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Caitlin Clark disappointed with recent non-basketball-related discussion surrounding WNBA – NBC Sports Chicago

The game between the Chicago Sky and the Indiana Fever on June 1 proved to be a heated duel, with Sky players Angel Reese and Chennedy Carter dishing out some unfair attacks on Caitlin Clark en route to their 71-70 loss.

“They just compete. They don't do anything but compete,” Sky head coach Teresa Weatherspoon said after the game.

But the incident sparked a broader discussion on social media, addressing issues such as race, privilege, right and wrong in basketball, and the consequences of increasing interest and coverage in women's basketball.

Clark stressed that she remained focused on basketball after the game, but she also mentioned the feeling of having a target on her back but trying to stay calm and not hit back.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver recently weighed in on the issue, saying the physicality is “nothing new” to the game and calling it one of their “welcome to the league” moments.

Nevertheless, the debate rages on social media. The rising popularity of women's basketball, coupled with the questionable physical nature of the game, sparked a huge discussion on the internet.

But Clark stays away from it.

“I'm not on social media, so I don't see a lot of it,” Clark said when asked if she's heard any discussions about the game as a whole. “But you'd be surprised because I still have my TV on at home and I watch sports. You're still aware of it and you still see it. Other than that, I'm focused on basketball.”

Clark elaborated on her disappointment with the conversation. She would have preferred the conversation to remain basketball-focused, but she also sees the overall engagement as a positive rather than a shift in attention toward something negative.

“It's annoying sometimes how much the conversation is about nothing but basketball and not about the product on the court, the great players on the court, how good they are for their teams and how great this season has been for women's basketball from college basketball to the WNBA,” Clark said. “Some of the crowds are unprecedented and have never been seen before. The crowd numbers are unbelievable.”

Overall, the increasing popularity and attention of women's basketball is remarkable. As a byproduct of the popularity, players see the benefits. A strong example is the WNBA's $25 million deal to provide charter flights for all teams this season – the first of its kind in women's basketball.

The incident, however, has drawn negative attention to the league and the players involved. But rather than fight it, Clark prefers to stay on the sidelines – or more accurately, on the field.

“But yeah, I try to block it out. I don't have social media on my phone. I don't go on it, I don't watch a lot of it,” Clark said. “I don't think it's that different than when I was in college. Everyone has their own opinion. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. That's just the way it is.”

“I think you just have to focus on what's going on in the locker room, what's going on in the organization, how your teammates are feeling, how your coaches are feeling. And that's my focus for me. But I also have a job to do at the same time. That's what I'm continuing to focus on.”