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WNBA great turns Angel Reese ‘bully’ question into Caitlin Clark accusation

WNBA legend Sheryl Swoopes wasn’t impressed when former NBA point guard Gilbert Arenas said Sky rookie Angel Reese was a “bully” on the court.

His recent “Gills Arena” PodcastArenas and Swoopes discussed the controversy surrounding a flagrant foul that Reese committed on Kaitlyn Clark during Sunday’s game between Chicago and the Fever.

Arenas said he doesn’t think Reese is a dirty player, explaining that she is “built to be a bully” with her “rough style” of play, while Clark is all about mistakes.

Gilbert Arenas and Sheryl Swoopes talk about Angel Reese and Kaitlyn Clark’s foul play and WNBA storylines on the June 17, 2024 “Gill’s Arena” podcast. YouTube/Gills Arena

“She’s not a bully,” said Swoopes, a three-time WNBA MVP. “If you want to talk about bullies, talk about when Kaitlyn was a bully. [Clark] “She’s got the ball, so she’s pushing it. I’m just saying.”

Reese was called for five fouls, mostly in the paint, but was whistled for a Flagrant 1 after his forearm struck Fever guard Clark in the head as the guard was driving toward the basket.

Reese then called it a basketball play, and Clark explained that physical toughness and competitiveness have a positive impact on the game.

Sheryl Swoopes and Gilbert Arenas discuss Angel Reese and Kaitlyn Clark’s foul play and WNBA storylines on the June 17, 2024, “Gill’s Arena” podcast. YouTube/Gills Arena

Arenas explained that Reese’s hard fouls attract media attention because she is committed to playing the villain.

“She can control herself physically,” Arenas said, comparing Reese to Warriors star Draymond Green, who has been suspended by the NBA multiple times for his aggressive play. “…Her style of play is tough. She’s built to fight. She puts her helmet on and she fights. It doesn’t matter who the opponent is.”

“…Wang is a flopper. I know that. I understand that. … Wang was born to flop. That’s how she’s built her game. So I feel like any contact she’s going to flop a little bit and that’s how she sells her fouls.”

“But Angel is tough. She was born to bully. She’s a bully. Nobody has sympathy for a bully.”

Chicago Sky’s Angel Reese (No. 5) reacts after being fouled by Indiana Fever’s Caitlin Clark (No. 22) during the second half of a game at Gainbridge Fieldhouse on June 16, 2024 in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Getty Images
Chicago Sky’s Angel Reese (number 5) fouls Indiana Fever’s Caitlin Clark (number 22) during the second half of a game at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Indiana on June 16, 2024.
Getty Images

Arenas added that Reese and Clark came into the WNBA with celebrity status, so they are both under intense scrutiny.

“They want to post this video because they want to get a lot of likes and reposts, but that’s a basketball play,” Swoopes said of Reese’s foul. “She hit herself in the head, so obviously that should be upgraded to Flagrant 1. The ref saw it and upgraded it. Can you keep playing basketball?”

“My point is, every time Kaitlyn gets fouled, she shouldn’t look like she’s been assaulted. Fouls are a part of basketball. You look at different games, players, clips. A’ja Wilson had a bloody nose and bruised eyes against Dallas. That’s basketball.”

“…Then I got on social media and immediately thought, ‘Oh, she’s trying to take her down.’ [and] “‘She should be suspended.’ Who are you and what have you done?”

Chicago Sky forward Angel Reese (5) looks for an available teammate during a game at Gainbridge Fieldhouse, Sunday, June 16, 2024, in Indianapolis. Jacob Musselman/USA TODAY NETWORK

The podcast episode, titled “Gill’s Arena Battle for Caitlin Clark vs. Angel Reese,” revolved around the Clark vs. Reese debate.

The conversation began with Swoopes explaining that when Sun star Alyssa Thomas was ejected for a hard foul on Reese in Connecticut’s 86-82 win over the Sky on May 25, there was not nearly as much furore as there was when Sky guard Chennedy Carter committed a flagrant foul on Clark in the Fever’s win over the Sky on June 1.

“But she has Allen Iverson and [Steph] “Curry’s light, he can hit you, he can do some sneaky stuff, and when he gets hit he goes down like a flop,” Arenas said. “That’s the beauty of being a guard.”

Indiana Fever guard Caitlin Clark (22) dribbles past Chicago Sky guard Chennedy Carter (7) during a game at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Sunday, June 16, 2024.
Jacob Musselman/IndyStar/USA Today Network

Swoopes explained that he was frustrated by the one-sided nature of the discussion.

“Basketball is a physical sport,” she said, “and that’s the reality. I think the things people are doing and saying about Angel Reese and Chennedy Carter and the Chicago Sky are coming from people who don’t really know or understand basketball.”

Swoopes also said during his appearance on Arenas’ podcast that he expects Reese, who is averaging a double-double at the time, to win Rookie of the Year.

“To me, what Angel brings to the table is she plays hard and that’s it. It doesn’t matter who the opponent is. Rebounding is an effort and I want that more than you do. That’s the best part of Angel’s game right now.”

The Fever will play the Mystics in Indiana on Wednesday, while the Sky will face the Wings in Chicago on Thursday.

Chicago will host Indiana on Sunday.

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