Home News Caitlin Clark has already faced immense criticism at every turn 6 months...

Caitlin Clark has already faced immense criticism at every turn 6 months into 2024

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Caitlin Clark is at the center of the sports world as the calendar nears summertime and the heat is only getting turned up on the WNBA rookie.

The Indiana Fever sharpshooter was on the receiving end of a hard foul from Chicago Sky guard Chennedy Carter during Saturday’s matchup, which sparked a ton of drama and hot takes on social media and on the airwaves in the aftermath.

It has felt like since Clark was on the verge of breaking the NCAA all-time scoring record toward the end of her collegiate career at Iowa, all she has faced is negativity. The highest of highs have come with chainsaws to chop her down even before she took the floor for the Fever.

Here’s some of the tribulations Clark has faced over the last few months.

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First ‘reality check’

Sheryl Swoopes in 2023

Sheryl Swoopes attends the Women’s Sports Foundation’s Annual Salute to Women in Sports at Cipriani Wall Street on October 12, 2023, in New York City. (Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images for WSF)

While Clark was lighting up the stat sheet, WNBA legend Sheryl Swoopes said there was no way the Iowa standout would come into the league and perform the way she has.

“So, will Caitlin Clark be a good pro? Absolutely. Will Caitlin Clark come into the WNBA and do what she’s doing right now, immediately? Absolutely not. Not going to happen,” Swoopes said in part in January.

Swoopes later praised Clark’s accomplishments. But months later, Clark joined Sabrina Ionescu as the only players in league history to reach at least 100 points, 50 rebounds and 50 assists in their first 10 games as a pro.

Didn’t break the scoring record

Lynette Woodard in 2024

Lynette Woodard, previous holder of the women’s basketball all-time scoring record, in attendance during a women’s college basketball game between the Ohio State Buckeyes and the Iowa Hawkeyes on March 3, 2024, at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City. (Keith Gillett/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

It was as clear as day. Clark broke Kelsey Plum’s mark for most points scored in a NCAA Division 1 women’s basketball career and then surpassed Lynnette Woodward’s mark, if you include the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) which predated the NCAA. She also tallied more points than Pete Maravich.

For whatever reason, Woodard said in April that she was the one who still held the record with 3,649 points in four seasons with the Kansas Jayhawks. Clark ended up finishing with 3,951 points.

“I am the hidden figure, but no longer now,” Woodard said before the national title game. “My record was hidden from everyone for 43 years. … I don’t think my record has been broken because you can’t duplicate what you’re not duplicating. So, unless you come with a men’s basketball and a 2-point shot, you know … but just for you, so you can understand, so you can help me spread that word.”

Two days later, Woodard acknowledged Clark as the record holder after backlash.

“Reality is coming”

Diana Taurasi looks on

Diana Taurasi #3 of the Phoenix Mercury jokes around with Chelsea Gray #12 of the Las Vegas Aces on her bench in the fourth quarter of their game at Michelob ULTRA Arena on May 14, 2024 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Diana Taurasi, a legend in the WNBA, warned the game wasn’t going to come as easy to Clark as it did in college.

“Reality is coming,” she said on ESPN after the Hawkeyes’ tournament win over the Huskies. “You look superhuman playing against some 18-year-olds, but you’re going to come play with some grown women that have been playing professional basketball for a long time.

“There is going to be a transition period where you’re going to have to give yourself some grace as a rookie.”

The reality is, Clark was the WNBA Rookie of the Month in her first month as a pro. Clark’s first regular-season game garnered 2.1 million viewers. It was the most watched WNBA game on ESPN platforms ever.

Doyel drama

Gregg Doyel photo

Gregg Doyel, IndyStar sports columnist (Robert Scheer/IndyStar/USA TODAY NETWORK)

Clark was the No. 1 overall pick in the WNBA Draft, but as soon as she met with the Indianapolis media, there was awkwardness.

Indy Star columnist Gregg Doyel made a heart with his hands before asking Clark a question. He asked whether she “liked that” and the weirdness ensued.

The strange interaction led to an apology from the columnist and the newspaper taking him off of the Fever beat for the season.

Race factor

A'ja Wilson poses for media day

Las Vegas Aces center A’ja Wilson speaks during the team’s media day on May 3, 2024. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

Clark joined Breanna Stewart and Ionescu as the active WNBA players with signature shoe deals. The deal sparked a debate over why Clark, who didn’t play a game at that point, received the deal, with race becoming a main talking point.

Las Vegas Aces star A’ja Wilson lent her voice to the Clark discussion. She denied in April that she was jealous of Clark. But she did end up saying that race played a part in her popularity.

“It really is because you can be top-notch at what you are as a Black woman, but yet maybe that’s something that people don’t want to see,” Wilson said at the time. “They don’t see it as marketable, so it doesn’t matter how hard I work. It doesn’t matter what we all do as Black women, we’re still going to be swept underneath the rug. That’s why it boils my blood when people say it’s not about race because it is.”

But Wilson ended up changing her tune.

“She’s learning and growing like everyone else. I feel like people don’t give her a chance,” she said. “We tell our rookies every single day, this is new. You’re coming into a whole other new world and starting over. So, these questions are only annoying because she’s young. She’s a rookie. You keep asking us these questions as if she’s a grown-ass woman that’s been in this league for years. No, she’s doing her job. We’re doing ours and at the end of the day, that’s how we grow, is when we get better and do things like that.”

“I’m just exhausted over the conversation because I know she’s exhausted. I can only imagine.”

‘Pretty privilege’

Sunny Hostin

Sunny Hostin suggests Caitlin Clark’s popularity is part of “White” and “pretty” privilege. (Screenshot/ABC/TheView)

As the season has worn on, the Clark discussion reached the desk of “The View.” Co-host Sunny Hostin argued that “White privilege” and “pretty privilege” played a role in her popularity.

“I do think that there is a thing called pretty privilege. There is a thing called White privilege. There is a thing called tall privilege, and we have to acknowledge that, and so part of it is about race, because if you think about the Brittney Griners of the world, why did she have to go to play in Russia? Because they wouldn’t pay her,” Hostin said

Co-host Alyssa Farah Griffin said she’d become a fan of the WNBA because Clark was “so fun to watch,” adding that it had nothing to do with her skin color. Co-host Whoopi Goldberg argued that Hostin and herself have been trying to bring attention to the WNBA for years.

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Chennedy Carter foul

Chennedy Carter stands in the key

Chicago Sky guard Chennedy Carter (7) is whistled for a flagrant foul for knocking Indiana Fever guard Caitlin Clark to the ground on June 1, 2024, at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. (Brian Spurlock/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Everything came to a head on Saturday when Carter hip-checked Clark to the ground during the Sky’s 71-70 loss. The foul was later upgraded to a flagrant-1 violation.

Carter refused to take Clark questions but offered critical takes about her on social media.

“… that’s that on that cause beside three point shooting what does she bring to the table man,” Carter wrote.

Carter spoke to reporters on Monday and expressed that she has no regrets over anything that happened.

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