President Biden and First Lady Jill Biden welcomed the Louisiana State University (LSU) women’s basketball team to the White House on Friday to celebrate their recent national championship. The ceremony was a momentous occasion to honor the team’s remarkable achievement and recognize their contributions to the popularity of women’s basketball.
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During the ceremony in the East Room, an unexpected incident occurred when Sa’Myah Smith, a forward on the LSU team, appeared to pass out while standing on the stage’s risers. The proceedings were temporarily delayed for approximately six minutes as medical personnel attended to Smith. Assuring the concerned attendees, President Biden stated, “She’s OK. It’s happened lots of times.” Coach Kim Mulkey also provided reassurance that Smith was fine but needed to undergo a precautionary examination.
Commendation for the Championship Run and Advocacy of Women’s Sports
President Biden, along with Vice President Harris, took the opportunity to commend the LSU team for their dominant championship run and their efforts in promoting women’s basketball. Stressing the importance of year-round support for women’s sports, President Biden stated, “Folks, we need to support women’s sports not just during championship runs but the entire year, and every season.” The Bidens and Vice President Harris expressed their admiration for the team’s achievements and the positive impact they have had on the women’s game.
President Biden shared a lighthearted moment with Coach Kim Mulkey, acknowledging her frequent visits to the White House. Mulkey, who previously won three championships as the head coach at Baylor before achieving her first with LSU this year, received a playful remark from the President. “Isn’t this getting old for you?” he quipped, highlighting the coach’s remarkable success in recent years.
Initial Controversy and Reconciliation
Prior to the LSU team’s visit, there was initial controversy following their championship victory in early April. First Lady Jill Biden had suggested inviting the Iowa women’s basketball team to the White House due to the high quality of the championship game, which broke viewership records. However, the suggestion was later retracted by Biden’s office.
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LSU star forward Angel Reese expressed her initial reluctance to accept President Biden’s apology. She also revealed that the LSU team had declined a meeting with the first lady before the championship game, citing their frustration over the president’s prediction of LSU’s early elimination in his bracket. Despite these tensions, Reese and the rest of the team attended Friday’s event, demonstrating a willingness to reconcile and celebrate their achievements.
Distinguished Guests in Attendance
The event witnessed the presence of notable individuals, including Rep. Garret Graves (R-La.) and Shalanda Young, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget and a Louisiana native. Both Graves and Young are actively involved in negotiations between the White House and House Republicans concerning a budget agreement that would prevent a default by raising the debt ceiling in the coming days. President Biden acknowledged Young’s dedication to the ongoing talks, stating that she made the effort to attend the event despite her involvement in the negotiations.