Caitlin Clark’s race ‘huge thing’ when it comes to her popularity, WNBA star says

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Las Vegas Aces middle A’ja Wilson is a five-time All-Star and is hoping to guide her crew to a 3rd consecutive WNBA championship this season.

Nevertheless, the Aces’ quest for a three-peat could also be flying beneath the radar because of the incoming rookie class headlined by the Indiana Fever’s Caitlin Clark. The previous Iowa star set all-time data for scoring throughout her senior season and led her college to back-to-back nationwide championship appearances.


Las Vegas Aces middle A’ja Wilson, #22, speaks throughout the crew’s media day on Might 3, 2024 in Las Vegas. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Evaluation-Journal/Tribune Information Service through Getty Photographs)

Even with the accolades on her resume, the narrative round Clark has become research and media critiques about why she is fashionable as an alternative of her recreation lifting up girls’s basketball.

Wilson, in an interview with The Related Press, agreed there was a race factor to the sharpshooter’s reputation. 

“I feel it’s an enormous factor. I feel lots of people might say it’s not about Black and White, however to me, it’s,” Wilson mentioned. “It truly is since you could be top-notch at what you’re as a Black lady, however but possibly that’s one thing that individuals don’t need to see.

“They don’t see it as marketable, so it doesn’t matter how onerous I work. It doesn’t matter what all of us do as Black girls, we’re nonetheless going to be swept beneath the rug. That’s why it boils my blood when folks say it’s not about race as a result of it’s.”


A'ja Wilson at USA camp

A’ja Wilson, #9, seems to be on throughout the USA Basketball Ladies’s Nationwide Group Coaching Camp at Cleveland Clinic Courts on April 3, 2024 in Independence, Ohio. (Mike Lawrie/Getty Photographs)

Clark’s endorsement take care of Nike after the WNBA Draft sparked questions on why she obtained one with no skilled expertise and Wilson didn’t get one regardless of gamers like Breanna Stewart and Elena Della Donne receiving a deal.

Nike introduced Saturday she was getting a signature shoe. Wilson additionally signed an endorsement take care of Gatorade. Wilson made the feedback to the AP earlier than the offers had been introduced.

Clark completed her collegiate profession because the Division 1 all-time main scorer with 3,951 factors. She additionally gained the Wood Award, Naismith Award and Ladies’s AP Participant of the Yr Award in back-to-back years.

When it got here to endorsement offers, Clark had something Wilson didn’t popping out of faculty – a relationship with high corporations already due to identify, picture and likeness (NIL). SponsorUnited’s research of NIL advertising and marketing partnerships from February 2023 to February 2024 confirmed that Clark already had 9 model offers and was not even within the high 5 of feminine athletes when it got here to NIL offers.

In line with the research, Angel Reese, of the Chicago Sky, and her former LSU teammate Flau’jae Johnson had been within the high 5. Reese had 26 NIL offers and Johnson had 18. SMU volleyball participant Alex Glover had 41 NIL offers, Cameron Brink – now of the Los Angeles Sparks – had 21, as did Illinois softball participant Yazzy Avila.

Clark has not leaned into the race debate both. Amid the on-court rivalry with Reese, Clark mentioned in March that they had been simply part of an even bigger puzzle for ladies’s sports activities.

Caitlin Clark guarded by Allisha Gray

Indiana Fever guard Caitlin Clark, #22, drives on Atlanta Dream guard Allisha Grey, #15, throughout the first half of a preseason WNBA basketball recreation in Indianapolis on Thursday, Might 9, 2024. (AP Picture/Darron Cummings)


“I might say me and Angel have all the time been nice opponents,” she mentioned earlier than the Elite Eight matchup. “I feel Angel would say the identical, prefer it’s not simply us in girls’s basketball. That’s not the one aggressive factor about the place our recreation is at, and that’s what makes it so good. We want a number of folks to be actually good.”

The Related Press contributed to this report.

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