Clark, much like Bird, focus of discussion on race and double standards

Clark, much like Bird, focus of discussion on race and double standards

For much of the past two years, Caitlin Clark has been the centerpiece of the college basketball world.

Now Clark, like NBA Hall of Famer Larry Bird was 45 years ago, is involuntarily the focus of discussions about race and her transition to professional basketball. Though Clark hasn’t said anything to fuel the Black-White narrative surrounding her meteoric rise, talks about a double standard are being had.

“I think it’s a huge thing. I think a lot of people may say it’s not about Black and White, but to me, it is,” Las Vegas Aces star A’ja Wilson said when asked about the race element in Clark’s popularity and before she recently signed two major endorsement deals. “It really is because you can be top notch at what you are as a Black woman, but yet maybe that’s something that people don’t want to see.

They don’t see it as marketable, so it doesn’t matter how hard I work. It doesn’t matter what we all do as Black women, we’re still going to be swept underneath the rug. That’s why it boils my blood when people say it’s not about race because it is.”

To be clear, Clark is a skilled hardcourt savant from Iowa. Bird was a skilled hardcourt savant from Indiana State. And like Bird, Clark has captivated audiences and brought unmatched attention to women’s basketball with an ability to score from every corner of the court.

Neither Bird nor Clark were the first great White male or female pro basketball players. Jerry West is the actual NBA logo and before Clark, the long list of talented White WNBA players included Sue Bird and Breanna Stewart.

But sports can be elevated by a heated rivalry, particularly when race is involved.

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