‘Stay away from her’: LeBron James defends Caitlin Clark as Iowa fall in NCAA final

LeBron James defended Caitlin Clark on Sunday shortly before her Iowa team lost to South Carolina in the NCAA championship game.

“If you don’t rock with Caitlin Clark game you’re just a FLAT OUT HATER!!!!! Stay far away from them people!! PLEASE,” James wrote on X as the game started.

It was unclear who James was referring to, but a number of current and former players had questioned Clark’s legacy leading up to the game.

Clark broke Lynette Woodard’s record for career points in major women’s college basketball earlier this season. But footage emerged of Woodard, who played in the late 70s and early 80s, questioning Clark’s record. Woodard played before the introduction of three-point shots at a time when the ball was larger in the women’s game.

“I don’t think my record has been broken because you can’t duplicate what you’re not duplicating,” said Woodard. “Unless you come with a men’s basketball and a two-point shot, hey …”

Woodard has also praised Clark, telling ESPN in February that: “I think she’s an awesome player. I would love to meet her.”

Another former player, Diana Taurasi, said Clark may struggle when she joins the professional ranks. Clark is almost certain to be the No 1 overall pick in the upcoming WNBA draft.

Diana Taurasi on Caitlin Clark coming to WNBA “Reality is coming….you look superhuman playing against some 18 years olds but you’re going to come play with some grown women that have been playing professional basketball for a long time” pic.twitter.com/fxBxGoRZCS

— Gifdsports (@gifdsports) April 6, 2024

“Reality is coming … you look superhuman playing against some 18-year-olds but you’re going to come play with some grown women that have been playing professional basketball for a long time,” the 10-time WNBA All-Star said on ESPN on Friday.

Caitlin Clark scored 30 points in the NCAA Tournament championship game but could not lead her team to victory.

“Not saying it’s not going to translate. Because when you’re great at what you do you’re just going to get better, but there is going to be a transition period when you have to give some grace as a rookie. It may take a little bit longer for some people.”

Basketball hall of famer Sheryl Swoopes apologized to Clark earlier this year after incorrectly saying the Iowa star’s scoring feats mattered less because she had five years at college to set them. Clark, in fact, played four years at college.

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“If Kelsey Plum set that record in four years, well, Caitlin should’ve broke that record in four years,” Swoopes said. “But because there’s a Covid year, and then there’s another year, you know what I mean? So she’s already had an extra year to break that record. So, is it truly a broken record? I don’t know. I don’t think so. But yeah, that’ll go in the record books. And, I don’t think it should be.”

Meanwhile two-time WNBA champion Breanna Stewart, said earlier this month that Clark would only be considered the greatest college player in history if she won a national title.

“Yeah, she does [need a title]. I think so,” said the New York Liberty star. “You are going to look 10 years back and you are going to see all the records that she has broken, points and stuff like that, but anybody knows your goal when you play college basketball is to win a national championship. So you need one.”

Clark scored 30 points during Iowa’s loss to unbeaten South Carolina on Sunday as their coach, Dawn Staley, collected her third national title with the Gamecocks. Staley is not among Clark’s critics.

“I personally want to thank Caitlin Clark for lifting up our sport. She carried a heavy load for our sport,” Staley said. “She’s going to lift that league [WNBA] up as well. Caitlin Clark if you’re out there you’re one of the GOATs of our game. We appreciate you.”

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