On the Caitlin Clark Drama

Thom Weidlich 06.06.24


Caitlin Clark, the WNBA rookie super-duper star, had quite the drama-filled few days. She was body checked during a game. Then a competing player complained she was getting too much credit for the popularity of women’s basketball. Then Pat McAfee defended her — with a vulgar insult. Yet, Clark appears to be mostly (and wisely) staying above the fray.

Clark’s team, the Indiana Fever, played the Chicago Sky on Saturday. In the third quarter, while the ball wasn’t in play, opposing guard Chennedy Carter hip checked her, knocking her to the floor. The refs later deemed it a “flagrant foul” (one involving excessive or violent contact). Debate rages about how serious a matter it was. Carter said she has “no regrets.”

“I think at this point, I know I’m gonna take a couple hard shots a game,” Clark said at a presser. “It is what it is, I guess. I don’t know.”

‘One Person’

On Monday, Carter’s teammate Angel Reese complained that Clark (pictured), the No. 1 pick drafted out of the University of Iowa in April, was too much the focus concerning the recent upsurge in the WNBA’s popularity. “I’ll look back in 20 years and be like, ‘Yeah, the reason why we’re watching women’s basketball is not just because of one person. It’s because of me, too.’ And I want y’all to realize that,” she said.

Also on Monday, Pat McAfee, the former NFL kicker and current controversial sports commentator, praised Clark on his ESPN talk show. McAfee said she was being badly treated. Part of his defense was to say that Clark transcends the new slew of players.

“I would like the media people that continue to say, ‘This rookie class, this rookie class, this rookie class,’” McAfee said. “Nah, just call it for what it is: There’s one white b— [rhymes with witch] for the Indiana team who is a superstar.”

‘My Intentions’

Later that day on X he apologized for using the vulgarism. “My intentions when saying it were complimentary just like the entire segment, but a lot of folks are saying that it certainly wasn’t at all,” he said. He sent an apology to Clark through the Fever’s PR operation, and she accepted it, he said.

All this adds up to a crisis scenario for the rookie. All eyes are upon her. She’s not saying much. This may be one of those rare instances where, for one’s reputation, it’s best to be restrained. Clark has been playing professional basketball for a month.

The Wall Street Journal’s Jason Gay opined that what she’s undergoing is typical. “Almost every celebrated newbie goes through harsh trials early in a professional career, often because they’re situated on a lousy team,” he wrote.

The Fever’s current record is 2–9.

Photo Credit: Indiana Fever

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