Trending Topics

Flau’jae Johnson Stands Up for an Emotional Angel Reese Against Harsh Critics, Death Threats and ‘Dirty Debutante’ Label as Jason Sudeikis Joins In on the Shade

LSU women’s basketball stars Angel Reese and Flau’Jae Johnson have each other’s backs on and off the court.

After falling short of a victory against Iowa and its superstar player Caitlin Clark in the April 1 Elite Eight game, which ended with a final score of 94-87, Reese shed insight on just how challenging this season has been.

Last year, the Maryland native helped lead her team to the NCAA title, a feat that brought praise and scrutiny for the 21-year-old. In the post-loss press conference, she candidly revealed to reporters that being thrust into the national spotlight had taken a toll on her. “I’ve been through so much. I’ve seen so much. I’ve been attacked so many times. Death threats. I’ve been sexualized. I’ve been threatened,” she said through sniffles.

“I’ve been so many things, and I’ve stood strong every single time, and I just try to stand strong for my teammates because I don’t want them to see me down and like not be there for them,” continued Reese.

Angel Reese defended by teammate Flau'Jae Johnson following harsh criticism and death threats since winning 2023 NCAA Championship.
Angel Reese defended by teammate Flau’Jae Johnson following harsh criticism and death threats since winning 2023 NCAA Championship. (Photo: @angelreese10/Instagram)

She added, “I’m still a human, like all this has happened since I won the national championship, and I said the other day I haven’t been happy since and it sucks, but I still wouldn’t change. I wouldn’t’ change a thing, and I would still sit here and say like I’m unapologetically me, I’m gonna always leave that mark and be who I am and stand on that. Hopefully the little girls that look up to me and hopefully I give them some type of inspiration.”

Ahead of the matchup, on March 30, a Los Angeles Times article, “Commentary: UCLA-LSU is America’s sweetheart vs. its basketball villains,” spurred controversy from collegiate sports fans and more who called out columnist Ben Bolch for the column’s racist undertones, such as calling the LSU team “dirty debutantes” and using other offensive rhetoric. Johnson is among those looking up to Reese and was passionate as she addressed the media, defending her teammate, even alluding to the aforementioned editorial piece.

Amid backlash, the column was updated, and Bolch issued a public apology. In part, he wrote, “I tried to be clever in my phrasing about one team’s attitude, using alliteration while not understanding the deeply offensive connotation or associations. I also used metaphors that were not appropriate. Our society has had to deal with so many layers of misogyny, racism and negativity that I can now see why the words I used were wrong.” 

“Everybody can have their opinion on Angel Reese, but y’all don’t know her. Like y’all don’t know Angel Reese. I know Angel Reese. I know the real Angel Reese and the person I see everyday is a strong person. Is a caring loving person. Bruh, the crown she wears is heavy, bro,” explained the Tigers guard.

Her peer has been criticized for her competitive play, for not mincing words on the court, and for taunting her competitors with the controversial “you can’t see me” hand wave she did when going against Clark during last year’s tournament.

That same hand gesture was used as a slight by Iowa fans, like “Ted Lasso” actor Jason Sudeikis, during the heated rematch. Many of Reese’s supporters called his actions “tacky.”

But detractors did not get in the way of Johnson further praising the 2023 SEC Player of the Year, saying, “She’s the type of teammate that’s gon’ make you believe in yourself. The leap that I took from my freshman to sophomore year, Angel gave me that confidence to go be a dog. Playing next to a dog every day.”

Reese, who was seated next to Johnson, wiped tears from her face as her friend continued to hit back at critics. “You know just to see how the media ridicule her, we went through our problems, but like this my sister right here. And I’m so proud of her. Like the media, y’all how they like to twist and call it a villain and all of that, y’all don’t know Angel, bro. And I’m just happy that I get to play with her. I get to be around her presence; her energy is different. Like she just make me a better player. She make me a better player and that’s what great players do.”

“Young Queens supporting Young Queens. Love to see it!” read one of many responses to the show of camaraderie. On X, one fan commented, “Real sisterhood right here.”

As it stands, Reese has not confirmed her plans to enter the 2024 WNBA draft yet. However, LSU fans have already begun to prepare for Johnson to be her successor as the team’s leader.

Back to top