5x NBA Champion Magic Johnson Thanks Lakers Legend Kobe Bryant Days After Historic Caitlin Clark-Angel Reese Clash: “Ladies Game Is on the Rise”

Published 04/10/2023, 6:23 AM EDT

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The battle between LSU and Iowa State for the NCAA women’s basketball championship was a spectacle. Record number of fans tuned in to watch the battle unfold as the Tigers set the record for most points scored by a team in an NCAA women’s championship game. Not only was it an exemplary display of basketball, but the air was all competitive. Two skilled superstars, Angel Reese and Caitlin Clark, fought it out in one of the most exciting championship games ever. Speaking about the rise of women’s basketball, Magic Johnson felt that one person responsible for this rise is none other than the late, great Kobe Bryant.

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During an interview with the Today show, the 5x NBA champion spoke about this year’s emphatic March Madness. While applauding the rise of women’s basketball, he also claimed the Black Mamba put together the pieces to make it a reality.

Magic Johnson credits Kobe Bryant for the rise of women’s basketball

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Speaking about the 2023 NCAA tournament, Johnson believes that women’s basketball is on its way to exploding. Feeling a need for exciting players to step up, his top pick was none other than Clark. Calling her the “female Stephen Curry“, the 12x NBA All-Star loved her swagger. More importantly, he feels women’s basketball needed players like her for the game to further progress.

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According to Magic Johnson, the biggest reason women’s basketball has garnered such success is due to Kobe Bryant. He told the Today Show, “You know, I want to thank also Kobe Bryant, the late Kobe Bryant. He worked out with a lot of these women who are in college basketball. So the game has exploded for women. We think about the ratings some of the highest they’ve ever had. We had so many superstars play like superstars, that’s what I like too. And so the lady’s game is on the rise.” 

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The NBA Great came bearing facts. The gritty battle between Angel Reese’s LSU and Iowa State drew 9.9 million viewers, a historic mark for a women’s NCAA championship game. In addition, the clash also shattered the women’s Final Four attendance record, filling up the American Airlines Center with 19,482 fans.

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Talents like Clark and Reese did their part in bringing excitement and swag to the event.

How the Mamba helped women’s Basketball

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More than anything, Kobe Bryant was a student and fan of basketball. The legendary shooting guard wanted nothing more than for the game to connect everyone. Only two weeks before his untimely death, the Black Mamba held a private camp for several WNBA players. Not just that, but he even worked as an AAU coach for his daughter Gianna’s team.

Post-retirement, he actively worked for the growth of women’s basketball. From doing commercials to training fine athletes, Bryant left no stone unturned. His 13-year-old daughter Gianna Bryant had a dream of one day making it to the WNBA. As a father and an advocate, that single vision became his motivation.

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The WNBA was heavily hurt after knowing about the passing of the NBA legend. Not only was he a true pioneer of basketball, but Kobe Bryant left a lasting impact on women’s basketball.

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Watch This Story: Ranking Kobe Bryant’s Five Championship Runs with the Los Angeles Lakers

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Written by:

Anuj Talwalkar

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Anuj Talwalkar is an NBA writer at EssentiallySports. He is a student studying at NM College in Mumbai, aspiring to pursue sports management to follow his love for sports. Anuj started following the NBA last year, and he loves to combine his passion for writing with his understanding of basketball.
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Edited by:

Pragya Vashisth

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