Stephen A. Smith Compares Caitlin Clark-Angel Reese Rivalry To Kareem Abdul-Jabbar-Larry Bird

Apr 15, 2024; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Angel Reese and Caitlin Clark pose for photos before the 2024 WNBA Draft at Brooklyn Academy of Music. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 15, 2024; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Angel Reese and Caitlin Clark pose for photos before the 2024 WNBA Draft at Brooklyn Academy of Music. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports / Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The WNBA is more popular than ever, largely due to the latest draft class featuring Caitlin Clark (Indiana Fever), Angel Reese (Chicago Sky), and Cameron Brink (Los Angeles Sparks).

Clark and Reese are beginning to develop a rivalry early in their careers, but analyst Stephen A. Smith isn't buying into it. Smith compared their clash to NBA legends Kareem Abdul Jabbar and Magic Johnson, pointing out the difference in position.

"I do not view this as much of a rivalry in this respect. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar ain't competing with Larry Bird as much as Magic Johnson was going up against Larry Bird," Smith said on First Take.

Bird and Johnson faced off three timesin the NBA Finals (1984, 1985, and 1987), with the Lakers Hall of Famer winning twice. The superstars established themselves as two of the best players of all-time, earning a combined eight rings and six MVPs.

"Even though Larry Bird was a forward and Magic Johnson was a point guard, both of them 6'8-6'9, they were going up against one another, and their responsibilities to their teams were similar," Smith said. "Angel Reese is a damn good player that I think has a very bright future in the WNBA. I view Caitlin Clark as the female Steph Curry. Now, that's no shade on [Sabrina] Ionescu because she showed up All-Star Weekend, but if Ionescu and Caitlin Clark were going at one another, that's a rivalry I'm willing to entertain because their games are similar."

Johnson and Bird had completely different play styles, but many believe the competitive nature of their era made the rivalry so strong. Clark and Reese's battles were recently brought into the spotlight, as the Sky forward was given a flagrant foul after she hit Clark on a drive to the basket during Sunday’s game.

Anthony Pasciolla works as a contributing writer to Inside the Heat. He can be reached at ampasciolla@gmail.com or follow him on X @AnthonyPasci.

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Anthony Pasciolla

ANTHONY PASCIOLLA