Magic Johnson: Caitlin Clark-Angel Reese Rivalry Reminds ‘Me a Lot of Larry Bird and Me’

Brian Spurlock_Icon Sportswire via Getty Images (3)
Brian Spurlock/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

NBA great Magic Johnson sees a little bit of himself in the ongoing WNBA rivalry between Indiana star Caitlin Clark and Chicago’s Angel Reese.

While with Michigan State, Johnson was famously involved in a bit of a rivalry of his own back in the 1970s when he went head-to-head with Indiana State’s Larry Bird. And, like Clark’s and Reese’s feud, the Johnson-Bird rivalry only continued when they went pro after Johnson joined the L.A. Lakers and Bird landed with the Boston Celtics.

The NBA championships bounced back and forth between the two teams as Bird and Johnson’s rivalry continued from one grudge match season to the next.

As far as Magic is concerned, the growing rivalry between Clark and Reese is all too familiar.

“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,” Johnson wrote in a post on X. “Caitlin and Angel’s 2023 NCAA Championship matchup and their 2024 Elite Eight games were the highest viewership records at the time.”

In a follow-up post, Johnson noted that with their rivalry, he and Bird brought a new level of popularity to the NBA.

“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,” he wrote.

“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,” Johnson concluded.

Clark, though, has waived the notion that there is a rivalry.

“I’m pretty sure that the only people who view this as a rivalry is all of you,” Clark told reporters on Friday. “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 seemed to agree, saying it was “just a competition.”

“It’s just competition,” Reese insisted. “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.”

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Facebook at:, or Truth Social @WarnerToddHuston


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.