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Four Aces picked for Team USA while Clark is rightfully left off

Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY
The Sporting Tribune's Will Despart explains why the Aces' four core members made the US Olympic team over Caitlin Clark.

Saturday morning, the United States Olympic women’s basketball roster was revealed by various sources. This roster includes Las Vegas Aces stars A’ja Wilson, Jackie Young, Chelsea Gray, and Kelsey Plum. All of whom have rightfully earned their spot among the 12 American women’s basketball players who will be representing the country. 

It will be the second trip to the Olympics as national team members for Wilson and Gray, who were gold medal winners in 2021. Young and Plum were gold medalists for the United States’ 3×3 team, but will be making their debut on the big 5×5 stage in the Olympics for the first time in August.

Over who? 

The larger narrative around the roster was centered around the exclusion of Caitlin Clark, which of course brought the entirety of White America out to her defense. As controversial as Clark’s fans and supporters in the media will make this out to be, it really isn’t. At all.

Even if you want to argue that a player like 42-year-old Diana Taurasi doesn’t bring as much skill to the team as Clark does at this point in her career, Taurasi is the greatest and arguably most respected national team representative in the history of United States Women’s basketball. Not to mention being the unquestioned leader of the last five Olympic gold medal winning teams. 

She deserves her Olympic swan song far more than Clark deserves to be on the team because of prospective television ratings, and it’s frankly absurd to suggest that these plans made years in advance should be altered because of Clark’s emergence. 

And for those out there arguing that Clark deserved Chelsea Gray’s roster spot, don’t even start. The clearest indicator of someone who just started watching the league is ignorant commentary around Gray, who is the consensus best point guard in the league and one of the game’s premier crunch-time performers. 

Sure, some of these arguments have simply come about just because Gray has been out with an injury for the first part of the season. That’s not expected to be an issue moving forward as Becky Hammon said Gray will be returning for the Aces before the Olympic break. 

So, good luck telling the league’s best point guard she doesn’t deserve her spot over a rookie. Especially one who is less than a week removed from a 1-of-10 shooting performance, in the same league where Gray put on a legendary championship winning performance less than two calendar years ago.

A deeper league

As great as Caitlin Clark and this rookie class is, it should also be considered that this is by far the deepest talent pool in the WNBA’s history and in the global women’s game at large.  

That’s evidenced by the actual biggest snub from the roster, which is Dallas Wings star and MVP candidate Arike Ogunbowale. Ogunbowale is a three-time all star who is second in the league in scoring, trailing only A’ja Wilson. 

The fact that sportswriters, who claim to have been following this league for years upon years, are calling this snub out with far less frequency is telling. It all amounts to further proof that the most sinister narratives in the lack of WNBA coverage by sports media’s “old guard” were likely true this entire time. And you know what I’m getting at. 

And yes, players like Taurasi and Candace Parker have made the Olympic team as rookies in the past, but they were also beneficiaries of entering an Olympic talent pool that wasn’t nearly as deep as the one in 2024 is. Had Clark been vying for a spot on one of those teams, the story may have been different. But it’s not. 

It will all be okay 

To Clark’s supporters and new women’s basketball fans out there today who are upset by her exclusion, take a deep breath and relax. She is doing just fine (you don’t need me to convince you of that anyway), and this season is playing out how most of us who have been following this league for years thought it would. She is displaying the flashes of brilliance she became a household name for, but is struggling just as much as her team is 3-9 amidst a handful of lackluster performances from the rookie. 

Clark will likely play on four, if not five Olympic teams in her career if she plays basketball into her late thirties. And as much as her fanbase suggests she should tell the WNBA to hell with themselves, she is far too fiery a competitor to ever consider the cowardice nonsense that her fanbase has taken up for her. 

What makes any of you think that Clark would even want to be given a roster spot over a player like Plum, who she openly idolizes, without having the necessary basketball acumen to justify it? She’s a dawg, and she’ll prove it over the next decade-plus. 

Probably in the 2028 Olympics. Where it will actually be deserved this time.