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Caitlin Clark and Angel Reese Brought Championship-Level Trash Talk to 2023

To those who paid attention to women’s basketball for the first time in March: It is never like this, but it is also always like this.

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There has never been a player like Iowa’s Caitlin Clark, who has a seemingly endless array of ways to get a bucket. But the feisty hypercompetitiveness that marked LSU’s defeat of Iowa in the NCAA title game? That’s basketball. If you didn’t know women talked trash just like the men, you literally haven’t been paying attention.

Iowa’s Caitlin Clark and LSU’s Angel Reese fight for a rebound.

Reese (center) and LSU beat Clark (left) and Iowa for the national title in April.

For all the bloviating this spring about Clark and LSU’s Angel Reese and trash talk and respect, the irony was that Clark and Reese did not have to say a word. They understood that there is a difference in sports between an enemy and an opponent. One you despise all day; the other, you loathe from buzzer to buzzer.

When Reese looked at Clark and pointed to her finger that would wear an LSU championship ring, that was not an insult. It was a compliment. Reese, as relentless on the boards as Clark is on the perimeter, was fired up that her team had risen to the challenge. Afterward, Clark did not sound upset that Reese celebrated—just that she had reason to do so. They speak a common language, baller to baller, and the respect was implicit, though they voiced it, anyway. Clark was the country’s best player, a cultural phenomenon. Reese was the rare thing Clark wants to be but isn’t: a national champion.