Angel Reese Says She'll 'Take The Bad Guy Role' In Her Rivalry With Caitlin Clark

angel reese and caitlin clark

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Caitlin Clark and Angel Reese have taken their rivalry to the big leagues.

The former collegiate rivals have faced off again in the WNBA. The pair made headlines after one of Angel’s teammates fouled Caitlin—and Angel was seen clapping.

On June 1 Caitlin’s Indiana Fever hosted Angel's Chicago Sky, in the players' first match-up since their Elite Eight game in 2024 March Madness. (There, Caitlin's Hawkeyes came out on top, but lost in the finals to South Carolina.)

Indiana won the game by one point, but the team is instead making headlines for a foul against Caitlin. In one play, Chennedy Carter knocked Caitlin to the ground. Angel was photographed clapping, which caused headlines and a ton of renewed attention on this feud, per the Associated Press.

The same thing happened in the wake of LSU's 2023 championship run (where they beat Caitlin's Hawkeyes in the finals). Online chatter about a supposed rivalry between the two players dominated headlines.

But Angel set the record straight in her March/April cover interview with Women's Health.

"I love that we’re able to compete and still be cool after, regardless of the outside noise," Angel told WH. "When we get between the lines and we're ready to compete, we just want to win. That's just the group of women—we always want to win, and we're strong and super powerful in everything that we do."

It's also not lost on Angel that the more people talk about the "rivalry" between her and Caitlin, the more airtime they each get—not to mention, the increased public interest ultimately benefits women's basketball.

Ahead, here's a look back at the history between Angel Reese and Caitlin Clark, what's been said about their rivalry, and how they actually respect one another—on and off the court.

Angel says that fouls are "not personal."

On Monday, Angel spoke to reporters about the game, saying that fouls are not personal.

“When we go out there and play super hard, compete every single day, it’s not personal,” she told reporter, per US Weekly.

“I promise you it’s based off of our stories and where we’ve come from. We’ve come from so many places that you guys have never seen or would never understand, so just being able to go out there and play with that chip on our shoulder every single night, that’s just what we do and that’s just who we are.”

Angel and Caitlin played AAU basketball together.

The players didn't meet on the collegiate court; they've been competing against each other since their high school Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) days.

Before the 2023-2024 season began, Angel cleared the air on the situation that speculated animosity between Caitlin. "Oh my gosh, I love Caitlin; we’ve been competing since we were in AAU," she told reporters during LSU's media day in October 2023. "It was always fun, always competitive. One day, hopefully, we could even be teammates. She is a great player, shooter, person and teammate."

Watch Angel's interview below:

Things came to a head during the 2023 national championship game.

As time dwindled down at the end of the biggest game of the season, Angel pointed to her ring finger as Caitlin walked past her. She also waved her hand to make John Cena’s famous “You can’t see me” gesture in Caitlin's direction. In that game, LSU won over the Hawkeyes 102-85.

louisiana state university vs university of iowa, 2023 ncaa women's national championship
Caitlin Clark (L) and Angel Reese (R) during the womenGreg Nelson - Getty Images

In 2024, the two faced off again during the Elite Eight of the NCAA March Madness tournament, where the Hawkeyes came out on top, 94-87.

While making hand gestures and outwardly showing competitiveness in basketball isn't out of the norm, many people took to social media to say that Angel was inappropriately taunting her opponent, even though Caitlin had made the same gesture just a few games prior.

Angel was asked about that trash talk ahead of the 2024 rematch between herself and Caitlin, and made it pretty clear that there’s no bad blood. “I don't think people realize it's not personal,” she said, per ESPN. “Once we get out between those lines, if I see you walking down the street, it's like, 'Hey, girl, what's up? Let's hang out.’”

She added that it’s “fine” if people don’t like her trash talking, saying, “I'll take the villain role."

"I'll take the hit for it, but I know we're growing women's basketball,” she said. “If this is the way we're going to do it, then this is the way we're going to do it. You either like it or you don't.”

"People are going to say what they want to say, but I know how many people I have impacted in a positive way," Angel told WH, reflecting on the situation nearly a year later. "I don’t live with any regrets."

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Caitlin has also been quick to defend Angel amid the social media backlash. "I don't think Angel should be criticized at all," she told ESPN's Outside the Lines in April 2023. "No matter which way it goes, she should never be criticized for what she did. I'm just one that competes, and she competed. I think everybody knew there was going to be a little trash talk. It's not just me and Angel. I don't think she should be criticized, like I said. LSU deserves it. They played so well. Like I said, I'm a big fan of hers."

Angel and Caitlin are totally cool with each other.

The Maryland native told WH that while she and Caitlin may "talk trash" on the court, it's just part of the game.

“Me and Caitlin Clark don't hate each other," she said in a March 2024 press conference ahead of their rematch. "I want everybody to understand that. It's just a super-competitive game. Once I get between those lines, there's no friends. I'm going to talk trash to you. I'm going to do whatever it takes to get in your head the whole entire game, but after the game, we can kick it. I don't think people really realize that.”

Caitlin added that there are a lot of similarities between her and Angel. “There's definitely that competitive fire,” she said, per ESPN. “Both of us want to win more than anything, and that's how it should be when you're a competitor and you get into a situation like this, whether it was the national championship, whether it's the Elite Eight.”

The Hawkeye said their competitiveness is the “main similarity” between them. “We both grew up loving this game, and we're going to do anything we can to help our teams win,” she said.

Basketball fans are equating their competitive rivalry to NBA players Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, who had a years-long battle on the court from college to the pros. But Caitlin and Angel don't see it the same way. “People do compare that matchup all the time, but I've never seen the matchup, so I'm not really familiar with it,” Angel said in a 2024 press conference, per ESPN. Caitlin added that she hasn't seen clips of the rivalry, according to the New York Post.

But Angel told WH that she has no problem with the comparison. “If that’s who we are, then okay, cool," she said. "I think we're both happy about what's going on."

Off the court, both Caitlin and Angel share the same goal of bringing women's basketball to a larger audience.

"Everybody thinks that we’re at each other but me and her know [we're not], and that’s all that matters," Angel said during LSU's October 2023 media day. “I don’t care about anything that’s negative. When you know the person and what they’re genuine intentions are, being able to know that we did something big, that we grew women’s basketball. That’s all that matters.”

And besides, Angel said she's too focused on her future in basketball to care about what's been said about her and Caitlin in the past. Angel looks forward to "that camaraderie going into WNBA and just being able to grow as much as we can," she told WH. "[I'm] authentically, unapologetically myself, and I hope I can inspire—and have inspired other women—to do the same thing."

Angel supported Caitlin during her record-breaking year.

Caitlin had an impressive 2024, smashing the all-time NCAA Division 1 scoring record—for men's and women's basketball—earlier this month. And Angel was there to cheer her on the entire time.

“Congratulations @CaitlinClark22 KEEP BREAKING RECORDS & MAKING HER-STORY!” Angel wrote on X (formerly known as Twitter) when Caitlin broke the women's record in February.

They both went pro during the WNBA draft.

In April, both players were selected during the 2024 WNBA draft: Caitlin went first to the Fever, while Angel was picked up seventh by the Sky. Since then, both players survived roster cuts to make their WNBA debuts.

And while Caitlin has had a rockin' individual performance, the Sky are eighth in the league, while the Fever have fallen to eleventh.

Caitlin was fouled by one of Angel’s teammates.

In their first post-collegiate matchup, Chennedy Carter knocked Caitlin to the ground. Angel was photographed clapping, which caused headlines and a ton of renewed attention on this feud.

The WNBA upgraded the foul to a Flagrant 1, per Deadline. Fouls hold different points tracked by the league, that can add up to a suspension.

Angel was fined for not speaking to the media

After the game, Angel declined to speak with reporters. The league fined the newbie $1,000 for not complying with the media requirements, per Deadline.

All eyes will certainly be on these two as the season continues!

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