From Wintrust to the Met Gala, Angel Reese provides new star power to Chicago sports

CHICAGO — When it comes to Angel Reese, saying the (Chicago) Sky is the limit may not do her justice.

Reese celebrated her 22nd birthday Monday by participating in her two loves, basketball and fashion, in a manner few in the hoops world — Regardless of whether they are male or female — have had the opportunity to experience.

Reese went through morning practices Monday, just three days after she debuted with the WNBA franchise that made her a lottery pick, before flying to New York to walk the red carpet at the prestigious Met Gala.

“I work with an amazing group and I’ve always been into fashion,” Reese said. “My marketing team, they’ve done a great job and got me the invite. I don’t really know the ins and outs, they just told me I was invited.”

Reese already has a laundry list of impressive connections. The dress she donned at the Met Gala on Monday was a piece from 16 Arlington, an Italian-centric luxury fashion brand based out of London, with Naomi Elizee, an editor for Vogue Magazine, being the connection who put together the vision for Reese to don the dress.

“Naomi’s so dope. She puts together a lot of things for me that I probably didn’t think I would wear,” Reese said. “But being able to tap in to different kinds of things and [see things] outside the box, that’s what fashion is like — Being able to think outside the box.”

After being photographed in the shimmering seafoam green ensemble, Reese took a seat at a table alongside the likes of Dwyane Wade and Cardi B — Basketball and pop culture icons the newly minted “Chi-Town Barbie” has already developed a relationship with before stepping out at the Met Gala.

“A lot of great people were at that table,” Reese said of her seating arrangements. “I mean, I’ve met Cardi already because I was in a music video with her and we just chatted the whole night. She’s like a mom. So, just being able to have her support and everything. She’s asked me if I’m okay, and she’s gonna try to come to the game when we play in New York.

“I was able to talk to D-Wade, he was there too. So many people recognize me, being able to know me just outside of basketball. It’s just something that I’ve always wanted … Being able to be so impactful in this world is crazy and amazing.”

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‘Maximize your 24 hours’

While the impact of anything Reese does bears weight — The rookie basketball star has nearly seven million followers combined across Instagram, TikTok, X and Facebook — Internet critics have speculated on a lack of work ethic and dedication to the game of basketball from the former NCAA national champion, which she indirectly addressed Tuesday.

“Maximize your 24 hours, being able to set a schedule. I know what I was going to do from the beginning of the day to the end,” Reese said. “I have an amazing team. My coaches being able to allow me to go to something like [the Met Gala]. Obviously, I come to practice because that’s my priority here and what has gotten me to where I am today, which is basketball.

“I have an amazing team outside of there. So, I come to practice, I have my schedule and everything ready in the morning and then it’s just being able to do both things.”

After a day of dashing to the hoop by morning, and fueling fashion discourse by night, Reese and her teammates beat the brakes off the reigning Eastern Conference champion New York Liberty, 101-53, in a preseason matchup highlighted by Reese going straight into the chest of two-time WNBA MVP and champion Breanna Stewart.

Reese wound up finishing the game with 13 points, five rebounds and two steals on 6/10 shooting with a +/- of +32.

“This team is so much fun, there’s so many different personalities on the team. I love that for us,” Reese said before the game Tuesday. “Being able to have a coaching staff that is so open and understanding of who you are. [Head Coach Teresa Witherspoon] literally works me out so, that really is some of the relationship I love to have.

“And just being in Chicago, they’ve always embraced me, the culture here is amazing.”

Despite being in the city for less than a month, Reese has already acclimated well to the city.

Last week, Reese adventured to a Chicago staple, Harold’s Chicken, and was so impressed, she said their food was “bussin'” and declared Harold’s as her new favorite chicken spot in Chicago.

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“Harold’s Chicken is bussin’. I ain’t going to lie to you,” Reese said. “In Baltimore, we’ve got Hip-Hop Chicken. Harold’s Chicken here, we’ve got Blue Store in [Baton Rouge] — I’m just trying to see which one is the best one.”

Reese, a native of Randallstown in the northern suburbs of Baltimore, ultimately conceded Hip-Hop Chicken reigns supreme in her opinion, but when looking at the wider world of sports culture in Chicago, she sees little difference between her hometown, college town and pro sports town.

They all have, and will continue to be, environments that foster a supportive environment where athletes across the spectrum of sports can thrive.

“No it’s the same thing. Everything is popping. All these sports are popping,” Reese said. “It’s not just women’s basketball. It’s not just football. Everything in the city [is] popping … I just love that for us all, being able to support each other in so many different sports, it’s cool and I love sports. I’m gonna be going to all the games, all different kinds of sports so, I’m excited for it.”

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