First Lady Jill Biden has become embroiled in a controversy with the Louisiana State University women's basketball team this week following the NCAA championship it won on Sunday, in part due to her faux pas of extending an invitation to runners-up Iowa University.
But now it has been revealed that the controversy may have actually begun before the championship game was even played, according to star LSU player Angel Reese, and that may be due not to the words or actions of the first lady but rather President Joe Biden himself, the Daily Wire reported.
Reese share in an interview how the first lady had attempted to deliver a pregame pep-talk to the LSU players in their lockerroom but was rejected from doing so because the president had predicted that LSU would lose in the early rounds in his March Madness bracket.
Reese joined I AM ATHLETE's "Paper Route" program for her first sit-down interview after winning the championship and discussed a number of topics that included racism, the criticism she'd received for taunting Iowa's star player, the perceived insult of the first lady's dual invite to both LSU and Iowa, as well as the revelation about the rejected pregame pep-talk due to the perceived disrespect of President Biden's bracket picks.
About midway through the discussion and following an apparent rejection of a White House visit invitation altogether, Reese said of the first lady, "Apparently she was supposed to come to our locker room before the game but we said 'no.'"
"She was supposed to come to our locker room and go to Iowa’s locker room. I don’t know if she talked to them. I don’t know if she did," she continued. "But we said we didn’t want to. We didn’t want her coming into the locker room."
Asked why, Reese explained, "I think Joe Biden had put somebody else to win the national championship. He didn’t even put us on his bracket to get out of Baton Rouge, so I was like, bet," and clarified a few seconds later, "I think that he said we were going to lose to Michigan or something."
According to Sports Illustrated, President Biden did indeed pick Villanova to defeat South Carolina in the NCAA women's championship game. He also picked LSU to lose to Michigan in the second round as well as for Iowa to lose to Stanford in the Elite Eight round.
Earlier in the interview, Reese also seemed to imply that racism was a factor in first lady Jill Biden appearing to break with longstanding White House tradition by extending an invitation to visit not just to the predominately black LSU champions but also the predominately white Iowa runners-up.
Reese shared how she and other teammates had swiftly rejected the dual invite as "a joke" and an insult, that she took Biden's mention of "sportsmanship" as a criticism of her controversial taunting gestures, and at one point said, "I just know that if the roles were reversed, it wouldn't be the same. If we were to lose, we would not be getting invited to the White House."
The New York Post reported that Biden, during a trip Monday to Colorado, said, "I know we’ll have the champions come to the White House, we always do," but then added, "So, we hope LSU will come. But, you know, I’m going to tell Joe I think Iowa should come, too, because they played such a good game."
Following immediate pushback, a spokesperson for Biden issued a sort of backtracking apology that sought to clarify that the first lady had simply been trying to honor all women athletes, but that explanation didn't go over very well either.
"I’m not gonna lie to you, I don’t accept the apology because you said what you said," Reese explained of what Biden and her spokesperson had said. "I said what I said. You can’t go back on certain things that you say. I mean, you felt like they should’ve come because of 'sportsmanship,' right? They can have that spotlight. We’ll go to the Obamas."