Caitlin Clark Reveals Her Painful ‘Welcome to the W’ Moment

Caitlin Clark says she ruptured her eardrum during the Indiana Fever’s game against the New York Liberty in Brooklyn on June 2.

She told reporters about it on Friday before the Fever’s June 21 game against the Atlanta Dream. Clark was asked pregame if she had a “welcome to the W” moment yet in her rookie season.

Caitlin Clark on her “Welcome to the W” moment:

“I actually ruptured my ear drum when we were in New York on a tough screen….great screens, I just didn’t hear them. So, it’s kind of my own fault.”

(Q: @3ptCnvrsn) #WNBA

— Meghan L. Hall (@ItsMeghanLHall) June 21, 2024

“Honestly, I’ve been popped on a couple screens,” she admitted. “I actually ruptured my eardrum when we were in New York on a tough screen. So, if I had to pick one right now it’d probably be that. But like great screens, I just didn’t hear them so it’s kind of my own fault.”

Clark didn’t miss any games with her injury. With the Liberty winning that one in a blowout, the rookie headed back to the locker room in the fourth quarter, but she was back for the Fever’s next game at Washington. She had 30 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assists, and 4 steals in the 85-83 win over the Mystics.

The Liberty Have Hit Caitlin Clark Hard Twice with Tough Screens

The Fever and Liberty have met three times already this year, twice at Barclays Center. In both New York home games, Clark ran into hard screens that made their rounds on social media.

The first came on May 16 in the Liberty’s home opener when she ran into reigning MVP Breanna Stewart.

Caitlin Clark running into a Breanna Stewart screen 😬

— Jeff Eisenband (@JeffEisenband) May 18, 2024

The second was against 2021 MVP Jonquel Jones. We don’t know for sure if this is the one that ruptured Clark’s eardrum, but it sure seems like a good bet.

Caitlin Clark revealed in an interview that she ruptured an eardrum running into a screen against the New York Liberty

“great screens, I just didn’t hear them. So, it’s kind of my own fault.”#WNBA

— Clark Report (@CClarkReport) June 21, 2024

The fan’s instinct might be to criticize Clark’s teammates for not calling out the screens, but keep in mind the Liberty sold out both of their games against the Fever in the 17,000-seat Barclays Center. And those fans were loud. All game.

Caitlin Clark Is Still Adjusting to the WNBA

The Indiana Fever started 1-8 but have gone 6-2 since. Clark has had her ups and downs in the process but seems to be growing more comfortable in the WNBA. Over her last three games, she’s averaging 19 points, 8 rebounds, and 7 assists.

More telling, perhaps, is that she has become more efficient. In that span, she is shooting 43% from three and 54% from the field. Compare that to the 31% she shot from three in the 13 games prior and the 36% she shot overall.

That’s not to say she has it all figured out. Clark is still on pace to obliterate the WNBA’s single-season turnover record. She had 7 more against the Dream on Friday.

It’s hard to be overly harsh on Clark, however. Keep in mind that as a rookie in the WNBA, she’s coming off a full college season. Her Iowa Hawkeyes advanced to the national championship game, meaning Clark was playing on meaningful basketball right up until the week before the WNBA Draft.

She’s managed to stay relatively healthy despite the lack of rest, exacerbated even more by the Fever’s schedule front-loaded to the first few weeks of the season and Clark playing north of 30 minutes per game every night.

Welcome to the W.

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