Pundits ‘disappointed’ with ‘terrible’ decision to omit Caitlin Clark from Olympic team

    Did USA Basketball (USAB) hinder the growth of the women’s game by omitting Caitlin Clark from the 12-man squad for the 2024 Paris Olympics?

    That is the consensus among many prominent media personalities.

    “Are we really trying to grow the game? Because this is the most popular women’s basketball player in the world,” Shannon Sharpe said on ESPN’s “First Take.” “They had to move a Mystics game to an NBA arena because of one player. She’s averaging about 17,000 crowds [for Fever games]. All other games in which she’s not a participant average about 7,000. Are we really trying to grow the game or just talking about it and bull jiving?”

    One of the justifications for Clark being left off has been her lack of experience and USAB wanting to retain players who captured a seventh consecutive gold medal in 2021. To that end, Sharpe pointed to the double standards since Diana Taurasi (2004), Candace Parker (2008), Breanna Stewart (2016) and Rebecca Lobo (1996) made the Olympic squad without any prior international experience. 

    Austin Rivers echoed similar sentiments, blasting USAB for ignoring their past precedents.

    “It’s not always about having the 12 best players,” Rivers said on ESPN’s “NBA Today.” “Is Diana Taurasi a top-12 player? No, right? But she’s there for her experience as the captain. Why couldn’t you do the same with Caitlin? She may not be a top-12 player but she’s the most popular. I know it’s not a popularity contest, but this is a chance to invest in your future…This was a chance to grow the game and make people tune in and watch. I thought it was a miss.”

    Others such as Paul Pierce and USA Today’s Christine Brennan also expressed disappointment at USAB’s decision. 

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