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Magic Johnson Embraces Theory That Caitlin Clark And Angel Reese Compare To Larry Bird And Himself

The Indiana Fever’s rookie sensation Caitlin Clark has dominated WNBA discourse since the season began, spawning several divisive narratives, but also a spike in the league’s viewership. The Chicago Sky’s rookie Angel Reese hasn’t held her tongue on the part she plays in Clark being so big, and Magic Johnson recently compared the two hoopers’ rivalry to his legendary feud with Larry Bird.

The Los Angeles Lakers legend appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live and gave his thoughts on whether Clark was being targeted by veterans within the WNBA. He likened it to his own experiences in the NBA, saying “Veterans are going to test you […] If they feel that you’ve gotten more money or more publicity, they’re upset about that.” He alluded to his experience on his first day of training camp with the Lakers, insinuating that this was par for the course. However, Johnson asserted that Clark’s teammates ought to stand up for her.

“Now, Caitlin, her teammates gotta come to her defense,” he said. “You can’t allow her to have to fight every battle. But we have to understand Caitlin, Angel, and [Cameron] Brink who plays for my Sparks, they make the WNBA better and they’re going to be tested by these incredible women who’ve been in the league for a long time.”

Pundits have regularly claimed that Caitlin Clark is why the WNBA has more viewers, now receives chartered flights to away games, and several other perks. Johnson agreed, but clarified that Clark still has some way to go. “Caitlin is the most popular WNBA player but she’s not the best at this time, just like Larry and I were not the best when we entered the league,” he said. “We became the best later on by our play. Caitlin still has to play great to become the best WNBA player.”

As for those calling Clark and Reese the Bird and Magic of the WNBA, he said that he likes the comparison. He even believed that the Fever guard could benefit from reaching out to the three-time NBA Champion, who is an Indiana native.

“I think that he could give her great advice on how to handle this situation because he went through it himself,” Johnson said, also offering himself as a resource to the young star. “It would be a perfect situation. He already lived there, grew up in Indiana, on and on and on. I think it would be great.”

The Caitlin Clark discourse heightened after Chicago Sky’s guard Chennedy Carter dished out a hard foul in their matchup earlier this month. Clark did not retaliate, instead simply stating that it “was not a basketball play” during an interview. Carter refused to discuss Clark in the postgame press conference and later questioned what she offers to the league besides three-point shooting.

In an interview days later, Angel Reese spoke up and claimed credit for Clark being as big as she is after their iconic college matchup in 2023. Reese, who played for LSU, used the John Cena “You Can’t See Me” taunt and pointed to her ring finger after defeating Clark’s Iowa Hawkeyes in the 2023 women’s national championship. This moment, and the subsequent analysis, made both hoopers two of the biggest names in sports, and that has followed them to the WNBA.

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