Bully Ball: Why Angel Reese Should Stay The Villain

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Jack Slemenda Contributor
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Magic Johnson had Larry Bird, Michael Jordan had Isiah Thomas and LeBron James has Steph Curry. No matter which side of the rivalry people stood on, each one had two important things: a heroic player who was nationally loved and a villain who drew hate from every corner of the nation.

These were great matchups to watch that promised viewers physical basketball, back-and-forth series and tons of on- and off-the-court drama.

There has not been a prevalent women’s basketball rivalry ever until briefly during the 2023 and 2024 college basketball March Madness tournaments. Those tournaments produced two key matchups between Caitlin Clark’s Iowa Hawkeyes and Angel Reese’s LSU Tigers, sparking the rivalry that has carried into the WNBA.

It is no secret that Clark has been painted as the savior of women’s basketball since she was selected first overall by the Indiana Fever in the 2024 WNBA draft. Her flashy three-point shooting ability paired with her “nice girl” attitude toward the media pits her as this rivalry’s hero figure.

However, Angel Reese has been the thorn in Clark and the WNBA’s side since those March tournaments, and was selected eighth overall by the Chicago Sky this year.

Reese is quite the character on and off the court. With a team leading 37 personal fouls and one ejection, the bully or “mean girl” mentality is there. (RELATED: Sky’s Angel Reese Ejected Against Liberty After Tiff With Referee)

The June 1 matchup between Clark’s Fever and Reese’s Sky showed that the rivalry from their college days is very much alive. Reese’s teammate Chennedy Carter laid Caitlin Clark out with a football-like hip check, prompting the officials to give Carter a flagrant foul. Right after the altercation happened, Reese was seen clapping and cheering her teammate on. Reese did not address the media after the game, earning her a fine from the WNBA.

That matchup averaged 1.5 million viewers, according to Sportsnaut, the fourth most-watched game in 22 years. Days later, Reese took the perfect shot at Clark in an interview with WGN Sports: “The reason why we’re watching women’s basketball is not just because of one person. It’s because of me too.”

I don’t even need to go into the more recent news surrounding Reese, when she claimed a cameraman harassed her and other Sky players outside of a hotel, to show why she is viewed the way she is. (RELATED: Sky’s Angel Reese Alleges ‘Nasty Work’ Harassment, But Video Tells A Completely Different Story)

This kind and innocent hero versus rude and physical villain rivalry is working for the WNBA. Ratings are dramatically up, fan attendance is up and for once the WNBA is in headlines over and over again.

Reese is the villain the WNBA needs, plain and simple. Yes, her post game interviews and harassment allegations can be annoying to watch and read at times. Yes, she is playing bully ball on the court and putting up fouls left and right. Who cares? This rivalry is causing people to pay attention to women’s basketball, and I’m here for it. I look forward to years of this rivalry and hope that it doesn’t die out anytime soon.