Caitlin Clark lauds childhood idol Diana Taurasi ahead of first WNBA matchup: ‘One of the greatest players’ (nuna)

Diana Taurasi is widely regarded as one of the greatest players in WNBA history. Meanwhile, rookie Caitlin Clark has helped bring an unprecedented amount of attention to women’s basketball.

Clark and the Indiana Fever will faceoff with Taurasi and the Phoenix Mercury on Sunday. The game will mark Clark’s first opportunity to compete against Taurasi in the WNBA.

Clark was asked about her feelings leading up to the highly anticipated matchup with a player she grew up idolizing.

Caitlin Clark #22 of the Indiana Fever warms up before the game /ah at Wintrust Arena on June 23, 2024 in Chicago, Illinois. Getty Images© \Quinn Harris/Getty Images

“It’s incredible,” Clark told reporters on Saturday about Taurasi’s two-decade run in the league. “I don’t think people realize how hard that is to do.”

Clark also said taking the court for a game against a player of Taurasi’s caliber was “a dream come true. You get to live out your dream while playing against the best.”

Diana Taurasi #3 of the Phoenix Mercury looks on during the game against the Las Vegas Aces on May 14, 2024 at Michelob ULTRA Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. Getty Images© Getty Images

Clark went on to describe Taurasi as one of the WNBA’s all-time greats. “Obviously, she’s one of the greatest players our game has ever seen, the greatest scorer our game has ever seen,” Clark said.

Despite Clark’s latest praise, a budding rivalry between the two high-profile players could be on the horizon.

When Taurasi was asked to share her thoughts on facing Clark for the first time, she delivered a brief response. “Yeah, it’ll be fun,” she said.

In April, Taurasi was asked about what incoming WNBA rookies could expect. She proceeded to suggest that a rude awakening was in store.

“Look, SVP, reality is coming,” Taurasi told ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt during an appearance on SportsCenter on April 6. “There’s levels to this thing. And that’s just life. We all went through it. You see it on the NBA side, and you’re going to see it on this side. You look superhuman playing against 18-year-olds, but you’re going to (be playing against) some grown women that have been playing professional basketball for a long time.”

Caitlin Clark #22 of the Indiana Fever looks on during the game against the Seattle Storm on June 27, 2024 at Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle, Washington. Getty Images© Getty Images

While the comments were about the rookie class as a whole, some believed the remarks were a direct jab at Clark, who dominated at the college basketball level.

Nevertheless, Taurasi and Clark also share some similarities. Taurasi is the WNBA’s career scoring leader, while no one scored more points at the NCAA Division I level than Clark. Both point guards are also strong 3-point shooters.

Taurasi is one of three players on the Mercury’s roster who will represent the US in Paris next month for the Olympics, joining Brittney Griner and guard Kahleah Copper. Team USA will be competing for a record eight consecutive Olympic gold medal.

The 2024 Olympic roster notably does not include any players who recently rose from the collegiate ranks. Clark’s exclusion from the roster sparked considerable debate. Her teammate and the league’s reigning rookie of the year, Aliyah Boston was also left off the roster.

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