Caitlin Clark hailed as savior in hero’s welcome to Indianapolis

By Thomson Reuters Apr 17, 2024 | 11:33 AM

Caitlin Clark received a hero’s welcome to Gainbridge Coliseum on Wednesday morning as the No. 1 overall pick in the WNBA draft stepped into her new home arena to flocks of fans and a packed opening press conference.

“I’m super happy to be here. Thank you to the Fever, the Pacers. This is a dream come true,” said Clark, a two-time National Player of the Year at Iowa and the all-time leading scorer in Division I basketball history.

Indianapolis literally painted the town to usher Clark into a stadium adorned with a 20-foot banner, billboards and video displays of her in an already sold-out No. 22 Fever jersey. More than 6,000 people attended a draft party on Monday to celebrate her arrival.

Clark delivered an opening statement and paused mid-sentence to identify Tamika Catchings in an audience that included her parents.

“I can’t think of a better place for myself to start my career. A place that loves basketball, supports women’s basketball, and an organization that really does things the right way, has championship pedigree,” Clark said.

Indiana had a 13-27 record in 2023 to secure its second consecutive No. 1 pick in the draft. The Fever last had a winning season in 2015.

Clark follows 2023 No. 1 pick Aliyah Boston to Indianapolis and said staying in the Midwest — she’s about five hours from the Iowa campus — felt like a scripted end to her storied college career.

“There’s just so much talent on this roster. Obviously Aliyah has been one of my teammates before with USA Basketball and I know first-hand how great she is. Erica Wheeler is somebody that’s been having my back and we’re not even teammates yet. A vet, somebody that’s been in the league for a really long time. As a point guard you need someone to lean on, that’s going to have your back, to ask questions.”

Fever GM Lin Dunn called drafting Clark “a powerful moment” and thanked Clark’s parents and Iowa coach Lisa Bluder for their work with her, tipping her cap to the wildly popular Clark for helping forward the game of basketball.

“At times it doesn’t feel real. I feel like I’m kind of stuck in a dream at times,” said Clark, a 22-year-old self-described perfectionist. “I think the biggest thing I try to remember is how grateful I am to have this opportunity. There’s so many people that would kill to be in my shoes. … I just try to remind myself of how grateful I am. I’m lucky to have these moments.”

–Field Level Media