Basketball’s Fierce Competitors: Reese and Clark’s on-court Persona


Angel Reese and Caitlin Clark want to clear the air before they take to the court on Monday. Neither bears a grudge or harbors any anger toward the other. And there will be trash talking when LSU and Iowa play in the Albany 2 Elite Eight.

“Caitlin Clark and I do not detest each other. I want everyone to understand that. “It’s just a very competitive game,” Reese remarked Sunday. “Once I get between those lines, there are no friends. I have a lot of buddies on the court whom I chat with outside of the game, but when it comes to those lines, we’re not pals. We aren’t buddies. I’m going to talk trash with you. I’m going to do everything it takes to get inside your head throughout the game, but afterward, we can kick it.”

Clark agrees: “Angel and I have always been tremendous competitors. She played in the Big Ten early in her career, and that’s what makes women’s basketball so enjoyable: excellent competition, which we’ve had all season. I believe Angel would say the same.”

The two maintain mutual respect, and they will continue to play their game with passion. Reese and Clark will be noisy, whether they are trying to get into their opponent’s head or to fire up their teammates and the fans.

And it is exactly what we should want.

“I watch ballgames all the time,” LSU coach Kim Mulkey said. “Was that Luka Doncic, the other day, waving goodbye to [former Kings general manager Vlade Divac] because he did not draft him? “You see it all the time.”

Mulkey also mentioned that one of her favorite memories was seeing the 1984 US men’s basketball team compete against elite men’s pro players. Mulkey described sitting courtside, fascinated by the men’s competition — and yeah, talking trash and firing swear words, taunts, and more.

“I couldn’t stop watching the garbage those guys said. “It’s sports,” Mulkey explained. “I don’t choose to focus on that since you see it all the time when you turn on and watch professional games. I was a trash talker. I mean, thank God I didn’t have all of you following me with cameras and everything.”

If anything, Reese and Clark find the assumptions about what is spoken between the lines perplexing. Earlier in the Albany region, Clark clarified the apparent feud she had with, of all people, her father.

“The first thing is that I never spoke to my father,” Clark said Friday. “I’m not sure why people thought that. My father is my biggest supporter. He’s actually my best friend, and he was my first basketball coach and has always been there.”

While Clark has learned over the years that all eyes will be on her, she has no intention of modifying her strategy for the game.

If you want to start a decency war, ask about Draymond Green’s repeated out-of-control antics or Brad Marchand licking opponents’ faces on the ice. In women’s basketball, LSU and Iowa players are not modifying their game to appeal to social media.

“It is our personality. It’s what makes the game enjoyable for us,” LSU guard Hailey Van Lith explained. “I believe that many people make assumptions because they do not understand what we are saying or the context. That is beyond our control… yet it does not imply we will change.”

Van Lith, Reese, and Clark understand that at the end of the day, they are performers. Some components of trash talk are isolated to the players between the lines, while others are designed to increase the game’s entertainment value. While this exposes the players to criticism, Van Lith isn’t too concerned.

“You can choose to focus on the people that say bad things about it, but at the end of the day, they’re talking online for a reason,” Van Lith went on to remark. “… They would never be in that situation to begin with because they’re too busy commenting on other people’s lives.”

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