Caitlin Clark on the brink of potential WNBA suspension? Standout rookie sounds off against perceived unfair treatment - Hindustan Times
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Caitlin Clark on the brink of potential WNBA suspension? Standout rookie sounds off against perceived unfair treatment

Jun 01, 2024 07:29 PM IST

Caitlin Clark's technical foul count may land her in trouble this season, but she's still breaking records and in the running for Rookie of the Year title.

Despite the heat temporarily backing off standout Indiana Fever rookie Caitlin Clark after the May 24 victory, the WNBA team's season is majorly mired in a defeated stretch, running the 1-8 streak against their odds. If that wasn't enough to paint shades of disappointment around Clark's major league debut, she's now in deep water, with the potential dangers of her suspension looming in sight.

INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA - MAY 30: Caitlin Clark #22 of the Indiana Fever exchanges words with Victoria Vivians #35 of the Seattle Storm during the first quarter in the game at Gainbridge Fieldhouse on May 30, 2024, in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Getty Images via AFP)
INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA - MAY 30: Caitlin Clark #22 of the Indiana Fever exchanges words with Victoria Vivians #35 of the Seattle Storm during the first quarter in the game at Gainbridge Fieldhouse on May 30, 2024, in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Getty Images via AFP)

Her cumulative technical foul count is rising by the minute. On Thursday night, things took a turn for the worse when the buzz-worthy basketball star squared up against Seattle Storm's guard Victoria Vivians. As the duo was dealt with double technical fouls, Clark's count rose to three with just nine games under her WNBA belt following her debut in the big game earlier this year.

Per WNBA rules, players striking high with seven technical fouls in a season are suspended for a game. Moreover, with every additional technical foul that follows beyond that, another game comes off the player's schedule. With 31 games remaining in the regular season, all eyes are on Clark, who can't afford to be hit with the technical foul callout beyond the third count. Indiana Fever's rivals will especially lock their target on the 22-year-old star, looking for ways to get her off the court.

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The Storm ultimately struck down Indiana with a staggering 103-88 loss on Thursday.

Why was Caitlin Clark served a technical foul on Thursday?

Before the half, Indiana trailed Seattle 34-25. Caitlin came to her team's rescue, but only barely with a three-pointer shot. However, Vivians didn't let her have it easy and the pair got entangled in a heated moment while running down the court. Each earned a technical for the fierce clash.

In another following face-off, Fever coach Christie Sides had Clark's back. Moments before she received a technical foul, she struck out an argument with the referee during the third quarter. Referencing Seattle's Sami Whitcomb's offensive fouls on Clark that were ignored, Sides said after their loss, "I feel like they’re getting some calls that’s happening on our end as well, and I just don’t feel like we’re getting some of those.”

Her previous technical fouls came from her crossing words with officials. After a devastating loss to the Connecticut Sun, a technical struck her when she told off the referee, “It's a f**king foul”, following a play that didn't invite the referee's whistle.

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How Caitlin Clark responded to the supposed unfair treatment

Though glad her coach supported her through Storm's attack that was never called out for a foul, Clark expressed her thoughts on the growing physicality of the game at the professional level.

Although Sides backed Clark this time, earlier this week, the head coach indirectly cited the rookie's technical foul, saying, “We’re spending too much time talking to the officials. We’ve got to leave that alone. We’ve got to just play our game and let them do their job and not put it in their hands.” Remarking that the team shouldn't be getting technicals, she added, “Let me get the technicals.”

In a postgame press conference, the No. 1 overall pick said, “I feel like I'm getting hammered, I don't know.” Her statement aligned with her previous remarks after Fever's loss to the Los Angeles Sparks on Tuesday, “I think everybody is physical with me, they get away with things that probably other people don't get away with.”

Despite her team's consecutive losses, Clark still leads ahead as the front-running player to potentially bag the Rookie of the Year title.

On Thursday, she scored 30 points, five rebounds, six assists, three steals, and three blocks, becoming the first WNBA rookie (and fourth player overall) to record a 30-5-5-3-3 stat line. Moreover, she's averaged 17.6 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 6.6 assists per game through the nine matches so far.

For now, Caitlin Clark will be heading off to her next professional game of the season on Saturday, June 1, as the Indiana Fever vs Chicago Sky clash tips off at 12 pm ET.

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