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Saturday Sports: College basketball, NBA all-star weekend, Kansas City parade shooting

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

And now it's time for sports.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SIMON: Caitlin Clark, record breaker, history maker. Sabrina versus Steph for the three-point crown. And tragedy at a Super Bowl celebration. Christine Brennan of USA Today joins us. Christine, thanks so much for being with us.

CHRISTINE BRENNAN: My pleasure, Scott. Thank you.

SIMON: Caitlin Clark, wow. Iowa Hawkeyes - she broke the NCAA women's basketball scoring record this week, 49 points against Michigan. Biggest name in sports right now?

BRENNAN: I think so. Greatest show in sports, certainly. The joy with which she plays, Scott, the confidence, the certainty of those logo threes. And when we say logo threes, that means she's shooting from where the logo is at center court. So it's well, well beyond the three-point line. And what she did as I was watching and probably you and many other thousands - probably well over a million - watching her break that record of Kelsey Plum, she - bang, bang, bang - three shots. It was two minutes and 12 or 13 seconds, eight points, including two threes. And that magnificent three, as I said, from the logo, at Iowa, where she is beloved, her home state, her college - everything about her.

But it's not just in Iowa, Scott, as you know. She is the personification of a new, latter-day Harlem Globetrotters - barnstorming the country, selling out arenas. I was one of those people with family who bought tickets at University of Maryland a couple of weeks ago. No press pass for me. I wanted to see it in...

SIMON: Aw.

BRENNAN: ...Person as a fan sees it. She is just a singular athlete with those threes, where we can watch every move she makes. And, obviously, just the greatest female athlete in terms of basketball point total and scoring. And she's about to break the overall record - just 99 points to Pete Maravich - means she would be the greatest male or female in Division I. And there's Lynette Woodard who played before the NCAA. Caitlin Clark will pass her with 81 more points, so a couple more records yet to go for her.

SIMON: Yeah. A few days until March Madness. Do you think this year there's going to be more interest in the women's tournament than the men's?

BRENNAN: I do. I really do. Obviously, Caitlin Clark. But it's not just Caitlin Clark. And, of course, there's no guarantee Iowa's going to make the Final Four again. They were in the championship game last year against LSU. That was riveting and just fast - in controversy and everything. It had it all. But even without Caitlin Clark and Iowa, you've got South Carolina, Dawn Staley, the great coach. This is a No. 1 ranked team. You've got, of course, the stories of UConn. You've got teams in the West now - USC with JuJu Watkins, a great young star. These are names we know.

What happens in men's basketball now, unfortunately or fortunately, as the case may be - depending on if you're old school or new school - is that a lot of them are one and done. And that means they play for a year, and then they go on to play professionally in, you know, NBA draft, whatever. That's great. But what it does - it lessens the connection between the fans and the alums and those players at that school. And so we just don't know the names as much. So I do think this is the year where everyone should be doing a women's bracket as well as a men's, and that the men's may take, you know, a back seat to the women's tournament. These are sentences, by the way, Scott, I never would have thought I...

SIMON: Ah.

BRENNAN: ...Would have uttered. That's how significant this is.

SIMON: And let's just note quickly, Sabrina Ionescu of the New York Liberty stands a legitimate chance to defeat Steph Curry of Golden State tonight in the three-point shootout, don't they...

BRENNAN: Right.

SIMON: ...Doesn't she?

BRENNAN: She does. And great respect there. You know Billie Jean and Bobby Riggs, years ago, a lot of animosity. Not here. These two have great respect. And Steph Curry, who has taken his daughters to watch Sabrina play, he thinks she might beat her - beat him. And that's possible. The three-point line will be the NBA three-point line, which is about three feet longer than the women's. And Sabrina feels very comfortable shooting from there. And this is going to be great fun to watch. The battle of the sexes, so to speak.

SIMON: Of course, terrible tragedy at the Super Bowl victory parade in Kansas City. There are two juveniles in custody now. One person was killed, 22 - most of them children - injured. Is this America now?

BRENNAN: I'm afraid it is. I mean, think about it, Scott, as - you know, as we all have over the last few days. Super Bowl parade and, of course, mass shooting. And you just can't believe it. But this is where we are, and it is believable. What we have seen is the Kansas City Chiefs rise up. Patrick Mahomes and his wife were at the hospital seeing some of the kids. Travis Kelce has donated money. Taylor Swift has donated money to the poor woman - the fund to - for her funeral and expenses - the woman who was killed. And we're going to see a lot more of that as this community bonds together.

SIMON: Christine Brennan, always a pleasure to talk to you. Thanks so much.

BRENNAN: Thank you, Scott.

(SOUNDBITE OF SHANGHAI RESTORTATION PROJECT'S "MISS SHANGHAI REVEALED") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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Scott Simon is one of America's most admired writers and broadcasters. He is the host of Weekend Edition Saturday and is one of the hosts of NPR's morning news podcast Up First. He has reported from all fifty states, five continents, and ten wars, from El Salvador to Sarajevo to Afghanistan and Iraq. His books have chronicled character and characters, in war and peace, sports and art, tragedy and comedy.
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