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. "So, we hope LSU will come but, you know, I'm going to tell Joe [Biden] I think Iowa should come, too, because they played such a good game."

Reese shared the link to ESPN's story and wrote "A JOKE," with three laughing emojis.

The first lady has apparently decided against inviting both teams since she floated the idea, but the damage is done if you ask Reese and the LSU Tigers.

"Stuff like that, it bothers me because you are a woman, at the end of the day, and you're supposed to be standing behind us before anything," Reese told the podcast on Tuesday. "So it's hard to see things like that and not comment back on it.

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"

Reese continued, "I'm not going to lie to you, I don't accept the apology. You can't go back on certain things that you say. You felt like they should have came because of sportsmanship right? They [Iowa] can have that spotlight. We'll go to the Obamas'. I'm gonna see Michelle. I'm gonna see Barack."

How did basketball Twitter react?

Several of basketball's biggest names reacted to the players' taunts in the title game, including LeBron James, who loved Reese's on-court celebration.

David Aldridge of The Athletic , saying he had "zero problem" with "anyone as good as" Angel Reese and Caitlin Clark participating in trash talk during the highly-competitive tournament.

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Aldridge said he has no issue with it because "they back it up on the court" in a tweet on Sunday. "Some of y'all always have exceptions to your 'rules' about 'sportsmanship,'" he added.

NBA legend in response to Olbermann's heavily-criticized tweet. "Shut your dumb a-- up leave Angel Reese alone," O'Neal, 51, wrote on Sunday.

Speaking with PEOPLE on Monday, O'Neal said, "When you're a champion, you're allowed to TYS: talk your stuff.

O'Neal, who thought this year's women's Final Four was "the best Final Four in sports history," said he reached out to Reese personally to tell her not to worry about the naysayers.

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"I talked to Angel yesterday. I said, 'Hey, you're a champion. Enjoy being a champion and have fun.'"

O'Neal said the online trolls "are making a big deal of" Reese's celebratory taunt and the Twitter users who are "calling people names" are why the NBA legend takes issue with the Elon Musk-owned app.

"That's the problem with Twitter...Everybody gets to voice their opinion," O'Neal added.

Will Clark and Reese play each other again?

Both standout players are in their junior year, meaning they won't be eligible for the WNBA Draft until 2024.

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That means both Clark and Reese will potentially play another season with their school's teams and may meet again in next year's NCAA Tournament.

Reese was named the 2023 Most Outstanding Player in the NCAA Tournament. She scored a double-double in every game, .

Despite the loss, Clark broke the NCAA tournament's all-time scoring record on Sunday. She scored the most three-pointers in an NCAA championship game and finished the game with 30 points, eight assists and two rebounds.

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