WNBA Legend Calls Caitlin Clark a ‘Bully’

Erica Denhoff_Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Erica Denhoff/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

WNBA legend Sheryl Swoopes doesn’t think Caitlin Clark is the victim of bullying in the league; she thinks Clark is a bully.

During a recent episode of former NBA player Gilbert Arenas’ podcast, Gil’s Arena, Arenas, and Swoopes discussed Chicago Sky player and longtime Caitlin Clark rival Angel Reese’s flagrant foul on Clark from their game on Sunday.

Arenas attempted to point out that Reese “is built for trying to be a bully” with her “rugged style” of play. He also said that Clark was built to be a “flopper.”

However, instead of finding agreement with his guest, Swoopes countered by saying Reese is no bully and it is, in fact, Clark who is the bully.

“She’s not a bully,” Swoopes said. “I mean, if you want to talk about bullies, we can talk about every time Caitlin [Clark] has the ball she pushes off. I’m just saying.”

Reese was assessed a Flagrant 1 penalty for her hit on Clark. In total, Reese collected five personal fouls in the game.

“She physically can handle herself,” Arenas said while comparing Reese to Golden State’s Draymond Green. “… The way she plays the game is a rugged style. She’s built for, let’s combat, put our hard hats on. I don’t care who it is.

“… One’s a flopper. We know that. We understand that… One is built for taking flops. That’s just the way she’s built her game. So, any contact she feels she’s gonna flop a little bit, and that’s how she sells her fouls.

“But with Angel, she’s rugged. She’s built for trying to bully. She’s a bully, right. No one feels sorry for the bullier.”

Arenas’ point is very bizarre. One of the most egregious floppers in the NBA, LeBron James, is 6’8 260. Is he built to flop? Flopping has nothing to do with your physical size. It has to do with whether you’re a good scorer with the basketball. If you’re a good offensive player likely to be guarded more closely, you can get away with more.

Clark is the most exciting young corer in the league. She flops because it’s believable that she would be fouled, and the league wants her to score, so the referees may give her the benefit of the doubt.

Speaking specifically of Reese’s flagrant foul on Clark, Swoopes said she didn’t see the big deal.

“It’s the clip they wanna post because they’re gonna get all these likes and reposts, but that’s a basketball play,” Swoopes said. “She hit her on the head, so, of course, it should be upgraded to a flagrant 1. The ref looked at it. They upgraded it. Can we keep playing basketball?

“My thing is, every time Caitlin gets fouled, we can’t make it seem like she was assaulted. Fouling is a part of basketball. You can look at a whole lot of different games and players and clips. A’ja Wilson, when they played Dallas, A’ja had a bloody nose and a black eye — it’s basketball.

“… Then you got to social media and immediately, ‘Oh my goodness, she’s trying to take her out,’ [and] ‘she should be suspended.’ Who are you? And what did you do?”

Swoopes added, “Basketball is a physical sport. It just is, and I think what people are doing or saying when it comes to Angel Reese, Chennedy Carter when it comes to the Chicago Sky, I think it’s coming from people that really don’t know the game and understand basketball.”

There is an argument that Reese’s foul on Clark was something common enough to the game that it could be categorized as a “basketball play.” However, the issue here is how the league handled plays like this earlier in the season.

There was no foul called on this play. Incredible. Ridiculous.

And, of course, here we have this case of simple assault by Chennedy Carter that was initially called a common foul and was only upgraded after the internet exploded in outrage.

Perhaps if the WNBA had protected Clark better initially, people wouldn’t freak out every time she gets fouled. But they didn’t. Instead, they let the league’s only real attraction get mauled regularly.

And that’s the league’s fault, not Caitlin Clark’s, the fans or media.


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