Diana Taurasi and Brittney Griner gesture to Caitlin Clark shows how they feel about WNBA rookie

As the Indiana Fever and Phoenix Mercury prepared to tip off the WNBA’s final game of June on Sunday, Brittney Griner and Diana Taurasi each exchanged a brief hug with star rookie Caitlin Clark near the mid-court circle that made it clear they felt positively about the newcomer.

The embrace of Clark from the icons – Griner and Taurasi have combined for 18 All-Star appearances across their illustrious careers – came after the young point guard made comments that some interpreted as a somber admission about treatment from the league’s veterans.

During a postgame media availability this week, Clark was asked, “What’s the best advice given to you in-game this season?” The Fever rookie responded by saying, “Nobody gives me advice in games. I wish,” before a wry laugh. Much has been made of the relationship between WNBA veterans and some of the big names in this year’s rookie class headlined by Clark, but there was a clear sign of respect displayed by Taurasi, Griner and Clark before tip-off on Sunday.

The pregame pleasantries quickly gave way to expected playoff intensity, as Griner kicked off a spree of five technicals whistled during a two-minute stretch of the second quarter. None of those incidents centered on Clark, however. Griner delivered a two-handed shove to the head-and-neck area of front-court counterpart Aliyah Boston during a fiery deadball encounter.

Minutes later, Phoenix’s Kahleah Copper and Natasha Cloud, along with Indiana’s Temi Fagbenle and Erica Wheeler, all received double technical fouls after the two teams attempted to huddle inside the painted area. Yet all seemed friendly from the Mercury toward Clark.

Previously, the attitudes of WNBA veterans became a source of concern for some fans, as Clark left behind her illustrious college career to become the league’s No. 1 overall draft pick. The discourse was sparked in part by Taurasi seemingly downplaying the lofty goals placed upon Clark for her rookie season. “Reality is coming. There’s levels to this thing. And that’s just life, we all we

“You see it on the NBA side, and you’re going to see it on this side. You look superhuman playing against 18-year-olds, but you’re going to come with some grown women that have been playing professional basketball for a long time.”

“Not saying that it’s not going to translate, because when you’re great at what you do, you’re just going to get better. But there is going to be a transition period, where you’re just going to have to give yourself grace as a rookie, and it might take a little bit longer for some people.”

Taurasi’s Mercury team also leaned into this budding rivalry between the two perimeter players, billing the first matchup between their star and Clark as “The GOAT vs. The Rook.” Taurasi, though, has appeared to turn into more of a mentor figure, as evidenced by her behavior over the weekend.

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