Jemele Hill, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird

Jemele Hill Compares Angel Reese/Caitlin Clark Rivalry To Magic Johnson/Larry Bird’s

The sports journalist feels that both rivalries re-energized their leagues.

The rivalry of WNBA rookies, Angel Reese of the Chicago Sky and Caitlin Clark of the Indiana Fever, which started during their college days, has summoned memories of another collegiate rivalry that jumpstarted interest in the NBA in the 1980s.

Sports journalist Jemele Hill likened the ladies’ comparison to the one between Los Angeles Lakers legend Magic Johnson and Boston Celtics’ Larry Bird, who had a fierce rivalry when they played at Michigan State University and Indiana State University, respectively.

Interest in the WNBA has been at its strongest since the league started in 1997, and many have attributed that to the emergence of Clark, who was picked number one in the recent draft. Although the league has been around for almost 30 years, just like the NBA in the 1980s, there was renewed interest right after Clark and Reese entered the WNBA.

Hill appeared on TMZ and mentioned the women’s rivalry spilling from the college ranks and entering the WNBA in the same way Magic and Bird’s interaction laid the groundwork for their rivalry to reach another height in the NBA.

“Caitlin Clark was certainly surging in popularity before she and Angel Reese crossed paths,” she said “But the moment Angel Reese did the [you can’t see me gesture], this rivalry and the conversation around them both went to a completely different level.”

The two women met in the NCAA playoffs two straight years. Reese and LSU bested Clark and Indiana in 2023 on their way to taking home the NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship. Earlier this year, the teams matched up in the semifinals, with Iowa beating LSU.

Indiana lost to the eventual unbeaten champions, the University of South Carolina.

“That’s why Larry Bird and Magic Johnson is an appropriate comparison. Larry Bird and Magic Johnson had the most watched men’s national championship game in history. I believe they still have the record.” Hill said. “They brought all of that with them to the NBA. They had a rivalry from that game and brought all that to the NBA.”