PHOENIX MERCURY

Diana Taurasi on Caitlin Clark: ‘It’s going to translate … it’s going to take time’

May 17, 2024, 9:31 AM

Phoenix Mercury star Diana Taurasi unintentionally caused a rift last month when she pumped the brakes on projecting how then-Iowa star Caitlin Clark’s rookie season would go.

“Reality is coming,” she said, before explaining the why. Those three words out of Taurasi’s mouth on SportsCenter were taken by some as downplaying Clark’s resume and talent. Others defended Taurasi for speaking truth.

Thanks to online aggregators, few read what else Taurasi said after those three words.

And after Clark’s first two games as a pro with the Indiana Fever — she’s combined to shoot 30% with nine assists to 13 turnovers — Taurasi’s comments are again being heavily referenced.

“You know these days, everything takes a life of their own,” Taurasi told Arizona Sports’ Bickley & Marotta on Friday. “Every little snippet, every little comment, any quote taken out of context. Look, I only said it because when I watch games — and I’m sure when you talk to any professional athlete — you think about what they’ll look like as a pro.

“How will it translate? It’s going to translate. Like any college quarterback, it’s going to take time.”

Because of the WNBA’s schedule, there has been little time for Clark to acclimate to the pro game’s pace and physicality. There is no offseason to train full-time and a brief training camp and preseason to get a taste of the pro league’s style.

It’s especially a short offseason after a deep NCAA Tournament run by Clark and Iowa.

The Hawkeyes lost in the title game to South Carolina on April 7 before Clark was drafted by Indiana a week later on April 15. She made her pro debut on Tuesday, 29 days after that.

Speaking of the time it takes for the game to slow down and the processing to catch up:

“I still don’t feel comfortable,” the 21-year veteran Taurasi said, speaking on the physicality of the WNBA. “It’s an uncomfortable league. It’s physical, it’s a grind. You never feel comfortable. You feel used to the things around you (as you play more). At the same time, she’s in an interesting position where she’s played on the ball her whole career. Sometimes you have to play off the ball, sometimes that’s the solution.”

What did Diana Taurasi say about Caitlin Clark to spark controversy?

Taurasi’s viral comments about Clark date back to her ESPN telecast alongside friend Sue Bird, as they watched UConn’s loss against Iowa in the NCAA Tournament’s Final Four.

“Reality is coming,” Taurasi told SportsCenter’s Scott Van Pelt. “There’s levels to this thing. That’s just life, we all went through it. You look superhuman playing against 18-year-olds, but you’re going to come against some grown women that have been playing professional basketball for a long time.

“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 where you’re going to have to give yourself grace as a rookie.”

Taurasi also possibly came across as anti-Clark during the game itself. Asked by Bird whether she would draft Clark or Huskies guard Paige Bueckers, the former UConn star said this:

“I’m taking Paige, next question,” Taurasi said.

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