Social media and fans react warmly to Caitlin Clark’s first WNBA preseason game with the Indiana Fever

Caitlin Clark’s WNBA career doesn’t officially begin for another 10 days, when the Indiana Fever take on the Connecticut Sun in its May 14 regular-season opener.

Still, her team’s preseason game Friday night against the Dallas Wings was a momentous and highly anticipated event in Clark’s basketball career. For the first time, the former Iowa superstar was playing on a WNBA court, for a WNBA team, against WNBA players.

She didn’t disappoint.

In a 79-76 loss to the Wings, Clark finished with a game-high 21 points while making five of her 13 3-pointers, some of which came from characteristically deep.

As it to be expected from a rookie, she struggled at times, finishing with just two assists to five turnovers and getting into foul trouble early in the second half.

But Clark showed some of the flashes of brilliance that helped her become a two-time national college player of the year, the No. 1 overall WNBA draft pick and what many consider to be a transcendent figure not only for the WNBA, but the sport of women’s basketball as a whole.

As Clark and the Fever competed Friday night, many from across the country followed along closely with the action, even on a night in which there were two NBA playoff games.

Here’s a sampling of the reaction on social media to Clark’s first preseason game:

At least some of the appreciation for Clark’s stellar play came with a reminder of what WNBA legend Diana Taurasi recently said about the West Des Moines native.

In an appearance on ESPN on April 6 — the day after Iowa beat UConn, Taurasi’s alma mater, in the Final Four — Taurasi said that “reality is coming” for Clark once she got to the WNBA.

The full statement itself wasn’t controversial. Virtually any rookie in the history of team sports has had to adjust to the difficulties of playing at the professional level and in the game against the Wings, some of Clark’s inexperience showed itself.

Still, viewers were quick to go back to Taurasi’s comments when watching Clark drain step-back 3s from well beyond the arc.

Occasionally, another WNBA legend, Sheryl Swoopes, was included in commentary of those criticizing Taurasi. Swoopes drew attention earlier this year for downplaying Clark becoming the all-time NCAA Division I career scoring leader by incorrectly saying Clark was in her fifth season of college basketball. Swoopes later acknowledged the mistake and reached out to Clark to apologize.

On Friday, in the minutes after the Wings’ win against the Fever, Clark was interviewed by none other than Swoopes.

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