Caitlin Clark vs. Angel Reese beef history, explained: What Iowa and LSU stars have said since 2023 championship clash

Caitlin Clark vs. Angel Reese beef history, explained: What Iowa and LSU stars have said since 2023 championship clash

Angel Reese and Caitlin Clark are the faces of women’s college basketball during the 2024 NCAA Tournament.

Both catapulted to stardom during last year’s championship game, which saw Reese and LSU claim their first national title against Clark and the Hawkeyes.

That game drew a bigger audience than ever before, averaging 9.9 million viewers and peaking with 12.6 million. And every one of those viewers bore witness to Reese and Clark’s fierce competitiveness.

Neither has slowed this season. Reese and LSU have courted controversy, and Clark has received criticism for her intense style of play (and her complaints to referees).

But both more than lived up to expectations in stellar campaigns. And now they’re on a collision course with a potential Elite Eight matchup looming.

Due to their intensity — and Reese’s famous hand-waving in Clark’s direction — during the 2023 national championship game, the pair are considered rivals and even enemies on the court. The Sporting News revisits their supposed feud, which comes down to respect between two fierce competitors.

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Caitlin Clark vs. Angel Reese beef history, explained

There’s nothing but appreciation — and a healthy dose of competitive spirit — between Reese and Clark. The two continuously shut down rumors of any supposed beef in the months following the national championship game.

In reality, their time as friends, and opponents, stretches much farther back than their collegiate careers.

MORE: Are Iowa and LSU on track for a rematch?

“Oh my gosh, I love Caitlin. We’ve been competing since we were in AAU,” Reese said during LSU’s media day in October 2023. “It was always fun, always competitive. One day, hopefully, we could even be teammates. She is a great player, shooter, person and teammate.

“I don’t care about anything that’s negative. When you know the person and what they’re genuine intentions are, being able to know that we did something big, that we grew women’s basketball. That’s all that matters.”

The Bayou Barbie made two gestures during the national championship, hitting the “You can’t see me” hand wave and pointing at her ring finger, with Clark just a few steps away.

ANGEL REESE HIT CAITLIN CLARK WITH THE “YOU CAN’T SEE ME” 👀 pic.twitter.com/Zj3mqIzkk9

— ESPN (@espn) April 2, 2023

After LSU won, critics came after Reese’s trash-talking. But Clark, who made the same “You can’t see me” gesture earlier in the tournament, didn’t let that fly.

“I don’t think Angel should be criticized at all,” she said in an ESPN interview two days later. “No matter which way it goes, she should never be criticized for what she did. I’m just one that competes, and she competed. I think everybody knew there was going to be a little trash talk. It’s not just me and Angel.

“That should never be torn down. That should never be criticized because I believe that’s what makes this game so fun. That’s what draws people to this game. That’s how I’m going to continue to play. That’s how every girl should continue to play.”

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Despite the narrative constructed in the aftermath of the national championship game, one which Reese has called “frustrating,” the two remain supportive of each other’s accomplishments. At least when they’re not sharing the court.

Congratulations @CaitlinClark22 KEEP BREAKING RECORDS & MAKING HER-STORY! 🖤💛🔥 https://t.co/jWn7QZZdkQ

— Angel Reese (@Reese10Angel) February 16, 2024

But even ahead of their 2023 national championship rematch in the 2024 Elite Eight, Reese, once again, affirmed that she and Clark have no real beef.

“I don’t think people realize it’s not personal,” Reese said in an interview with ESPN’s Andrea Adelson.

“… I think people just take it like we hate each other. Me and Caitlin Clark don’t hate each other. I want everybody to understand that,” Reese went on.

“It’s just a super-competitive game. Once I get between those lines, there’s no friends. I’m going to talk trash to you. I’m going to do whatever it takes to get in your head the whole entire game, but after the game, we can kick it. I don’t think people really realize that.

“That’s fine. I’ll take the villain role. I’ll take the hit for it, but I know we’re growing women’s basketball. If this is the way we’re going to do it, then this is the way we’re going to do it. You either like it or you don’t.”

Clark reassured Reese’s stance on their perceived relationship ahead of the Elite Eight, too.

“There’s definitely that competitive fire,” Clark told ESPN. “Both of us want to win more than anything, and that’s how it should be when you’re a competitor and you get into a situation like this, whether it was the national championship, whether it’s the Elite Eight.

“I think that’s the main similarity is how competitive we are. We both grew up loving this game, and we’re going to do anything we can to help our teams win.”

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