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Magic Johnson compares Caitlin Clark-Angel Reese rivalry to his with Larry Bird

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Los Angeles Lakers legend Magic Johnson made a bold comparison on Monday when he wrote on social media about budding WNBA stars Caitlin Clark and Angel Reese.

While Clark and Reese have both downplayed any notion of a rivalry between the two, Johnson compared their situation to his and Larry Bird when the two were in the NBA in the late 1970s.

Johnson and Bird’s rivalry culminated in a 1979 National Championship game between Magic’s Michigan State and Larry’s Indiana State. The game marked the beginning of a lengthy rivalry that veered into the NBA between the Lakers and Boston Celtics. Multiple NBA championships were won between the two players, and Johnson thinks he is seeing the same in the WNBA.

“When I think about Caitlin Clark and Angel Reese’s impact on the game, they remind me a lot of Larry Bird and me. Our first meeting, Indiana State vs. Michigan State, in the NCAA Championship set the all-time viewership record for men’s basketball,” he wrote on X. “Caitlin and Angel’s 2023 NCAA Championship matchup and their 2024 Elite Eight games were the highest viewership records at the time.


Larry Bird and Magic Johnson in 1992

“Larry and I heightened the NBA’s overall popularity. The Lakers and Celtics sold out arenas throughout the league and increased television viewership exponentially. The higher viewership numbers led to the NBA signing significantly larger TV contracts which then led to higher salaries for the players. 

“Caitlin and Angel are now doing the same thing, selling out arenas and increasing the viewership. They have taken women’s basketball by storm and with expiring TV deals on the horizon, the WNBA is now in a position to negotiate higher TV contracts and increase salaries for all of the talented players.”

The Chicago Sky edged the Indiana Fever, 88-87, behind Reese’s eighth straight double-double. Clark set a Fever franchise record for most assists in a game with 13.

However, neither has confirmed that a rivalry is building between the two.

“I’m pretty sure that the only people who view this as a rivalry is all of you,” Clark told reporters after her Fever beat the Atlanta Dream on Friday night. “For us, it’s just a game of basketball. That’s what it is. If it’s going to help move the game forward, then absolutely. That’s amazing. That’s what it should be. People can talk about it.”

Reese was asked about it by ESPN’s Holly Rowe after Sunday’s game.

Caitlin Clark and Angel Reese at the draft

“It’s just competition,” Reese said. “I mean, they still got us, they are one up on us. So I’m just happy for the team. And I want to make it about us. Chicago, they came out tonight, so I’m just happy for us.”

Whatever they call it, it’s been must-watch TV for the WNBA.

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