Ted Lasso in the crowd: Jason Sudeikis takes in Iowa-LSU game


“Ted Lasso” star Jason Sudeikis, who grew up in Overland Park and is a longtime supporter of Kansas basketball, showed up at the Iowa-LSU Elite Eight women’s basketball game in Albany, New York, Monday. He cheered for Iowa.

“Ted Lasso” star Jason Sudeikis, who grew up in Overland Park and is a longtime supporter of Kansas basketball, showed up at the Iowa-LSU Elite Eight women’s basketball game in Albany, New York, Monday. He cheered for Iowa.

Screengrab/ESPN

People watching the NCAA Elite Eight women’s basketball game between Louisiana State and Iowa on Monday saw a familiar face in the crowd cheering for the Hawkeyes and wondered: Doesn’t Ted Lasso love Kansas basketball?

ESPN showed Jason Sudeikis frequently during the game in Albany, New York, to the consternation of some fans. The Iowa Hawkeyes, led by star guard Caitlin Clark’s 41 points, beat LSU 94-87 to advance to the Final Four, after which a grinning Sudeikis posed with the winners.

And still people went, huh?

It must be noted that his presence was not the most viral moment of the night. That honor, not in a good way, belonged to LSU, when the team did not appear on the court during the national anthem.

LSU coach Kim Mulkey said after the game it was “nothing intentionally done.”

“Honestly, I don’t even know when the anthem was played,” she said. “We kind of have a routine (for leaving the court at a certain time).”

The game was a rematch of last year’s championship game, which LSU won 102-85, and put two of the best players in college hoops — Clark and LSU forward Angel Reese — together again. They’ve made news for more than just their field goal percentages.

Reese set social media on fire last year when late in the title game she waved a hand in front of her face and tapped her ring finger while looking directly at Clark.

The dismissive “You Can’t See Me” wave was popularized by pro wrestler John Cena.

Both players had used the gesture during their March Madness games, but only Reese caught flack. People on social media criticized her, but her defenders wondered whether race created a double standard: Clark is white and Reese is Black.

Cena even praised Clark for doing it.

After Monday’s game, the two stars high-fived each other and shared a brief hug.

During the game, ESPN showed Sudeikis performing the gesture, yelling and waving his hand in front of his face. He sat next to a man identified by ESPN as Ezra Edelman, who won an Academy Award for the documentary “O.J.: Made in America.”

Social media had so many thoughts about Sudeikis.

Why is he there????

Ted Lasso is a humble man!

Imagine getting cooked by Ted Lasso.

OUCH!

One woman on X, formerly Twitter, complained about ESPN’s camera work, evoking similar complaints from NFL fans about networks that showed Taylor Swift at Chiefs games. (Swift has said, rightfully so, that she didn’t control how often she was shown during games.)

“Iowa makes a terrific play, camera and announcers cut immediately to Jason Sudeikis — twice. “Jason Sudeikis” is all smiles,” the announcer guy says. What did I miss? Is he their coach?”

Some people didn’t like that he used the (controversial) hand gesture.

“So it’s funny when a grown ass wyt man does it, but last year everyone was in an uproar when Angel did it back to Caitlyn. Smh.”

Then again, Sudeikis got kudos for his hoodie, which read on the back, “Everyone watches women’s sports.”

After the game he posed with Clark and the team.

As social media noted, his roots took hold in Kansas. He lives now in New York City.

Sudeikis graduated from Shawnee Mission West and attended Fort Scott Community College, south of Kansas City — he played on both schools’ basketball teams. And though he never attended KU, he’s publicized his affection for the Jayhawks as far back as his days on “Saturday Night Live” when it wasn’t unusual to see him dressed in KU gear.

But Sudeikis is, quite simply, a big hoops fan. In fact, he also attended an Iowa game against Bowling Green in early December, sitting with basketball legend Sue Bird, who played college hoops for UConn.

Just a few weeks later on Christmas Day, he talked basketball with Bird and fellow WNBA legend Diana Taurasi during the New York Knicks-Milwaukee Bucks game.

The women host the “The Bird & Taurasi Show” on ESPN2.

His 9-year-old son, Otis, and daughter Daisy, 7, appeared with him. As “New York kids,” Sudeikis said, they wanted the Knicks to win. Sudeikis said he roots for the Brooklyn Nets.

“You know, we’re here. We’re down the road from Barclays (Center), so we saw the Knicks beat the Nets, unfortunately, the other night,” Sudeikis said.

“Yeah, I mean, you know Jason, we’ve talked about this,” Bird said. “Are you raising Knicks fans or Nets fans?”

In the Sudeikis household, he said, it’s the Nets, the WNBA’s New York Liberty and Jayhawks.

The women’s Final Four games will be played Friday in Cleveland’s Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse.

No. 1 seed South Carolina faces No. 3 seed North Carolina State, then No. 1 Iowa plays No. 3 UConn, Bird’s alma mater.

Another Ted Lasso cameo in the works, perhaps?

The championship game will be played at 2 p.m. CT Sunday.

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Lisa Gutierrez has been a reporter for The Kansas City Star since 2000. She learned journalism at the University of Kansas, her alma mater. She writes about pop culture, local celebrities, trends and life in the metro through its people. Oh, and dogs. You can reach her at lgutierrez@kcstar.com or follow her on Twitter – @LisaGinKC.





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