Hopefully the Caitlin Clark effect doesn’t end with Caitlin Clark

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The buzz around Caitlin Clark eclipsing Pete Maravich’s record on Sunday was enough to get celebs to Iowa City for the occasion. I’m not talking about Travis Scott. Jake from State Farm might be sports’ Forrest Gump, but celebs walking into college arenas to dap up the TV insurance guy while neglecting to acknowledge Maya Moore like Scott did Sunday says something about the culture. If Jake from State Farm of all people has this sort of cultural crossover, the Caitlin Clark Effect will definitely travel to the WNBA as well.

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But when she does head to the WNBA, fans need to maintain that energy for contemporary peers and legends who came before her. Hopefully the eyeballs will compel casual fans to inquire into more than just Clark. As my astute colleague Stephen Knox succinctly put it, “Jake From State Farm is on TV all the time. All Maya Moore did was leave a Hall of Fame career on a Muhammed Ali type of religious principle to fight injustice in the American penal system.”

You wouldn’t brush past Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to ask Flo from Progressive how the rest of the insurance fam is doing. However, we’ve become accustomed to flaunting our ignorance as a country. Television and social media have poisoned our society to the extent that we think it’s normal to float Dwayne Johnson as a presidential candidate. Hoops fans feel better projecting how they don’t know who the WNBA’s stars are out of a commitment to signal how little they care as a form of disrespect.

Jake having more clout than a woman who was a 4-time WNBA champion, Finals MVP, Rookie of the Year, and two national titles by the time she was 30 is unfortunate. Prior to Clark shattering Maravich’s record, Moore spoke to Clark’s influence on the increased visibility of women’s hoops.

“Getting appreciated for all the wonderful things these athletes do on the court. That’s all we’ve been saying,” Moore said on ESPN’s College Gameday. “Give us a chance to be seen and you’re gonna like what you see.”

The casual fan won’t know who Moore is. As opposed to Clark’s fresh fame, Moore’s collegiate career ended when Twitter was in its nascent stages while her playing style was not as aesthetically pleasing as Clark’s, her talents were timeless and her sacrifice was even more profound. Moore left behind the WNBA in 2019 to focus on what was ultimately a successful bid to free Jonathan Irons, who was 20 years into a 50-year sentence for a crime he was wrongly convicted of. You won’t find that in commercials, though.

Kelsey Plum didn’t garner our attention quite like this when she dropped 57 points on Senior Day to become Division I’s women’s basketball scoring queen in 2017. Nor did Moore when she was winning national titles at UConn or when she was leading a Minnesota Lynx WNBA dynasty.

Armchair analysts including Darren Rovell, who are adamant that Clark is leaving money on the table by going pro despite everything to the contrary are coming out of the woodwork. More ignorance.

A lack of abject permanence would have you believe that the WNBA is a step down financially for Clark despite evidence to the contrary that those NIL sponsorships don’t dry up when she goes pro. Angel Reese’s and Clark’s light animosity towards one another is exactly what fans claim to want in the NBA. You’ll get that at the next level, too.

Clark has been anointed as a cultural phenomenon. She’ll still be so after the NCAA Tournament. That includes when she’s drafted No. 1 by the Indiana Fever, who hold the number one pick in the upcoming WNBA Draft. Jake from State Farm will grace the Fieldhouse in Indiana with his presence. Maybe you’ll catch Travis Scott there, too, and hopefully he and the casual fan will know who Clark’s contemporaries are.

Find DJ Dunson on X: @cerebralsportex

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