Caitlin Clark’s history of trash talk, explained: A timeline of Iowa star’s clashes with opponents, refs

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Caitlin Clark is the face of college basketball, and her name will hold weight in conversations regarding the best college players of all time.

She etched her name into the record books again and again and will likely remain at or near the top of those lists for decades.

For her to reach this level of play, the 22-year-old senior adopted an intense play style β€” one that has critics complaining during her 2024 NCAA Tournament run. Whether it’s showboating in front of opponents or arguing with referees, she draws eyes to her passion on the court. 

That even extends to the practice court, where Iowa coach Lisa Bluder has called technical fouls on Clark in the past to “try to help her maintain her composure at times.”

Here’s a timeline of her most intense moments on the court β€” beginning in her childhood physical education classes.

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Caitlin Clark’s most intense moments

Childhood: Clark’s kicked out of P.E. class

Clark’s intense mentality and approach toward basketball is clear when watching her play for Iowa, but it started much earlier.

In an interview with ESPN, Clark recalled being kicked out of her gym class as a child for being overly competitive.

“All I wanted to do was win,” Clark told ESPN. “No matter if it was a board game, a card game, I was going to do whatever it took to win. I got kicked out of P.E. class because I was too competitive.”

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She credited her two brothers, Colin and Blake, for adding to her competitiveness.

“It was a snow day, so we didn’t have school,” Clark told ESPN. “We were hanging out in the basement, and I literally got so mad. I think [Colin] had just scored on me … I grabbed him with two hands and launched him against the wall.”

March 2023: Clark seems to taunt Louisville with ‘You can’t see me’ gesture

Clark caught a lot of attention during last year’s Elite Eight matchup against Louisville and Hailey Van Lith.

MORE: Will Caitlin Clark go to the 2024 Olympics?

Not only did the Iowa star drop a 41-point triple-double, but she also borrowed John Cena’s “You can’t see me” gesture. She used it after her sixth made 3-pointer, and it initially seemed to be directed toward the Cardinals.

Van Lith explained in an interview with Bleacher Report’s Taylor Rooks that Clark gestured toward the Iowa strength coach, not Louisville, and the two texted and laughed about it. Still, the gesture looms large in Clark lore.

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April 2023: Angel Reese taunts Clark twice in national championship game

After besting Louisville in the Elite Eight, Clark scored another 41 points against South Carolina in the Final Four to set up a date with LSU in the national championship game.

MORE: NIL rankings in Women’s March Madness 2024

As LSU closed in on victory against Iowa, Tigers star Angel Reese pulled out the “You can’t see me” gesture and pointed to her ring finger to request a championship ring.

Reese acknowledged after the game that she was waiting for her chance to copy Clark’s earlier gesture and also said that she doesn’t “take disrespect lightly.

Clark claimed she didn’t see Reese’s gestures, as she was focused on reaching the handshake line.

“Honestly, I had no idea,” Clark said. “I was just trying to get to the handshake line and shake hands. Be grateful that my team was in that position. That’s all you can do is hold your head high and be proud of what you did. All the credit in the world to LSU. They were tremendous.”

March 2024: Clark’s dad calls out her attitude in NCAA Tournament game

Clark is ending her Iowa career at the 2024 Tournament after declaring for the WNBA Draft, so every March Madness game could be her last.

With that, her intensity has seemed to rise to the top even more. That has included some complaining to referees about calls. Against No. 16 seed Holy Cross, her dad seemed to tell her to stop from the stands.

The moment became a meme. Even Hawks announcer Bob Rathbun brought it up when Celtics star Jayson Tatum complained in an NBA game.

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