WNBA star shows support for Caitlin Clark after race comments; coach says to 'back off' notion she is hated

A debate grew earlier this week when basketball Hall of Famer Charles Barkley claimed that other WNBA players were “petty” about Caitlin Clark’s stardom.

Angel Reese seemed to take a subtle shot at Clark in a since-deleted social media post, while A’ja Wilson said race was a “huge thing” in her popularity.

Clark said she doesn’t pay attention to such notions, but reigning champion head coach Becky Hammon, of Wilson’s Las Vegas Aces, said any such narratives need to stop.


“We love Caitlin Clark. I think she’s amazing. I watch every time I possibly could. Our league loves her. We’re just doing our job. We’re gonna show up. Whoever’s on the other team is on the other team. We don’t really care – we’re gonna show up and do us,” Hammon said.

“I think this narrative of everybody hating on Caitlin Clark – and even the black and white thing – knock it off. It’s not there. It’s not there. So shut down the noise, and black and white, what is she, 22? She’s a 22-year-old woman with a lot of pressure, she’s not perfect, she’s a rookie in this league. Back off.”

The race comment is somewhat ironic and damning, as her star player in Wilson stood right beside the coach during the schpeel, just two weeks after saying that “it is” about “Black and White.”

“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 after Hammon was done speaking, Wilson offered another thought.

“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.”

Ahead of her game Friday, Clark was asked about the “narratives around the attention” she’s gotten “versus some of the vets that have been in this league for a long time.”

“To be honest, I’m not really on social media. I don’t read that,” Clark said. “This is my job. My job is to compete and play basketball every single day. I think the more attention we can get on every team around this league, that’s only going to help me get better and better. 

“My job is just to continue to show up and help this team get better. We’re fighting for our first win. That’s my main focus.”

Clark and the Fever earned their first win on Friday night, thanks to the rookie’s clutch threes down the stretch in front of a star-studded crowd in Los Angeles’ Crypto.com Arena against the Sparks.

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