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All eyes have been on Caitlin Clark, a once-in-a-generation talent who has brought a new demographic of fans to women’s basketball. It began with her unrivaled dominance in college. Playing for Iowa, Clark left a path full of broken records and became the most decorated scorer in women’s NCAA history. Her hype has reached the summit very quickly. Over 2 million watched her get drafted first by the Indiana Fever. It was the most for a WNBA broadcast since 2000. Clark has mastered her shooting mechanics, can twist defenders when going to the rim, and has refined playmaking abilities, making the game easier for everyone around her.

Watching her subliminal performances from college translating to the WNBA, several stars had their jaws dropping. A wave of excitement took over. LeBron James, one of the biggest stars the NBA has ever had, spoke highly of Clark on his podcast, ‘Mind the Game’. The 39-year-old said she has been a magnet for viewers, alluding to the record-breaking surge in audience the WNBA has experienced this season. Yet, the fans weren’t appreciative. They chose to berate King James for maybe jumping on the train too late. But was the backlash justified?

Our NBA Correspondent Vishal Kolar spoke to Leonard Amrato, a brand builder for transcending athletes such as Shaquille O’Neal about the effervescent impact Clark has had on the WNBA and James’ recent comments. The super agent had nothing but praise and uplifting words for the WNBA rookie sensation and even made his stance clear on the hate James has been exposed to for his comments.

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Vishal: “LeBron earlier in the week talked about how he’s so happy, right? Caitlin is bringing new people to the sport. You know obviously, there is a backlash to this where people are saying he could have said this a long time ago or he could have pushed more fans towards the WNBA to bring more attention. So it’s like what’s your assessment of some of that criticism coming on LeBron and even other NBA All-Stars and media personalities that are just now talking about the league but never had a voice or opinion before?”

Armato: “I mean, I think what LeBron said was perfect. I think it’s ridiculous to criticize him for saying that. He’s just trying to say that he congratulated her on creating more visibility for women’s basketball. If you think about it, women’s sports, for the most part, does not attract a mass audience. It’s basically niche audiences except for World Cup, except for maybe the Olympics, and except for Caitlin Clark! Other than that, you don’t get those numbers watching sports. I mean, you said it best earlier Vishal, we were all huddled around an iPad in Scottsdale, Arizona watching Caitlin Clark play in the Finals of the NCAA tournament this year. So I think what LeBron said was perfect. You know, don’t criticize people for noticing now that women’s sports is gaining momentum. People in our culture sometimes tend to want to judge everything everyone is saying. I think we need to stop that. ” 

Maybe LeBron James didn’t project such astronomical growth with the intervention of one prodigy. However, Armato’s stance is right. He is promoting the sport at the right moment when its peak seems to be stretching higher by the second. Even when the Fever was horrible, winning just three of their 13 games this season, Clark’s allure compelled fans to witness just how masterful she truly is.

Fans could relate to her game. She also created a sense of uneasiness in the prevalent stars of the NBA. The brand of basketball has improved significantly and the quality of play is on an upward trajectory too. Arenas are filling up more than ever, crowd records are being shattered and Clark and other rookie standouts such as Angel Reese and Cameron Brink are bringing revenue to the league, amassing the best jersey sales.

This is only the beginning of the WNBA in the Caitlin Clark era. Once the Fever submitted their team’s throne to the stupendous talent, we could see conquering similar to what the 22-year-old did in college. The potential is limitless and women’s basketball is entering its most prosperous phase. And everyone is here to get a glimpse of the rise.

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The unprecedented impact of Caitlin Clark

Clark was meant to be a blockbuster star. She has the aura that keeps fans watching. Some of her plays are astounding and her control over a single game at times can be overwhelming. The expectation that she could potentially uncannily dominate the WNBA for years to come has fans on the edge of their seats.

Clark, the number one overall pick, has averaged 16.9 points in her first season. The average audience for the WNBA has seen a rampant surge, much due to the current rookie class. The Fever drew an average of 15,591 fans. That’s almost triple of what they accumulated last season according to IBJ. The Indiana Fever are also leading the league in average attendance, with the Liberty coming second at just over 10,000 average crowd attendance at their games.

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The contests are being watched by over 1.32 million viewers. Last season, it only resided at 462,000 according to the WNBA. This new, fearless era has deployed itself in line with the arrival of Caitlin Clark. She isn’t alone responsible for it. However, she remains to be the most important entity in women’s basketball and that’s going to remain for the foreseeable future.

That’s all from this part of our conversation with Armato. Be on the lookout for more pieces from our exclusive interview with the legendary sports marketer in the near future.