Caitlin Clark on hard fouls early in WNBA career: 'I'm trying not to let it bother me' (2024)

Indiana Fever rookie Caitlin Clark has drawn plenty of early attention — particularly TV viewers and ticket buyers — this WNBA season. She also seems to have caught the attention of her fellow players.

The hard foul over the weekend by Chicago Sky guard Chennedy Carter brought renewed attention on the 2024 WNBA No. 1 draft pick and how others around the league are focusing their efforts on stopping her.

With nearly one-third of the WNBA season done, Clark has been fouled 46 times, the third-most in the league. None was more impactful than Saturday's when Carter leveled the Fever guard with a shoulder block in the third quarter. The play was deemed a common foul during the game but later upgraded to a flagrant-1 violation Sunday.

Chicago Sky coach Teresa Weatherspoon called out her player on Monday for the “not appropriate” foul on Clark.

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Weatherspoon, a Basketball Hall of Famer and one of the sport’s most respected figures, said she’s made it clear to Carter that her foul — which sent the heralded rookie to the floor — can’t be repeated.

“Physical play, intensity, and a competitive spirit are hallmarks of Chicago Sky basketball,” Weatherspoon said in a statement. “Chennedy got caught up in the heat of the moment in an effort to win the game. She and I have discussed what happened and that it was not appropriate, nor is it what we do or who we are.”

Weatherspoon, a tenacious defender in her playing days and an original member of the New York Liberty,said the messages got through to Carter.

Caitlin Clark on hard fouls early in WNBA career: 'I'm trying not to let it bother me' (1)

“Chennedy understands that there are better ways to handle situations on the court, and she will learn from this, as we all will,” Weatherspoon said.“As a team, we will grow together and continue to work hard to display strong leadership and set a positive example for our competitors, fans, and partners.”

Clark tried to downplay Saturday’s shoulder blow.

“I wasn’t expecting it,” she nonchalantly told reporters when asked about the confrontation with Carter. “But I think it’s ... just respond, come down, let the play do the talking. It is what it is. It’s a physical game, go make the free throw and then execute on offense.”

Carter’s foul sparked debate about whether Clark is being targeted by her opponents with overly aggressive play.

Noted NBA tough guyDraymond Green, who has 21 ejections in his career, went as far asusinghockey verbiageto suggest that the Fever fight fire with fire to protect the team’s prized rookie.

"Indiana better go invest in an enforcer... FAST!" Green wrote on social media.

Saturday’s incident was just the latest of several rough plays that have sent Clark to the hardwood.

New York Liberty’s Breanna Stewart stood her ground and set a hard screen against Clark, who didn’t see it coming, as she was leveled to the ground during a game in Brooklyn on May 18.

Seattle Storm forward Ezi Magbegor caught a lot of ball, and much of Clark’s head, in a blocked shot May 22.

Clark has chirped back at referees at times, especially after noncalls, and has already picked up three technical fouls through 11 games. A seventh tech would be an automatic one-game suspension.

Clark isn't only being fouled, though. She's doing it a ton herself.

The WNBA Rookie of the Month for May has been whistled for 32 personal fouls, fourth in the league. Those 78 total whistles, for and against, are the most of any player.

New York’s Stewart (72), Phoenix’s Kahleah Copper (69), Minnesota’s Napheesa Collier (68), Connecticut’s Alyssa Thomas (67), Seattle’s Jewell Loyd (66), Indiana’s Aliyah Boston (65) and Los Angeles’ Dearica Hamby (60) were the only other players involved in 60 or more personal fouls as of Monday morning.

It shouldn’t be a total surprise that Clark would be in on all this action, or lack of action depending on your point of view, given what an aggressive playmaker she is. But what’s drawn so much attention are the kinds of fouls Clark has received.

She said it won't affect her game.

"I think at this point I know I’m going to take a couple of hard shots a game and that’s what it is," Clark said postgame. "I’m trying not to let it bother me."

David K. Li

David K. Li is a senior breaking news reporter for NBC News Digital.

Ava Kelley

assignment editor for the Midwest Bureau of NBC News

Caitlin Clark on hard fouls early in WNBA career: 'I'm trying not to let it bother me' (2024)
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