Credit: ESPN

LSU star Angel Reese has become a lightning rod for criticism as well as support.

After a tearful recent postgame press conference detailing the sexist and racist abuse she’s received since being labeled the “villain” of women’s college basketball, Reese’s story has resonated with many.

Her outspoken personality, while undeniably confident, can be polarizing. Some, including even women’s basketball legends, find it off-putting. However, others see it as a refreshing authenticity. Regardless of how you feel about her, Reese’s talent and impact on the game are undeniable.

Adding fuel to the fire, WNBA legend Diana Taurasi took a jab at Reese during Friday’s return of The Bird & Taurasi Show. Co-hosting a mega-cast for both Final Four games, Taurasi’s comment about Reese’s on-court behavior didn’t land as intended.

During the broadcast, Sue Bird pointed out a clip of Reese waving to Middle Tennessee’s Anastasiia Boldyreva after LSU defeated them 83-59 in the second round. This seemingly innocuous gesture prompted a not-so-subtle jab from Taurasi at Reese, whose LSU team ultimately lost to Caitlin Clark and the Iowa Hawkeyes in the Elite Eight.

“Wave bye-bye to your own career,” Taurasi said.

Bird had to remind her that this was only the end of Reese’s collegiate career. She had just declared for the 2024 WNBA Draft and is expected to be a top pick.

“Oh, right,” Taurasi replied. “My bad.”

Those who reacted on social media seemed to see it as an unforced error by one of the greatest players in WNBA history.

Taurasi’s comment not only felt weird for the moment but also misguided. We recently saw Emmanuel Acho face criticism for suggesting Reese’s personality invited negativity, even though the media, not her peers, labeled her the villain. Taurasi’s “wave bye-bye to your career” remark only seems to amplify that narrative.

Reese is a rising star soon to join the WNBA, which would only seem to benefit from the increased viewership that the women’s college game has seen in 2024. Perhaps Taurasi intended her remark to be a playful jab, mirroring Reese’s actions towards opponents, but is that really in her job description?

While personal preference towards Reese exists, taking a not-so-subtle shot at her after her emotional response to abuse undermines efforts to promote a supportive environment in women’s basketball.

[The Whole Delivery on X]

About Sam Neumann

Since the beginning of 2023, Sam has been a staff writer for Awful Announcing and The Comeback. A 2021 graduate of Temple University, Sam is a Charlotte native, who currently calls Greenville, South Carolina his home. He also has a love/hate relationship with the New York Mets and Jets.