People Who Can't Stand Caitlin Clark

Basketball ace Caitlin Clark has proven the sky's the limit to her abilities, having punctuated the air multiple times with swooshing 3-point arcs since high school. As a scoring juggernaut with the University of Iowa's Hawkeyes, she's since been anointed as one of the greatest female players ever to grace the NCAA hardwoods. Her signing in 2024 as a first-draft choice with the WNBA's cellar-dwelling Indiana Fever was no surprise, although Clark faces the overwhelming responsibility of turning the team's fortunes around in a league notoriously tough on rookies. So far, the jury's out on a potential Fever playoff run, but since inking her contract, Clark has done something else. She's helped to propel the WNBA from empty-seat status into must-see territory, as women's basketball converts trip over themselves scampering to the nearest arena or television set to catch the Fever in action. 

That audience, however, includes a fair share of detractors, from sexist trolls in denial over the popularity of Clark and the WNBA to media pundits and fellow athletes still doubtful of her potential. So far, Clark has managed to shrug off those nay-sayers. "People can talk about what they want to talk about and create conversations about whatever it is," Clark said recently in a media scrum, per Bro Bible. "But I think for myself, I'm just here to play basketball." Unfortunately, as long as those nattering nabobs continue to have their day in the sun, expect Clark to engage in battles off the court as well.

Sheryl Swoopes discredited Caitlin Clark's NCAA record

Caitlin Clark's fan base is so rabid that many might believe Indiana's star point guard could walk on water if a WNBA court experienced a massive flood. But former hoops veteran Sheryl Swoopes wasn't sold on the hype surrounding Clark, who at the time was finishing her final year with the Hawkeyes. "Will Caitlin Clark be a good pro? Absolutely, said Swoopes — a multiple MPV with the WNBA's now-defunct Houston Comets — on the "Gil's Arena" podcast. "Will Caitlin Clark come into the WNBA and do what she's doing right now? Immediately, absolutely not."

Swoopes particularly questioned Clark's collegiate stats, comparing it to Washington alum and Las Vegas Aces player Kelsey Plum. Her NCAA record of 3,527 points stood for 7 years until Clark broke it in February 2024. "If Kelsey Plum set that record in four years, well, Caitlin should've broke [sic] that record in four years," Swoopes added. "But because there's a COVID year, and then there's another year, you know what I mean? So, she's already had an extra year to break that record. So, is it truly a broken record? I don't know. I don't think so. But yeah, that'll go in the record books. And I don't think it should be." Swoops had to backpedal her assessment when it was pointed out that Clark surpassed Plum's achievement in four seasons, not five. She later said on the "Today Show" that she had apologized to Caitlin for the error.

Her rivalry with Angel Reese has blown up

Signing with the WNBA's Indiana Fever may have marked a new beginning for Caitlin Clark, but it also prolonged a collegiate feud with rival Angel Reese. That intensity was particularly heated in 2023 when Reese's LSU Tigers beat Iowa 102-85 in the NCAA women's final, which saw Reese taunt Clark by using grappler John Cena's infamous "You Can't See Me" pose. However, Reese and her trademark aggressive style weren't enough to beat the Hawkeyes, who eliminated LSU in the 2024 quarter-final 94-87, which saw Clark score 41 points. "Me and Caitlin Clark don't hate each other," said Reese before the loss, per CBS. "I want everybody to understand that. It's just a super competitive game."

With Clark signed by Indiana and Reese acquired by the Chicago Sky in time for the WNBA's 2024-2025 season, the rivalry percolated when the two met for a June 18 match. One mishap saw Reese smack Clark in the head when the latter charged to the basket, sending her reeling out of bounds and resulting in a major foul against Reese. Objecting to the foul after the game, which Indiana won 91-83, Reese also delivered a verbal shot at Clark. "I think we went up really strong a lot of times and didn't get a lot of calls," said Reese, per CBS Sports. "Going back and looking, I've seen a lot of calls that weren't made, I guess some people get a special whistle."

Matt Walsh and other right-wingers claim Caitlin Clark is overpaid

Caitlin Clark's 4-year contract worth $338,000 with the Indiana Fever is lucrative by WNBA standards but paltry compared to NBA recipients. In fact, only NBA players earning the minimum for a two-way contract (in between the NBA and its developmental league) have a salary similar to or lower than Clark's. Yet, several conservative commentators declared that even by those standards, Clark was overpaid. Clay Travis, in an April 2024 episode of a podcast he shares with Buck Sexton, made it known he wasn't impressed with the size of Clark's first-year salary in a league he obviously deplored. "The fact that she makes 75K is a testament to the fact that this organization needs to exist to make Democrats and leftists feel better even though they don't support it themselves," he retorted, per Media Matters.

According to podcaster and self-described "theocratic fascist" Matt Walsh, Clark's salary shouldn't amount to anything more than a goose egg. "By all rights, as a simple economic matter, WNBA players should not be getting paid anything," declared Walsh, arguing that the league survives due to NBA subsidization. "If they're getting paid anything above zero, they are overpaid." Sports broadcaster James Whitlock was harsher on the issue via his "Fearless" podcast, directing his remarks towards WNBA players he felt had a sense of entitlement. "You should be just like all the angry feminists that have dominated the WNBA and led it to 30-plus years of no profit and total irrelevance," he said, per X (formerly Twitter).

Sunny Hostin said Caitlin Clark's success due to race and appearance

While Caitlin Clark received kudos for opening the WNBA to broader audiences, Sunny Hostin, never one to hold back on controversial remarks on "The View," declared the athlete contributed nothing to diversifying the league. "There is a thing called pretty privilege, there is a thing called white privilege, there is a thing called tall privilege," said Hostin, ticking off all the boxes of what she didn't like about Clark. "I do think that she is more relatable to more people because she's white, because she's attractive, and unfortunately there still is that stigma against the LGBTQ+ community. Seventy percent of the WNBA is black, a third of the players are in the LGBTQ community, and we have to do something about that."

Hostin's declaration echoed the sentiments of former ESPN broadcaster Jemele Hill, who said to the Los Angeles Times, "We would all be very naive if we didn't say race and her sexuality played a role in her popularity." But political commentator Megyn Kelly wasn't having any of it, shaming the entire View panel for bringing up Clark's background in the first place. "What a bunch of spoiled, jealous brats," Kelly said on Sky News Australia. "All I want to hear from them is, 'Thank you.' That's it. That's all they should be saying to Caitlin Clark. Thank you so much for calling to attention our sport that literally no one cares about."

She almost got into a fight with Victoria Vivians

It's no secret that WNBA teams were hell-bent on ensuring Caitlin Clark's baptism in the WNBA would be a fiery experience. That was particularly evident in a May 2024 match against the Seattle Storm, where Clark tangled with Victoria Vivians after nailing a 3-point shot. Despite scoring, Clark had an issue with Vivians charging at her just as the ball left her fingertips, which led to the two guards getting into each other's faces. While it took an intervention from Clark's teammate Aliyah Boston to prevent the situation from getting uglier, the gesture didn't stop the ref from issuing both players double-technical fouls. Clark's fans made sure to give Vivians a piece of their minds, so much so that she was prompted her to change her Instagram to private according, to one X user.

During a post-game interview, Clark admitted she still had to work on channeling her frustrations into higher performance. "I think just being competitive is who I am," she said per the Indiana Fever's YouTube channel. "It's what I've done my whole career. I think at times there's a little, there's like ways I can probably channel it a little bit better, but that's just basketball. At the end of the day, that's never going to change. I'm never going to lose that. [I] feel like I'm getting hammered." It also didn't help that Indiana lost that night 103-88 despite Clark scoring 20 points. But after nine games in the regular season, Clark had also accumulated three technical fouls. An additional four would mean a one-game suspension.

Chennedy Carter courted controversy after flooring Caitlin Clark

Whenever the Indiana Fever take on the Chicago Sky, Caitlin Clark usually has her hands full playing against Angel Reese, a chief rival dating back to their NCAA days. But in June, the first regular season game between the two teams saw Clark having to contend with another ferocious player named Chennedy Carter. The biggest altercation between them took place when the ball was out of play, and Carter picked up a foul for flooring Clark with a massive shoulder check. The hit drove Clark fans into a frenzy, with many of them proclaiming on social media that their favorite player was becoming a prime target across the league.

Carter refused to comment on the hit in her post-game interview, although she later claimed the smackdown was in retaliation for a hit Clark made on her moments earlier. "I don't have any regrets with anything," she said in a media scrum, per the Daily Mail. "I'm going to compete and play 100 percent hard — no matter who it is or who we're playing." She wasn't done with Clark, however, further attacking her on Instagram Threads with a quick text: "[and] that's that on that cause beside three point shooting what does she bring to the table man." Clark, however, was far more diplomatic about the incident. "People are competitive," she said in a scrum, per AP News. "It is what it is, and she's having a tremendous season."

ESPN's Pat McAfee used a slur against her

ESPN broadcaster Pat McAfee claimed to have a lot of respect for Caitlin Clark after her Indiana Fever signing. But whatever regard McAfee had seemed to dissipate when he called her the b-word one June stream cast, since editedbut not before Mediaite captured the offending segment. In it, he claimed that Clark was totally responsible for the WNBA's skyrocketing profile. "Nah, just call it for what it is — there's one white b**** for the Indiana team who is a superstar," he declared.

Almost immediately, McAfee was blasted for that remark. "Pat McAfee's apology for his racist and sexist comments about Caitlin Clark and other WNBA players is insufficient, said feminist organization Ultraviolet in a statement, per Fox News. "The simple reality is that even if McAfee meant what he said as a compliment -– he should know that referring to any professional athlete with a misogynistic or racial epithet is never a compliment and shouldn't be done," the group said in a statement. Viewers on social media demanded McAfee "take some time off" (per the Daily Mail). A day later, McAfee found himself having to backtrack his statements on his podcast and his X account. "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 posted. "That's 100% on me and for that I apologize ... I have sent an apology to Caitlin as well."

Dijonai Carrington berated Caitlin Clark for her fan base

During a June match, Connecticut Sun guard Dijonai Carrington bumped Indiana Fever's Caitlin Clark, committing a foul in the process and prompting the veteran player to mock the star rookie for flopping after contact. Carrington later had a field day poking fun at Clark by posting the altercation on X, captioned with "Ayoooooo, I ammmm dramaaaa." But after Clark's fan base attacked Carrington for her actions, the Sun player took the Fever's star point guard to task for enabling her devotees to engage in boorish remarks. "Dawg. How one can not be bothered by their name being used to justify racism, bigotry, misogyny, xenophobia, homophobia & the intersectionalities of them all is nuts [sic]," wrote Carrington on X. "We all see the s***. We all have a platform. We all have a voice & they all hold weight. Silence is a luxury."

Carrington had a point. Ever since joining the WNBA, Clark had not spoken up about allegations that her fans have weaponized her heterosexuality, whiteness, and gender in a culture war, smearing other league players, especially Blacks and LGBTQ+ athletes. But Clark eventually broke that silence. Sports journalist James Boyd addressed those concerns to the WNBA star hours after Carrington's post and entered her response on his social media account. "It's disappointing," said Clark on the X posting. "Everybody in our world deserves the same amount of respect. The women in our league deserve the same amount of respect."