Magic Johnson On Caitlin Clark And Angel Reese Getting Compared To Magic-Bird: ‘I Like That, And They Are’

The WNBA is exploding in popularity and taking huge strides in terms of being part of the general sports conversation this year (for better and worse, at times). A lot of the conversation is driven by Caitlin Clark’s popularity, as every move made by the Indiana Fever’s star rookie is being scrutinized and put under the microscope, but she’s joined in this year’s rookie class by the likes of Angel Reese and Cameron Brink, who entered the league with plenty of fanfare themselves.

Clark and Reese have developed a healthy rivalry dating back to their college days, as Reese’s LSU beat Clark’s Iowa for the national title in 2023, with Clark and the Hawkeyes exacting revenge in the Elite Eight this year. Now, as rookies, their games are marquee events when the Fever and the Chicago Sky meet, and that rich history of NCAA Tournament battles allowed for a foundation to already be there for a WNBA rivalry.

Some have compared it to Magic Johnson and Larry Bird’s arrival in the NBA, as they pushed the league to new heights of popularity thanks to their rivalry with the Lakers and Celtics — that started with a national championship game showdown when they were at Michigan State and Indiana State respectively. Johnson himself has heard the comparisons and told Jimmy Kimmel this past weekend that he agrees with the comps (4:30 mark of the above video), noting they’re elevating the league’s popularity immediately but now have to prove themselves against the WNBA’s established stars.

“We have to understand that both Caitlin, Angel, and [Cameron] Brink, who plays for my Sparks, they made the WNBA better,” Johnson told Kimmel. “And they’re going to be tested by these incredible women who have been in the league for a long time. Caitlin is the most popular WNBA player at this time. Just like Larry and I were not the best NBA players when we entered the league. We became the best later on by our play. Caitlin still has to play great to become the best WNBA player.”

Johnson also suggested Clark talk with Larry Bird, who would have some unique insight into her situation as someone from Indiana who once was in a very similar position when he arrived in Boston. Magic also said Caitlin could call him for advice, but felt Bird would be uniquely qualified to help her navigate things where she is now in Indiana.

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