Every so often we witness a transcendent moment in sports. In boxing we’ve seen it with Ali/Frazier and Leonard/Duran.
In golf we saw it with Tiger Woods breaking through at the Masters. Michael Jordan gave us many such moments; so did Larry Bird and Magic Johnson.
And now, so has Iowa’s Caitlin Clark.
What we saw from her astonishing performance against 36-0 - now 36-1 - South Carolina was perhaps most like young Cassius Clay taking out Sonny Liston.
It was partly the brilliance of Clark, who scored 41 points and assisted on eight other baskets. She blew by her defenders for easy quick strike layups, hit threes and, when the game was in the balance, hit four of the most perfect free throws anyone has ever put up.
And when the game was over?
Her charisma was electrifying. It was a takeover of the game, pure and simple: she and her teammates took out a juggernaut and then she celebrated.
She exulted. She roared like a Roman gladiator. She jumped the tables and hugged her mom. She lapped the floor, demanding the fans acknowledge that they had seen greatness, then she went over and took over the ESPN panel too.
We can’t think of anyone since Jordan who had anywhere near this much charisma. People will tell their grandchildren that they saw this game.
Our old pal Steve Politi posted on Twitter that it felt like an historic moment in the game. He’s so right. Women's basketball changed in Dallas Friday night. It’s somewhere else now, and it’s a really good place.