Caitlin Clark Lights Up SNL With Dawn Staley Tribute, Sends Fans Into Frenzy Over Diana Taurasi Snub

Published 04/14/2024, 2:21 AM EDT

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How often have we seen a college basketball star grace the sets of Saturday Night Live? But then again, players like Caitlin Clark don’t come around often. After breaking numerous NCAA records (both men and women), SNL invited Clark as she was in New York City for the upcoming WNBA Draft. The ever-so-creative script turned even more enticing when the NCAA’s all-time leading scorer dunked over Michael Che and paid tributes to the legends of women’s basketball.

After making fun of Che for all the times he has joked about women’s basketball, Caitlin Clark gave a shout-out to the superwomen of the sport. However, instead of the names she took, it became more about the names she didn’t mention.

She said, “I’m sure it will be a big first step for me. But it’s just one step for the WNBA. Thanks to all the great players like Sheryl Swoopes, Lisa Leslie, Cynthia Cooper, the great Dawn Staley, and my basketball hero Maya Moore. These are the women that kicked down the door so I could walk inside. So, I’m gonna thank them for laying the foundation.”

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Earlier during the “Weekend Update” Michael Che joked that Clark would have her jersey retired in Iowa and “replaced with an apron” When Che welcomed Clark on the set, she took the opportunity to give it back to the host. Clark asked Che to read jokes that she wrote for him. One of them was “Netflix’s top new show is ‘Ripley,’ featuring an eerie, unsettling performance by actor Andrew Scott. Critics say it’s’ the hardest thing to watch on Netflix since Michael Che’s special ‘Shame the Devil.'”

The 6-ft sensation then moved to Che saying, “Michael since you’re such a great fan, I bought you a souvenir. It’s an apron signed by me.” The guard also added a twist to Che’s response of giving it to his girlfriend, saying, “You don’t have a girlfriend, Michael.” It was indeed another epic script by the SNL and Clark only added to it.

Her appearance on the “Weekend Update” drew rapturous cheers and applause and fans online also showered their love. Consequently, fans not only noticed the names that she mentioned and thanked to but also the ones she did not.

“So classy”, fans in awe of SNL special from Caitlin Clark

Caitlin has one heck of a presence with the crowd, and her SNL appearance was the proof. But while her stop at the Manhattan studio was to acknowledge her own accomplishments, she gave it a classy turn. She did appreciate what Che and Jost had to say about her, but also brought the legends to the stage by giving them an ovation.

As a result, fans were loving her for this act. They showed their admiration in the comments section of the clip from X of her shout-out to South Carolina’s legendary head coach, Dawn Staley. Despite losing against Staley’s Gamecocks in the National Championship Game a week ago, she gave her flowers to the icon of women’s basketball. A fan termed Clark “classy” for her gesture.

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Fans also noticed how Clark left out the Phoenix Mercury legend Diana Taurasi. Taurasi has often been dismissive of Clark during her analysis this season. During a simulcast by Taurasi and Sue Bird, Taurasi was asked if Clark could hoist up the same 30-footers she shoots for Iowa if she played for UConn (where Taurasi went to school). Her answer was a blunt no.

Hence, a fan felt Taurasi would be “upset” by Clark’s snub.

 

During Iowa’s Final Four showdown with UConn, Bird and Taurasi answered a fan question about who they would prefer as a first pick in the WNBA Draft. While Bird highlighted the strengths of Clark and UConn’s Paige Bueckers, Taurasi was quick to say, “I’m taking Paige. Next question.”

Another fan too took note when the 3x WNBA Champion Taurasi was left out by the 22-year-old.

During her appearance on SNL, Clark mentioned Maya Moore as her hero. Moore, named the “greatest winner in the history of women’s basketball” by Sports Illustrated, is a four-time WNBA Champion and was named WNBA Finals MVP (2013) and WNBA MVP (2014). Other names taken by Clark included the first-ever player signed by the WNBA, Sheryl Swoopes, and Lisa Leslie, a three-time WNBA MVP and a four-time Olympic gold medal winner.

Still, Taurasi, an accomplished player herself, was left out by Clark. A fan pointed it out as a “nice get back.”

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Taurasi recently mentioned that stepping up to the WNBA won’t be easy for Clark and other players from college basketball. Still, Clark’s achievements at the college level suggest that she will be more than capable of handling the level of the WNBA.
Clark’s SNL appearance marks a rare occasion that a women’s college basketball player has appeared on the show. A fan mentioned that they are yet to see critics of Clark such as Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi on SNL.

Seems like before even landing in the WNBA, this game-changer has made some enemies. Some legendary ones in fact. It will be interesting how it all will turn out for the rookie as she steps into the WNBA after tomorrow’s draft event.

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Written by:

Srashti Sharma

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Srashti Sharma is an NBA writer at EssentiallySports, known for her in-depth researching skills. From the very first time that she heard about Kobe Bryant, she herself cultivated a Mamba Mentality. She loves the competitive nature of the sport which fuels her inner sportswoman.
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Edited by:

Pragya Vashisth