Don’t Listen to the Noise- Angel Reese and Caitlin Clark’s Beef is Good for Women’s Basketball

We need to talk about whether or not you all collectively have the balls to enjoy women’s basketball. Instead of enjoying a moment that was great for sports and Womens basketball we end up talking about race and bad takes about Caitlin Clark and Angel Reese.

In case you weren’t one of the ten million people watching LSU beat Iowa for the 2023 women’s national championship, or one of the 20 million people with a hot take on Angel Reese taunting Caitlin Clark in the game’s closing moments, here’s the background:

LSU and their controversial and wild dressing coach, Kim Mulkey, overcame a weak non-conference schedule and an early SEC tournament exit to power through the NCAA tournament as a 3-seed on their way to the championship game.

On the other side, you have one of the best young female shooters of all time in Caitlin Clark, who led Iowa to a 2-seed and a stunning upset of South Carolina in the Final Four. 

Caitlin Clark is as good of a trash talker as she is a player. She was praised for waving off South Carolina’s Raven Johnson, who was wide open at the three point line, during Iowa’s Final Four win. And cameras caught her telling Kobe Bryant  protégé and Louisville star Hailey Van Lith to “shut up” during Iowa’s elite 8 win. Plus, there’s the whole John Cena “You can’t see me” celebration she does to show up opponents.

That brings us to LSU sophomore forward Angel Reese, who did Clark’s signature celebration repeatedly at the end of the national championship game, as well as pointed to her ring finger.

People were mad as hell

But about what? These are elite level players, and like it or not, trash talk is part of the game. 

How did we get to the point where the people that used to say “kitchen” to anyone who praised the entertainment value of women’s basketball, decided that not only do they like women’s basketball, but that they needed to adopt the game’s best long range assassin as their personal damsel in distress?

Caitlin Clark addressed the situation on Outside The Lines and said she respects Angel Reese and doesn’t think she should be criticized at all. So if she isn’t upset why should you be?

How are black folks supposed to feel about the disproportionate response to Angel Reese’s behavior? Or how should anybody with common sense feel for that matter?

It feels eerily similar to the reactions that call Tom Brady a fiery competitor when he breaks a tablet or cusses out a teammate, but Odell Beckham Jr. punches a kicking net, and he’s a cancer.

Angel Reese’s actions are no different than Baker Mayfield planting the Oklahoma flag, Dikembe Mutumbo wagging his finger after a block, or Reggie Miller doing the choke symbol vs the Knicks. Are those the most gentle and “sportsmanship-filled” moments in the world? Nope. But sports involve emotion and trash talk. When you talk trash you don’t get to determine how it comes back.

This tournament generated so much buzz that there are no losers! Well, except for the folks like Dave Portnoy who decided to defend the setback of his great white hope by calling Angel Reese a piece of shit, and admitted basketball ignoramus Keith Olbermann, who called Reese a moron. It’s fair to call them losers.

These women don’t need you, or anyone, to defend them. They need you to remember how much fun this tournament was, and they need to schedule a non-conference tournament with Louisville, LSU, Iowa, Miami, and South Carolina.

I’m hyped right now thinking about how mad Caitlin Clark is going to be all offseason. I can’t wait to see what Angel Reese does with the attention she garnered. And you know Dawn Staley and South Carolina are sitting at home thinking bad thoughts about what they’re going to do to everyone else next year because their perfect record and chance to repeat got ruined. 

Women’s basketball is having a moment. And maybe part of that moment is the sport being subjected to the same hot take idiocy that surrounds all of America’s other favorite pastimes, but it would be great if we didn’t ruin a good thing before it has a chance to become great. 

Let that sink in.

People Like Me Are Watching the Women’s Tournament in Record Numbers. You Should Be Watching, Too.

We need to talk about the ratings the NCAA women’s tournament is getting. 

That’s right, I said we need to talk about women’s basketball. 

If you’re one of those cornballs that tweets “kitchen” in the mentions of any WNBA highlight, you might want to close this internet window and go spend some time staring directly into the sun, or doing whatever else caused you to act so damaged.

For the rest of you, let’s get into the numbers. So far, the women’s tournament has an average viewership of 660,000 per game– a 42-percent viewership increase from 2022.

ESPN says the Sweet 16 round’s 1.2 million viewers per-game is a 73 percent jump over last season, and the women’s Elite Eight viewership averaged 2.2 million- up 43 percent over 2022

And get this- ESPN says the Iowa/Louisville Elite 8 game drew more viewers than any NBA game they’ve broadcasted this season. Most importantly for ESPN, before all these ratings went gangbusters, Disney Advertising sold out of in-game sponsorship opportunities. Capital One, Nissan and others are getting crazy bang for their buck right now, and you can guarantee there will be a priority for next year’s ad slots thanks to these ratings.

Other people watching something isn’t necessarily a reason you should watch. The reason you should be watching is that the athletes are as good as they’ve ever been, and the storylines are as entertaining as they’ve ever been. The top teams are fun, flashy, talk trash, star in commercials, and play the game the right way. 

I’ll never understand people that say they’ll never watch a women’s game because it’s an inferior product- Keeping up with the Kardashians isn’t the same quality as Breaking Bad, but they both do numbers because they’re both entertaining. 

Iowa’s Caitlin Clark dropped a 40-point triple double. Are you not entertained?

Louisville’s Hailey Van Lith, a former Kobe Bryant protégé, bounced Texas out of the sweet 16 and talked trash in the handshake line after the game. Are you not entertained?

The Cavinder Twins, formerly of Fresno State, propelled Miami to an Elite 8 while leading the charge on all that is possible for capitalizing on your own Name, Image and Likeness- plus Haley Cavinder shushing 1-seed Indiana after a game-sealing free throw is as cold blooded as it gets. Are you not entertained?

Kim Mulkey’s insane outfits every time LSU takes the court. Angel Reese with six different 20-point, 20-rebound performances this season. Dawn Staley turning South Carolina into the new UConn with 42-straight wins. Virginia Tech making their first ever Final Four behind 6-6 Liz Kitley, the most consistent player in the country over the last three years. How can you not be entertained?

You can stay sleeping on the women’s tournament if you want to, but why would you want to? 

This Friday night you can catch me watching LSU/Va Tech and Iowa/South Carolina. Tune in with me. You just might enjoy yourself. 

Let that sink in.