Angel Reese’s controversial foul on Caitlin Clark at the weekend was nothing more than ‘a basketball play’ despite the outrage directed towards the Chicago Sky rookie.

That’s the verdict of WNBA great Sheryl Swoopes, who has taken issue with the anger surrounding Clark’s treatment on the court and accused fans and analysts of ‘making it seem like she was assaulted every time’.

In Chicago’s defeat to Indiana on Sunday, Reese picked up a flagrant-one foul after missing a block and instead smacking Clark straight on the head, which sent her tumbling to the floor.

After the controversy of last month’s game between the Sky and Fever – when Reese appeared to congratulate teammate Chennedy Carter for shoving Clark to the ground – the latest foul on Indiana’s No. 1 draft pick has again sparked uproar.

Yet according to four-time WNBA champion Swoopes, the fury over Clark’s treatment on the court is not justified.

Caitlin Clark

Sheryl Swoopes

WNBA legend Sheryl Swoopes (right) has slammed the outrage over Caitlin Clark’s treatment

‘It’s the clip they wanna post because they’re gonna get all these likes and reposts… but that’s a basketball play,’ Swoopes, the first woman to ever be signed in the WNBA, said about Reese’s foul on Clark during an appearance on Gil’s Arena.

‘She hit her in the head so of course, it should be upgraded to a flagrant 1. Ref’s looked at it, they upgraded it.

‘[But] can we keep playing basketball? My thing is, every time Caitlin gets fouled, we can’t make it seem like she was assaulted. Fouling is a part of basketball.’

Clark and Reese have brought their memorably college rivalry over to the big leagues, with the latter famously mocking her nemesis by performing her trademark celebration in the 2023 NCAA championship game.

Now they are doing battle and making headlines once more in the WNBA, with Sunday’s controversy adding fuel to the fire.

Reese was not ejected from the game for the foul, as it was deemed to be excessive but not unnecessary as her swinging arm came from a normal basketball move.

‘I think we were playing really hard,’ the Sky star said after the game. ‘I think we went up really strong a lot of times and we didn’t get a lot of calls.’

‘And going back and looking at the film, I’ve seen a a lot of calls that weren’t made,’ Reese continued before aiming a dig at Clark. ‘I guess some people got a special whistle.’

In Chicago's defeat to Indiana on Sunday, Angel Reese (right) picked up a flagrant-one foul after missing a block and instead smacking Clark straight on the head

In Chicago’s defeat to Indiana on Sunday, Angel Reese (right) picked up a flagrant-one foul after missing a block and instead smacking Clark straight on the head

Reese's foul on Clark has sparked more outrage over the rough treatment of Clark on court

Reese’s foul on Clark has sparked more outrage over the rough treatment of Clark on court

Dave Portnoy led the criticism of Reese on social media after her foul on the Indiana Fever star

Dave Portnoy led the criticism of Reese on social media after her foul on the Indiana Fever star

Clark, meanwhile, refused to blame Reese and admitted it was ‘just part of basketball’.

‘What’s going through my mind is I gotta make these two free throws. That’s all I’m thinking about,’ Clark said.

‘It’s just part of basketball. It is what it is. She’s trying to make a play on the ball and get the block. Yeah, it happens.’

The incident has divided opinion in recent days, with Dave Portnoy leading the criticism of Reese on social media.

‘Caitlin Clark takes the high road, and all Angel Reese does after the game is take shots at her,’ Portnoy said. ‘That’s a flagrant, so shut up, Angel Reese. You can’t have your cake.

‘All she does is complain [and] whine. She has the main character syndrome. You aren’t Caitlin. You’re never gonna be Caitlin. So shut the f*** up. And own it.’

However, ESPN First Take host Stephen A. Smith took a slightly different view, accusing WNBA referees of affording Clark favorable treatment despite admitting Reese was rightly pulled up for the foul.

‘I also think to some degree they’re looking for something from Angel Reese,’ Smith said.

‘Because if you recall when Chennedy Carter bumped or shoved Caitlin Clark to the floor, what was that, June 1 if I remember correctly? You got footage of Angel Reese getting up and clapping and stuff.’

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