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ESPN panelist worries about Caitlin Clark being used as ‘avatar’ for some to attack Black WNBA players

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David Dennis Jr., a writer for ESPN’s Andscape, expressed concerns on Monday about those who were upset with Team USA leaving Caitlin Clark off of the Olympic roster.

Dennis was on “Around the Horn” and worried about Black WNBA players getting targeted in the wake of the Clark drama.

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Caitlin Clark walks down the court

Caitlin Clark, #22 of the Indiana Fever, looks on during the game against the Connecticut Sun on June 10, 2024 at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. (Chris Marion/NBAE via Getty Images)

“I talked about how Caitlin Clark has become an avatar for people to express their disdain for Black women and how a bunch of so-called patriots are going to treat Team USA this summer,” he wrote on X.

Dennis said in his clip on the show he did not think the Indiana Fever star was one of the top players available in the pool to choose from either.

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“There can be a healthy sports debate about whether Caitlin Clark should make this team. I’m of the belief she is not one of the top 15 players available,” Dennis said, adding that Arike Ogunbowale could be added before Clark if a player has to drop out.

“The problem here is, and what concerns me going forward is those people on the fringe that do exist, who are in real life, not just internet trolls, politicians, pundits and people of the like, who are using Caitlin Clark as an avatar to lash out at the people who they have disdain for, mainly the makeup of the WNBA, Black women, et al.

DIJONAI CARRINGTON MOCKS CAITLIN CLARK AFTER FOULING HER, GETS BOOED AT HOME

Caitlin Clark in 2018 camp

Caitlin Clark, #172 of West Des Moines, Iowa, participates in tryouts for the 2018 USA Basketball Women’s U17 World Cup Team at the United States Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado. (Marc Piscotty/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

“And they are using her to go against Team USA. What’s going to happen … the big tragedy here, is the way they are treated by those people come this summer. We’re supposed to support America and American teams in the Olympics. I want to see that for this team, even if Caitlin Clark is not on that squad.”

Dennis believed “most reasonable basketball people agree” that Clark can wait until the 2028 Games.

Clark’s reported snub from the Olympic roster sparked a firestorm over the weekend.

Clark was the No. 1 pick of the WNBA Draft back in April after leading Iowa to back-to-back national championship games and setting the mark for all-time scoring in college basketball. She was unable to attend the national training camp in Cleveland after she was invited because Iowa was in the Final Four.

Over the last two years, Clark has drawn millions of new fans to the game. The Iowa-South Carolina national championship was the most-watched women’s college basketball game. Her games with the Fever are among the top in WNBA ratings this season, not to mention the fan support she has received at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis and elsewhere.

WNBA veterans Diana Taurasi and Brittney Griner are reportedly set to be on the roster along with Breanna Stewart, A’ja Wilson, Napheesa Collier, Jewell Loyd, Chelsea Gray, Kelsey Plum and Jackie Young. Alyssa Thomas, Sabrina Ionescu and Kahleah Copper will be first-time Olympians.

Clark took the high road when asked about being left off of the roster.

“I’m excited for the girls who are on the team. I know it’s the most competitive team in the world and I know it could’ve gone either way – me being on the team, me not being on the team,” she said, via The Athletic. “So, I’m excited for them. I’m going to be rooting them on to win gold. I was a kid that grew up watching the Olympics. So, yeah, it’ll be fun to watch them. 

Caitlin Clark listens

Caitlin Clark, #172 of West Des Moines, Iowa, listens to speakers while participating in tryouts for the 2018 USA Basketball Women’s U17 World Cup Team at the United States Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado. (Marc Piscotty/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

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“No disappointment. I think it just gives you something to work for. That’s a dream. Hopefully, one day I can be there. I think it’s just a little more motivation. You remember that. And hopefully in four years, when four years comes back around, I can be there.”

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