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Plaschke: Caitlin Clark brings magic to her Hollywood debut

Plaschke: Caitlin Clark brings magic to her Hollywood debut

 


All night, bricks.

And then boom.

All night, horrible.

Next, the dagger.

Caitlin Clark spent most of her first visit to Los Angeles on Friday stuck in terrible traffic, stalling, swerving and slamming on the brakes as her Indiana Fever team headed toward embarrassment.

Next, FasTrak.

Indiana Fever guard Caitlin Clark makes a 3-pointer during the second half of a win over the Sparks on Friday.

Indiana Fever guard Caitlin Clark scores a three-pointer during the second half of a win over the Sparks in Los Angeles on Friday.

(Ashley Landis / Associated Press)

She is truly unreal. She is truly magical.

With 2:27 left and the Fever clinging to a three-point lead against the Sparks at Crypto.com Arena, Clark hit his first three-pointer of the night, a deep, looping trey.

She spread her arms. She stuck out her tongue. The sold-out building shook.

Then, with 40 seconds left and a two-point lead, she did it again, draining a deep rainbow three to clinch a 78-73 victory, earn her first WNBA victory and cement two priceless memories for those who are lucky enough to witness it. .

As Clark walked across the court after the final buzzer, the crowd continued to scream like they were rock stars. When she later went to the post-match press conference, she wore the swaggering smile of a football player.

In her sixth game in the WNBA, after five losses and countless struggles and plenty of criticism, the collegiate icon may have rediscovered herself.

Nights like tonight remind me why I love playing basketball, why I started playing basketball, Clark said. Because you get a win and you walk off the field and there are so many little kids screaming your name and loving looking at you.

If you're wondering how a 22-year-old from Iowa became America's most famous athlete, here's why. It was like that. That was it.

That's what roars are for. This is what 19,103 people came to see. This is what breathed new life into a WNBA which regularly sets attendance and audience records. This is what transformed women's basketball around the world.

These two shots, forged from nine consecutive misses, made by a woman wearing Kobe Bryant shoes and determined to honor the memory of Kobe Bryant.

Kobes is the best, man, she said. That’s the mentality you have to have… you want these moments, you embrace these moments.

On Friday, for the longest time, it seemed like those moments would elude him again. As the Sparks took an 11-point halftime lead and continued to roll early in the fourth quarter, Clark was pushed all over the court by players like Sparks guard Layshia Clarendon and frequent Sparks double teams.

You have to see the 6-foot Clark in person to realize the extent of his disadvantage. She is small. It is light. It's surprising to see this college giant be so easily smothered by the bigger, more aggressive veterans of the WNBA.

She made two of her first 12 shots. She showed off her incredible court vision with several nice assists and grabbed plenty of rebounds, but the best part of her game was missing.

Then, just in time, the greatest scorer in college basketball history showed up.

Sparks guard Layshia Clarendon guards Indiana Fever guard Caitlin Clark in Los Angeles on Friday.

Sparks guard Layshia Clarendon, right, guards Indiana Fever guard Caitlin Clark (22).

(Ashley Landis / Associated Press)

“I don't know if it's a good thing or a bad thing, but I seriously think every shot is going to go in,” Clark said. I want to take these shots at the end of the match. It's like a state of mind and a confidence that you have to have in yourself.

What does this confidence look like? Listen to what she said after that first exhausted trey.

I went to the bench afterwards and told myself I was due. They had to come in, I had missed so many, it was time to come in, she said.

She finished with 11 points, 10 rebounds, eight assists and a nice compliment from the recipient of several of her assists.

Katlins vision is second to none, said Temi Fagbenle, who scored 17. “I love it, I love playing with her. I know I'm open, but I don't know if she knows I'm open, so she knows and I'm like, “Oh my God, she knew!”

She handles it amazingly. She handles it with such composure. … She shows an incredible level of maturity for a 22-year-old. …She's special, she's different.

— Fever coach Christie Sides on Caitlin Clark

Perhaps all of this will convince critics to take a break from the incessant sniping that began with Clark's 10-game debut.

The verdict that she was bankrupt after just five games was so widespread that it pushed her and teammate Aliyah Boston off social media. Many fans seemingly forgot that she was still a rookie and playing for a team so overmatched that they had just won the No. 1 overall draft pick in back-to-back seasons.

People don't want to give us a lot of grace, Clark said. They expect us to be world champions from day one. It's not realistic. There is a learning curve here.

She was often crushed by this curveball, but she continued to move gracefully under America's hottest sports spotlight, answering every question, giving refreshingly honest interviews without ever criticizing anyone but herself. -even.

If you listen to his coach, those two shots from Friday night will be remembered as part of his inspiration.

She handles it amazingly. She handles it with such composure. … She shows an incredible level of maturity for a 22-year-old. … She's special, she's different, Fever coach Christie Sides said of Clark. The balls are just arriving, every day they are scrutinized for everything.

Clark admitted that attention was exhausted,

Honestly, I feel like I talk more to the media than to my own family, which is really sad in a way, she said. That's a lot for a 22 year old. This can sometimes be difficult.

And then, as another memorable Friday night in Hollywood proved, it can be wonderful.

I was excited to come here and play at this place,” Caitlin Clark said. Obviously there is so much history in this building.

And now there are more.

Sources

1/ https://Google.com/

2/ https://www.latimes.com/sports/sparks/story/2024-05-25/indiana-fever-caitlin-clark-wnba-impact

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