WASHINGTON — Practically two months after profitable its first nationwide championship, the LSU ladies’s basketball group took the normal go to to the White Home on Friday – a celebratory afternoon that was briefly interrupted by a scary second, when an LSU participant fainted on the rostrum.
Ahead Sa’Myah Smith, a rising sophomore, collapsed halfway by means of congratulatory remarks from President Joe Biden within the East Room and acquired medical consideration earlier than being helped out of the room in a wheelchair. LSU coach Kim Mulkey instructed the gathered crowd that Smith was OK and wished to stick with the group however wanted to be depart to be additional evaluated by medical doctors.
The incident quickly halted what was in any other case a joyous afternoon for the Tigers, and the star-studded political leaders that assembled to satisfy them, together with President Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and every of their spouses.
The afternoon featured LSU star Angel Reese handing a commemorative jersey to Dr. Jill Biden, posing for a photograph and giving her a hug – a coda to the general public back-and-forth between them that garnered headlines final month.
After attending the Tigers’ 102-85 victory over Iowa within the nationwide title sport, the First Woman made an offhand suggestion that her husband ought to lengthen White Home visits to each groups “as a result of they performed such a superb sport.” The remark was doubtless meant to be a praise for Iowa, but it surely prompted backlash from the Tigers and Reese particularly. She referred to Biden’s suggestion as “A JOKE.”
“I simply know if the roles had been reversed, it would not be the identical,” Reese stated throughout an look on the “I Am Athlete” podcast just a few days later, after Biden’s press secretary tried to stroll again her feedback.
“You may’t return on sure issues that you simply say. You felt that they need to have got here due to ‘sportsmanship,’ proper? (Iowa) can have that highlight; we’ll go to the Obamas. We’ll see Michelle. We’ll see Barack.”
By the top of the week, LSU had confirmed that its ladies’s basketball group would go to the White Home, if invited. And Reese stated on ESPN that she would be a part of her teammates.
“I am a group participant,” Reese stated. “I’ll do what’s finest for the group, and I am the captain. I do know the group would adore it.”
So there Reese was Friday, standing within the entrance row as Harris known as LSU’s group “a gaggle that defines excellence in each manner.” The Tigers received 34 of their 36 video games, together with a lopsided victory within the title sport.
President Biden used the occasion as a chance to stump for extra media protection and funding in ladies’s sports activities, whereas additionally jokingly nodding to the frequency with which Mulkey has been to the White Home.
“That is getting outdated hat for the coach,” President Biden stated to laughter. “She’s been right here with 19 presidents!”
This was truly Mulkey’s fifth go to to have a good time an NCAA title. Briefly remarks, she famous that this was the primary journey through which members of the family of coaches and gamers had been invited to affix. “That touches my coronary heart,” Mulkey stated.
Mulkey and her gamers weren’t made accessible to talk with reporters after the go to.
Ladies’s basketball champions have been routinely honored on the White Home because the mid-Nineteen Eighties, however their celebratory visits have grow to be extra sporadic in recent times. Former president Donald Trump didn’t lengthen invites to many championship groups in ladies’s sports activities throughout his tenure, and the COVID-19 pandemic made such visits unattainable.
The boys’s title-winners, the Connecticut Huskies, additionally visited the White Home later Friday. After praising UConn as one of many premier faculty basketball packages within the nation, President Biden stated he heard that one of many group’s high gamers, Jordan Hawkins, used to play one-on-one together with his cousin, Reese.
“So I’ve arrange a basketball court docket on the South Garden,” Biden stated to laugher. “I simply need you to know that after this, we’re all happening there to see that one-on-one sport.”
Hawkins stated he was floored that the president known as him out by identify.
“I used to be like, ‘oh, (expletive).’ That was fairly cool,” Hawkins stated. “I did not anticipate that in any respect. Positively going to inform my grandkids (about that).”
UConn coach Dan Hurley, in the meantime, described visiting the White Home as “one of many biggest honors in group sports activities.” After beating San Diego State within the males’s nationwide championship sport and chopping down the nets, Hurley recalled that one of many first issues he did after strolling into the locker room was flip to his assistants and say, “I feel we’ll the White Home.”
“It is simply such a particular expertise,” Hurley stated. “One which simply makes all of the sacrifices, and all of the struggles, it simply makes all of it price it. None of us will ever overlook a day like this.”
Nationwide champions in an unspecified variety of different collegiate sports activities are scheduled to collectively have a good time on the White Home subsequent month. Georgia, the latest School Footbally Playoff winner, is not going to be in attendance nevertheless, citing scheduling conflicts.
Contact Tom Schad at [email protected] or on Twitter @Tom_Schad.