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Legendary Coach on Caitlin Clark: ‘She’s Being Targeted’

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This article was originally published at StateOfUnion.org. Publications approved for syndication have permission to republish this article, such as Microsoft News, Yahoo News, Newsbreak, UltimateNewswire and others. To learn more about syndication opportunities, visit About Us.

Legendary women’s basketball coach Geno Auriemma believes WNBA rookie star Caitlin Clark is facing unprecedented targeting from opponents due to the attention she has brought to the league.

While acknowledging rookies often face challenges adjusting to the professional game, Auriemma argued Clark is dealing with a unique level of hostility that stems from jealousy over her success and fame.

He pointed to notable physical plays against Clark as evidence.

“Every rookie has to go through the growing pains of being a professional basketball player. And the more attention you get, and today’s world, attention is No. 1, and attention brings money. So is she facing the rookie challenge, the rookie hardships that are inherent with being a rookie? Yes. She’s also being targeted,” Auriemma said.

“I don’t remember when (Michael) Jordan came into the league guys looking to go out and beat him up,” he said.

“I don’t remember when (Larry) Bird and Magic (Jonhson) came in the league and elevated the NBA; I don’t remember them getting targeted and getting beat up just because of who they were and the attention they were getting. And I’ve never heard one of them say, ‘Hey, why didn’t you do this when we were playing?’ Because nobody felt like it. It wasn’t the time.”

Auriemma added, “Appreciate the fact that now’s the time. I get it. I get it. It’s long overdue. Why are you blaming that kid? It’s not her fault because you would trade places with her in a minute, but you are not there. You’re not her. So, you’re (complaining) that she’s getting what she’s getting?”

Though some analysts like Rebecca Lobo and Chiney Ogwumike downplayed claims of jealousy, citing the routine physicality of elite competition, comments from player Angel Reese about wanting historical recognition hinted at underlying envy toward Clark’s impact on viewership and profile.

“I know I’ll go down in history,” Reese said. “I’ll look back in 20 years and be like: ‘Yeah, the reason why we’re watching women’s basketball is not just because of one person, it’s because of me too, and I want you to realize that.”

“It’s a false narrative,” Lobo said. “Are veterans being physical with her? They are. But I have not seen anything excessive or anything dirty until that Chennedy Carter hit. Chennedy gave a previously toothless argument some fangs.”

“These women are elite basketball players who are competitors who show up every night before the eyes were there on the game. This is not hate. This is hoops,” Ogwumike said.

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