Fever's Caitlin Clark 'as positive as possible' amid sour WNBA start

May 23 (UPI) -- Coming off the best game of her young WNBA career, Caitlin Clark said she is trying to remain "as positive as possible" as her Indiana Fever team dropped to 0-5 to start the season.

Clark totaled 21 points, seven rebounds and seven assists in the 85-83 loss to the Seattle Storm on Wednesday in Seattle.


She made just 6 of 16 shots and was 2 of 8 from 3-point range, but also tied her season-low with three turnovers and did not log a foul for the first time in five starts.

"I'm just trying to be as positive as possible, continue to learn, continue to stack days," Clark told reporters. "I know that first win will be right around the corner."

Clark, who made 46.2% of her field goals and 37.7% of her 3-pointers in college, made 40.3% of her field goals and 32.6% of her 3-pointers so far for the Fever. College basketball's all-time leading scorer, who joined the Fever as the No. 1 overall pick in the 2024 WNBA Draft, also leads the league in turnovers per game (5.8).


Clark's presence has brought unprecedented interest to the WNBA. ESPN's broadcast of the 2024 WNBA Draft received an average of 2.45 million viewers, setting a record for the event. The previous mark was 601,000 viewers (2004).

Clark's WNBA debut, a 92-71 loss on May 14 to the Connecticut Sun, was the most-watched WNBA game ever on an ESPN platform, with a peak viewership of 2.3 million.

Her third game, against the New York Liberty, was the most-viewed WNBA game in ABC history. While her merchandise continues to fly off shelves, Clark also continues to supplement her income with record endorsement deals.

One of those deals put her in the same company as Michael Jordan. Wilson Sporting Goods announced that multi-year partnership with Clark on Tuesday, giving Clark a signature collection and naming her a brand ambassador. Jordan is the only other known athlete who had a signature collection with Wilson.

The Fever guard also has had deals with Gatorade and Nike, among others.

In addition to her endorsements, improved statistics and evolving imprint on viewership, Clark also has helped opposing teams fill arenas. A crowd of 18,343 helped the Storm set an attendance record Wednesday in Seattle. That also was the largest in-person audience to watch a WNBA regular-season game since 2018.


"It was pretty incredible," Clark said. "That crowd and the environment was great. Just looking around, it was a sea of people on both sides and behind the baskets. It was a great game. Obviously, I would have loved if we would have won.

"I hope these fans continue to still show up for Seattle. They've got a great team. Hopefully when we come back they will be here. ... Those are the environments we want to play in across the league."

With that interest, Clark has faced more pressure than a typical rookie. Several WNBA veterans, including all-time leading scorer Diana Taurasi, issued warnings to Clark about to difficulties of acclimation to the professional level, saying "reality is coming."

NBA star LeBron James spoke about similar criticism, perceived slights from peers and pressure he faced early on in his career during an appearance this week with J.J. Redick on the Mind the Game podcast.

"Don't get it twisted, Caitlin Clark is the reason why a lot of great things are going to happen for the WNBA," James said. "For her individually, I don't think she should be involved in nothing that is being said. Just go have fun and enjoy.


"People need to realize, this is the second year in a row the Indiana Fever had the No. 1 pick. That means they aren't that good. People are just crazy about 'she should be doing this and they should be doing that.' It's still a team game, people. I'm rooting for Caitlin because I've been in that seat before."

While she admittedly needs to clean up her turnovers, Clark's 17.8 points per game lead all rookies and ranks No. 15 in the WNBA. Her 5.8 assists per game are ninth-best in the league.

Clark went 0 for 4 and failed to score in the first quarter of Wednesday's game. She went on to tally 16 points in the second half. Kelsey Mitchell and NaLyssa Smith chipped in 17 and 16 points, respectively, for the Fever.

Storm guard Jewell Lloyd scored a game-high 32 points and logged 11 rebounds and six assists in the win.

Clark and the Fever will battle Cameron Brink, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2024 WNBA Draft, and the Los Angeles Sparks (1-2), trying again for their first win, at 10 p.m. EDT Friday in Los Angeles.

"The world is telling them they should be winning games right now, and they are young," Fever coach Christie Sides said. "We are the youngest, most inexperienced team in the league. We have [an average of] 3.5 years of experience. Connecticut has 7.6 or something like that.


"We are just trying to figure it out. They are doing a great job and staying positive. I'm proud of them for that and we are going to get there."

The Fever will take on the back-to-back reigning champion Las Vegas Aces (2-1) at 9 p.m. Saturday in Las Vegas.

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