It’s ironic.

Have you ever noticed that the phrase “act like you’ve been there before” is usually being said by people who, ironically enough, haven’t been there before?

I’m going to assume that 99.999999% of the people who shared an opinion on Angel Reese’s taunting of Caitlin Clark have never been seconds away from winning a national championship, myself included. Yet the prevailing thought from those who opposed how the LSU star acted in the final seconds of the Tigers’ first national championship was that Reese didn’t act “with class.”

If that was your prevailing takeaway from a Final Four that could impact the sport for decades, well, that’s on you.

Shoutout Danny Kanell and Keith Olbermann.

It was Olbermann who took to Twitter to call Reese “a f—ing idiot” for following Clark around the court and throwing up John Cena’s famous “can’t see me” celebration, which was an interaction that took roughly 9 seconds. Should Reese have been given a technical foul? I suppose after Clark got a technical foul earlier in the game for throwing the ball in a direction the officials didn’t appreciate, yeah, the bar for a technical was pretty low in a game that was horribly officiated on both sides.

But if you’ve got a problem with Reese’s celebration, it’s ironic.

It’s ironic because Joe Burrow did the very same thing as he walked off the field in the closing minutes during LSU’s championship victory against Clemson to close the 2019 season. He pointed to his ring finger, much like Reese did 3 1/2 years later.

I get it, I get it. Reese did that, along with the “can’t see me” thing at Clark. Clearly, it was taunting.

Shoot, if this were the NFL, Roger Goodell probably would’ve given her a lifetime ban for such “classless” behavior.

What’s silly is that we pretend in all sports that trash talk doesn’t exist. We pretend that unless we see it, athletes on opposing teams who are both competing for a life-altering championship don’t, in fact, exchange words. Some of which makes it to television, some of which doesn’t.

It’s ironic that Clark herself talked trash in the NCAA Tournament. No, I’m not just referring to when she did the “you can’t see me” in the midst of a dominant win against Louisville to lift the Hawkeyes into the Final Four. Nope. I’m referring to Clark in that same Louisville game telling the opposition “you’re down by 15 points. Shut up.”

But did anyone blast Clark for that? I mean, wasn’t the entire frustration with Reese’s “classless” move the fact that it was directed at the opposition?

Seeing the irony yet?

When you win, you get to talk that talk. Clark won in that Elite 8 game. Reese won in that title game. They both talked that talk because despite what Clark’s seemingly emotionless expression suggested, emotions are running high.

Of course, there’s a line. If Reese followed Clark out of the stadium, snuck onto Iowa’s plane ride home and just trolled her the entire time from the seat across the aisle, OK, now that’s going too far. And yeah, if your entire motivation for winning in anything is rooted in your desire to prove that you’re better than someone, you probably have the wrong approach.

At the same time, though, read this postgame quote from Reese and see if you can understand why she might’ve been a little more juiced up at the opposition than some liked (via ESPN):

“All year, I was critiqued for who I was. I don’t fit the narrative,” Reese said. “I don’t fit the box that y’all want me to be in. I’m too hood. I’m too ghetto. Y’all told me that all year. When other people do it, and y’all don’t say nothing.

“So this is for the girls that look like me. For those that want to speak up for what they believe in. It’s unapologetically you. And that’s what I [did] before tonight. It was bigger than me tonight. And Twitter is going to go into a rage every time.”

We haven’t been there, either.

The woman who rocks the nickname “Bayou Barbie” has clearly heard things said about her — on TV or not — that we’ll never deal with in our everyday lives, especially not when we’re sitting at home judging other people from our couch on a Sunday afternoon.

And if you don’t believe that treatment was different, compare the piece ESPN did on Clark’s clap backs as opposed to the debates held on debate shows about whether Reese was “classy.”

To be clear, there’s nothing wrong with praising Clark for her clap backs, so long as the same treatment is given to Reese. It’s unfortunate that it didn’t turn into that. It’s unfortunate there was enough of an opposition for this to be an actual discussion topic after the weekend that was.

If we’re being honest, how much of this debate about “classiness” was related to America falling in love with Clark and wanting to see their new favorite player win instead of get taunted as she lost? Probably a good amount. We also can’t assume that everyone acted with that in mind, nor can we assume that this was entirely related to race and/or gender. The fact that all 3 of those elements fed into this made it a lightning rod discussion.

However you feel about Reese’s taunting of Clark in the final seconds, ask yourself why. Is it because you hope the youth of America doesn’t follow in Reese’s footsteps by taunting opponents after every win? If that’s the case, buddy, I’ve got news for you.

You’re gonna want to turn off the TV when an NBA player hits a 3-pointer in front of the visiting bench and turns to let them know about it. You’re gonna want to turn off the TV any time a player flexes and yells “AND 1!” after playing through contact to make a shot. You’re really gonna want to turn off the TV when someone drills a 3-pointer and they hold the follow-through for 3-4 seconds.

All of those things? Not classy. How dare athletes ever express emotion between the lines. That’s reserved for all of us on our couch.

And that’s as ironic as it gets.