“If y’all girls were Destiny’s Child, she’d be Beyonce” – Austin Rivers says WNBA players must recognize the importance of Caitlin Clark

Austin says some WNBA players should stop hating and start recognizing the “Caitlin Clark Effect.”

Indiana Fever rookie Caitlin Clark has been instrumental in bringing the spotlight, not just on the WNBA, but on women’s basketball in general. From her days torching opponents as the main attraction of the NCAA and the Iowa Hawkeyes to selling out nearly every arena she’s playing in her first season in the WNBA, there’s no denying her impact on and off the court.

However, despite everything she’s brought to the table for the WNBA, some players still resent her. While some attribute it to competitiveness—which is completely fine—some aren’t thrilled about all the attention and praise Clark receives.

In fact, Chicago Sky guard Chennedy Carter took matters into her own hands as she called Clark a “b**ch” before delivering a cheap shot during a recent match-up. But, as former NBA guard Austin Rivers pointed out, it’s time for WNBA players to stop complaining and start acknowledging the Iowa native’s role in drawing more attention to the league.

WNBA hasn’t been given its due

The WNBA kicked off its first season in 1996 and has had its fair share of superstars. From Cynthia Cooper, Tina Thompson, and Sheryl Swoopes to Lisa Leslie and Maya Moore, the women’s basketball league has seen some stellar talents grace its courts. However, it’s no secret that the league struggles with recognition and popularity compared to its male counterpart, the NBA.

Enter Caitlin Clark, the 22-year-old sharpshooter who is fresh off a record-breaking season in the NCAA, where she became the all-time points leader. After she was selected as the first overall pick in this year’s WNBA Draft, fans are filling arenas to catch a glimpse of her play. In addition, there’s been more media attention on the league lately, putting the limelight on Clark and other WNBA talents.

According to Austin, who’s transitioned to a career as a sports commentator, Clark’s arrival in the WNBA has changed the game for good.

“Let’s be honest, women’s basketball as a whole, for the longest time, did not garner a lot of attention or the proper respect. For the longest time, the WNBA was synonymous with a lot of things—not making a lot of money, actually losing money, to be completely honest,” Austin said in a post on his account on X, formerly Twitter.

“Their athletes were not being compensated properly, not being treated properly, and as a whole, their sport and brand of basketball in terms of women playing basketball did not garner the proper attention. Nobody really cared or paid attention to it, which is a damn shame because you girls have been great,” the retired NBA player added.

The positive impact of Caitlin’s arrival

Austin argued that Clark’s arrival in the WNBA brings many positive things to the league, such as increased and better media exposure. For starters, 36 of the Fever’s 40 games are being featured on national broadcast and streaming partners, which means fans worldwide can watch them play.

Additionally, better TV and marketing deals may boost the league’s revenue. This, in turn, will help attract more sponsors and investors, allowing for further growth and development of women’s basketball.

“This woman comes along and brings the world in and is now giving y’all that proper attention and respect. You guys are getting these brand deals and getting this money. Instead of being appreciative and acknowledging that, you guys are coming at her with these hateful comments,” Rivers stated.

“Let’s stop it. It’s not a coincidence. You guys are just now chartering flights in her rookie year. It’s not a coincidence that now that she’s in the WNBA, everyone’s paying attention to the WNBA. I shouldn’t say everyone, but a lot more people are. It’s not a coincidence; it’s the Caitlin Clark effect,” the former Duke standout emphasized.

The rise of women’s basketball can be attributed to the excellent performances of other women hoopers like Cameron Brink, JuJu Watkins, and Paige Bueckers, to mention a few standouts. However, Rivers said Caitlin’s influence stands head and shoulders above the rest.

“If you girls were Destiny’s Child, she would be Beyoncé. If all the girls in collegiate sports were a band and they were NSYNC, she would be Justin Timberlake. She is the main attraction. There’s no ifs, ands, or buts about that,” Austin highlighted.

With her exceptional long-range shooting and undeniable charisma, Caitlin has helped elevate the WNBA and women’s basketball to heights it previously hadn’t reached. As Austin underscored, it’s time for her fellow WNBA players to stop taking cheap shots at the young woman and recognize her part in the league’s resurgence. It’s not to say they should bow to her every chance they get, but rather show some respect for the impact she has had on the game.

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