Shaq Comments on Clark Draft, Money

April 19, 2024

If you watched the NCAA Women’s Basketball Finals, you weren’t alone. The ladies Final Four got the highest TV ratings ever. If you missed the WNBA Draft, well… we did too. Not surprisingly, Iowa superstar Caitlin Clark was drafted Number One by the league’s Indiana Fever. 

The interesting – and surprising – part of the Draft story was not that Clark was taken with the first pick. That was pretty much a no-brainer. What came as a surprise to many fans was the announced first-year salary she’ll be receiving in the WNBA: a little shy of $77,000. 

Compared to the mega-millions handed out to NBA stars – including those just coming out of college – that number came as quite the shock. Reports show that over her first four years in the WNBA, Clark will most likely earn a little over $338,000. 

For those comparing numbers with the men’s side of the game, the Number One pick of last year’s NBA draft was Victor Wembanyama, now in San Antonio. According to Forbes Magazine, his contracts add up to an eye-watering $55.7 million for his first four years in the NBA.

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That comparison – and those numbers – have a lot of people talking, wondering about the huge disparity in pay between the men’s and women’s leagues. Even President Joe Biden weighed in on the issue, putting out on X, “Women in sports continue to push new boundaries and inspire us all. But right now we’re seeing that even if you’re the best, women are not paid their fair share.”

As for our man Shaq, he – sort of – agrees with Biden. In an interview with PEOPLE Magazine, O’Neal said yes, Clark and all WNBA players need to make more money. But at the same time, he says it’s up to the fans to – in his words – “support” WNBA players by showing up to their games. 

Yes, O’Neal says, people are up in arms about the just-disclosed low salary the former Iowa Hawkeyes superstar will earn. Still, he says the NBA “generates a lot, a lot of money,” allowing the men’s league to create a profit-sharing deal with players. 

Shaq says the WNBA is certainly an exciting game, and fun to watch. It’s just that there hasn’t been a lot of fans coming out to the games…so teams don’t have a lot of money to pay players. “Now it’s just up to the people to support,” O’Neal says. “Now that you know about Caitlin, you know about Angel (Reese), make sure you go out and buy the jerseys, make sure you watch the game, make sure you show up at the games.”

O’Neal says the more fans that show up, the more money WNBA teams make, the more than can pay players. Shaq says adding Clark will no doubt help the game across the league. He told PEOPLE that Clark is “probably one of the best college players ever.” And that she “plays the game the right way.”

“Because of her and Angel Reese and the young lady from Stanford [Cameron Brink] and [USC star] JuJu Watkins, the women’s game has overtaken the men’s game, especially in college,” O’Neal continues. “I can’t name any exciting male NCAA player, but I can name almost all the top girls — and this is my first time ever waking up wanting to see the girls more than wanting to see the men.”

The WNBA season kicks off in just a few weeks. First game features Clark and her Indiana Fever against the Dallas Wings on Friday, May 3rd. We’ll be watching!

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