Caitlin Clark official joins Michael Jordan in elite club with record-breaking rookie season makes millions of FAN admire, but it is Caitlin Clark’s humility that surprises everyone

Caitlin Clark joins Michael Jordan in elite club with record-breaking rookie season

The number one overall continues to garner sponsorship and attention for its high level of basketball

Indiana Fever guard Caitlin Clark (22) celebrates after making a...

Indiana Fever guard Caitlin Clark (22) celebrates after making a 3-pointer during the second half of a WNBA basketball gameAP

 

Never before has the WNBA garnered as much attention as it has this season, largely thanks to Caitlin Clark’s historic rookie campaign. The number one draft pick has catapulted WNBA ratings to unprecedented heights, with arena attendance breaking records and merchandise sales soaring by an astonishing 236%. Rookie sensations Clark and Angel Reese are leading jersey sales, thanks to their remarkable performances, popularity, and exemplary attitude toward the media. Clark’s name is now synonymous with a wide range of advertising campaigns.

Clark’s latest achievement is a multiyear sponsorship deal with US sports brand Wilson, which will include the release of a signature line of basketballs. Coincidentally, 40 years ago, a rookie who had just joined the NBA with the Chicago Bulls secured a similar contract with Wilson for a line of basketballs. That rookie was none other than Michael Jordan.Clark and Jordan are now the only players in history to have such a deal.

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Amanda Lamb, head of global brand at Wilson, remarked, “Caitlin Clark is not just a record-setting athlete, but a cultural icon who has had a profound impact on the game. We couldn’t be prouder to join forces with her to continue innovating basketball both on and off the court.”

Caitlin Clark’s influence both on and off the court signals a bright future for the league.

The financial details of Clark’s deal with Wilson have not been disclosed, but this partnership could be a sign of where her career is headed. It is, of course, too early to make grand comparisons, as Clark has played just 22 games with the Indiana Fever, far from Jordan’s 1,072 games over 15 seasons. Nevertheless, like Jordan, Clark is revolutionizing the WNBA, and if she can stay healthy, her story might just have a fairytale ending.

Beyond breaking records in marketing, ratings, and sales, Clark has also excelled on the court. In a recent victory for the Fever (9-13) against the New York Liberty (17-4), Clark recorded the first triple-double by a rookie in WNBA history and the first in Indiana Fever history. She is averaging 16 points per game, is third in the league with 7.1 assists per game, and adds 5.7 rebounds per game. Notably, no player in WNBA history has averaged those numbers (16/7/5) in a season, and Clark is achieving this as a rookie.

Caitlin Clark’s humble reaction to historic triple-double in Fever vs. Liberty

Aliyah Boston reminded the room how humble Caitlin Clark is.

— Following many near stat lines this season, Indiana Fever guard Caitlin Clark has finally become the first rookie in WNBA history to reach triple-double territory. The milestone added onto the Fever’s 83-78 win over the league’s best New York Liberty Saturday afternoon.

It also served as the first triple-double in the Fever’s 25-season history. Clark got it with around seven minutes to go in the contest, with Indiana trailing by nine points. The crowd tipped her off by erupting when she snagged her 10th rebound, and gave her an ovation at the next dead ball.

“Well, I was trying to get the crowd to be quiet,” Clark said after. “Somebody was shooting a free throw and I was like, I appreciate it, but trying to get them to be quiet. Obviously, it’s really cool. My teammates have been finishing the ball really, really at a high rate. My assist numbers, that’s because of them.”

In turn, Clark is now the youngest triple-double holder in the WNBA. The previous player was Clark’s opponent Saturday, actually: Sabrina Ionescu. Clark is 22-years-old. Ionescu got the triple-double at 23 years. The New York Liberty guard remains the fastest to ever do it though. She got it in six career games due to an injury her rookie season. Clark isn’t far off at Game 22.

The feat is grand, still. After minutes at the podium, teammate Aliyah Boston had to step in.

“Honestly, I’m just happy we won,” Clark said. “Like I’ve said, I take a lot of pride in being able to do a lot of different things for this team. I think we’re really good when I can get the ball off the glass and go in transition… my teammates made 13 shots off my passes. That goes to them, but I mean, I don’t know.”

“She’s so humble isn’t she?” Boston interrupted into the room.

“Well I don’t know what to say, I mean it’s great, I don’t know,” Clark replied.

“Well let me tell ya,” Boston countered. “That was pretty cool Caitlin. Great job sister.”

How the Fever rallied to beat the Liberty

Going into Saturday, the Liberty bested the Fever in all three prior matchups this season by 86 points combined. When Fever head coach Christie Sides was asked pregame how she could muster the confidence that 17-3 New York is even beatable, she replied with all the confidence in the world. Out of the gate, the Fever went up 15-6 in the first five minutes. Could they do it?

Clark hit three triples in the first quarter, but later didn’t make any of her next eight. The Fever trailed by as many as 11 points with just under nine minutes to go. They came back at Phoenix not too long ago, but New York is the best team in the league. It didn’t matter. Clark made an and-1 layup. And 20 seconds later, she pushed in transition. Kelsey Mitchell hit the tying three.

Gainbridge Fieldhouse lost it. The roof could’ve become unhinged to nobody’s shock.

Caitlin Clark, Fever’s postgame celebration

New York Liberty guard Sabrina Ionescu (20) and Indiana Fever guard Caitlin Clark (22) watch a free throw Saturday

Grace Smith/IndyStar / USA TODAY NETWORK
Fever players and Sides were fired up after the Phoenix win. That victory was signature at the time last week, but the Mercury’s record is level. Saturday was the Fever’s first win over any of the four top WNBA teams this season in front of the raucous home crowd. They were 0-9 prior.

“Well, we gave them two days off in this last week, so they really think that’s what it was,” Sides bantered. “They fought differently tonight and they know that. When I walked in, they were giving everybody the credit. They were really happy for Lexie [Hull]… really happy for [Damiris] Dantas… they showered Caitlin.”

Hull and Dantas, both bench players, made all their shots in the fourth quarter for 10 points. At one point, It looked like the Liberty may march and suffocate the Fever into the season sweep. Indiana outscored New York 17-6 in the final five minutes. Many players made distinct impacts.

That’s what it takes.

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