For the Sky, playing the role of villain isn’t a good look


This is getting deep, folks, so check the roles adopted by or bequeathed to the main actors.

They are:

Caitlin Clark — college superstar, Fever rookie, most followed female basketball player ever, WNBA game-changer on and off the court.

Angel Reese — college star, former NCAA champ with LSU, terrific rookie rebounder for Sky, social-media content provider, desperate for attention, ‘‘Bayou Barbie’’ college nickname, flagrant-1 fouler of Clark on Sunday afternoon.

Chennedy Carter — rugged, athletic Sky guard, spark plug for team, with third club in five years because of volatile conduct, cheap-shot flagrant-1 fouler of Clark in first Sky-Fever game June 1, snarled the word ‘‘b—-’’ in the process.

Teresa Weatherspoon — first-year Sky coach, in midst of four-game losing streak and 4-9 season, frustrated enough to slam table and walk out of recent news conference when asked harmless question about possibly changing her lineup.

There’s a lot going on here. Actually, way too much to address in one column.

But let’s start with this: The Sky and most of the WNBA don’t seem to understand what Clark has brought to everyone in the league. It’s like a chef carrying a tray filled with sandwiches for a hungry horde tripping at the top of the stairs and, as he and the food crash down, the horde applauding.

Reese hit Clark in the head on a message-sending block attempt in the Fever’s 91-83 victory Sunday. Clark made the two free throws, and Reese said afterward: ‘‘We’re not gonna be denied, no matter what you guys try to do.’’

She was talking to the media. So media members are somehow the culprits, in her estimation. She complained in a message on X: ‘‘Give every team the same PUBLICITY cause it ain’t just one team.’’

Of the league getting more eyeballs than ever, she has said: ‘‘I’m the reason too.’’

Indeed, she is. Perhaps not as she expected but as the villain. As she has said: ‘‘I’ll take the bad-guy role.’’

She’s got that. It was a tale that started in college, when Reese taunted Clark while winning the NCAA championship. Things were inflamed when her teammate Carter blindsided Clark earlier this month, then responded afterward: ‘‘I ain’t answering no Caitlin Clark questions.’’

It’s understandable players would be jealous of someone hogging the limelight, but that limelight spreads far. Clark can trash-talk, complain, do all the things star hoopers do. But to want to brutalize her is where it gets weird.

All she has brought is more fans, more TV revenue, more endorsements, more sponsors, more charter planes and better treatment for all. Her light spreads.

This is what the WNBA always has wanted — the big time. What about it don’t these Sky players get? Dirty isn’t tough; it’s cowardly.

As Fox Sports’ “Speak” co-host LeSean McCoy said of Reese: ‘‘It’s obvious she’s jealous of Caitlin. Every interview, every tweet, everything’s about Caitlin. I have yet to see Caitlin respond to her.’’’

That’s another thing: Clark isn’t rattled by the hard fouls. On Sunday, she finished with a game-high 23 points, eight rebounds, nine assists and two blocks.

Indeed, back on June 1, Carter’s flagrant foul led to a free throw by Clark that arguably was the difference in the Fever’s 71-70 victory.

If the Sky want to be to the ‘‘Bad Boys’’ of the WNBA, they should know that the Pistons’ targeting of Bulls star Michael Jordan didn’t work. It infuriated Jordan, and he viciously — and fairly — destroyed Bill Laimbeer, Rick Mahorn, Isiah Thomas and crew en route to the first of the Bulls’ six NBA championships in 1991.

What were the ‘‘Bad Boys’’ left with? A reputation in hoops history as dirty players, bad sports, crybabies.

The Sky wants that?

Are women that mean to and that threatened by other women who are successful? Or, as a number of male and female TV hosts have suggested, might this all be racial? Clark, of course, is white; the WNBA is mostly Black.

The league is playing games so fast to accommodate the upcoming Olympics that the Sky will play the Fever again Sunday. The villain role might continue, or the Sky just might play hard and win.

A problem for Reese and her desire for fame is that her game is largely grunt work, while Clark is the queen of the three-pointers. She is the female Steph Curry, beloved by Curry himself. Reese has yet to make a three-pointer as a pro.

In all this, we’re left with a thought:

Why despise the hand that feeds you?

Sky players don’t want to call what’s brewing between them and the Fever a rivalry, but all signs point to the obvious.

Could the Sky’s starting lineup see a change Sunday against the Fever? Either way, Chennedy Carter will be a huge factor in their rematch with the Fever.





Source link

Leave a Comment