Connecticut Sun

Exciting new era for WNBA begins with Caitlin Clark's Fever debut

Clark continues to acknowledge and recognize the incredible women that came before her.

NBC Universal, Inc.

Prior to the WNBA's most recent No. 1 pick even stepping foot on the court, one thing is clear -- Caitlin Clark has forever changed the scope of women's sports.

"When you consider the WNBA over the arch of its existence, there have been so many brilliant players -- and ones that people who follow the game have really enjoyed on so many levels," Tom E. Curran said Tuesday night on NBC Sports Boston's Arbella Early Edition ahead of Clark's debut against the Connecticut Sun. "The Candace Parkers, Brianna Stewarts, on and on and on. But this, however, is different."

Clark captivated fans during her collegiate career at Iowa, averaging 31.6 points, 8.9 assists, and 7.4 rebounds per game in her senior season. Clark passed Pete Maravich to become the highest scorer in NCAA history -- across both men and women -- with 3,951 career points. Her 548 3-pointers also set a co-ed NCAA record.

"I think what Caitlin Clark has done is that she's captivating and unique in a way that you've never really seen before," Curran added. "She's shooting from the logo and also being able to capitalize every time she has the opportunity where all the eyeballs are on her."

Fans of basketball quickly grew to love Clark's visible competitiveness and ability to stay locked in and compete at the highest level with a mentality that almost shadows Kobe Bryant. Clark's global impact was seen immediately, as she has already sold more Indiana Fever jerseys than the Dallas Cowboys did as a franchise over the 2023 season.

"Caitlin Clark has done so much for the game, and I think she's done a really incredible job of giving the credit to those who have come before her," NBC10 Boston's Hannah Donnelly said.

"She credits all of the Candace Parkers, Sheryl Swoopes and Lisa Leslies for being where she is, and I think the biggest thing about Caitlin Clark is that she recognizes this moment in women's basketball, and she knows that it's not just her scoring -- it's her playmaking that's going to bring eyes to the game."

In Iowa's March Madness run, Clark and the Hawkeyes shattered viewership records across women's sports, bringing in just shy of 19 million viewers for the national championship game matchup against South Carolina. It was the most watched basketball game at any level since 2019.

"Regardless of what happens on the court, what she has done to bring people to see the talent that's already here has been incredible," Donnelly added. "If you look at the growth of the WNBA just in the past few years, it's incredible -- two expansion teams already announced with Toronto coming next season and Golden State coming the following year -- and then commissioner Cathy Engelbert has talked about more expansion teams coming by 2028."

In preparation for the arrival of Clark, opposing teams such as the Las Vegas Aces have already made plans to play in a larger venue -- the T-Mobile Arena -- to accommodate the influx of fans for when the Fever come to town.

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