Caitlin Clark’s WNBA debut drew 2.1 million viewers across all platforms on Tuesday night, making it the most-watched WNBA game in 23 years. 

The Fever-Sun matchup was the most-watched WNBA game ever broadcast on ESPN. The network's previous record was set in 2004, when Diana Taurasi’s Phoenix Mercury debut drew 1.43 million viewers.

The game between Indiana and Connecticut was also the most-watched WNBA game since an NBC broadcast of the Los Angeles Sparks and Houston Comets brought in 2.45 million viewers on Memorial Day in 2001. 

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Clark had a team-leading 20 points on the night, but also a WNBA-record 10 turnovers. She finished 5-for-15 from the field.

"She's a rookie," Fever coach Christie Sides said after the game. "This is the best league in the world. We've got to teach her. We've got to teach her what these games are going to look like for her every single night. And we've got to eliminate some of that pressure for her, and that's on me."

The former Iowa star is used to the pressure, and has routinely broken viewership records throughout her career. There was hope that her presence would grow the WNBA fanbase after Iowa and South Carolina's 2024 NCAA championship clash brought in a record 18.7 million viewers. 

In April, Clark — alongside a star-studded rookie class — headlined the most-watched WNBA draft in history with 2.45 million viewers.

Caitlin Clark is taking some lessons away from her real first taste of WNBA regular season action

Clark walked away from the Indiana Fever’s 71-92 loss to Connecticut with a team-high 20 points — but she also committed 10 turnovers, the most in a career debut in WNBA history. It took her until well into the fifth minute of the second quarter to score as she adjusted to the Sun’s defense.

"I'm disappointed, and nobody likes to lose, but I don't think you can beat yourself up too much about one game," Clark said after the game. "I don't think that's going to help this team.

"Just learn from it and move on," she added.

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It was Clark’s "Welcome to the W" moment, as many veterans alluded to prior to her debut. Clark admitted that the game was "physical," and that she’s growing to expect that more than she did in college.

"Just expecting physicality was the biggest thing,” she said. "I think also just like some uncharacteristic stuff. Like, I pick up the ball and travel, I dribble off my foot, I pass it on the inbound, I turn it over. So just a few things that are just — you have to be crisper.

"I thought it took me a little while to settle into the game. I felt the second half was a lot better... but just getting more comfortable... that's just going to come with experience." 

Even still, Clark finished with 20 points — a solid debut for a rookie despite the turnovers. As for Indiana, Fever coach Christie Sides was critical of her team after the loss. NaLyssa Smith was the only other player in double-digits.

"They punched us in the mouth tonight," Sides said, before offering a more stout analysis.

"We got to have people coming back to the ball and then attacking getting in the paint," she continued. "We just weren't able to get down to yield tonight at all. If we could have gotten our feet in the paint and collapsed their defense, we would have been able to, you know, get some of our shooters. We just didn't get that."

The 2024 WNBA season got off to a hot start on Tuesday, seeming to pick up right where it left off last year. 

Las Vegas got a win, Alyssa Thomas got a triple-double, and Caitlin Clark had her "Welcome to the W" moment. 

The performance from Thomas — 13 points, 10 rebounds, 13 assists — continued a trend she started a year ago, when she posted up seven triple-doubles in a single season to bring her career total to 11. A finalist for league MVP last season, she dropped her name into the early MVP conversation last night.

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"I think people thought it was a fluke to put up those kinds of numbers [last year]," Thomas said after the game. "It was unheard of. But this is my game. This is how I play each and every night. Pretty much every game last season, I flirted with a triple-double."

DeWanna Bonner made her own history on Tuesday, passing Candice Dupree for fifth on the WNBA all-time career scoring list. Sun guards Ty Harris and DiJonai Carrington also emerged as game standouts, the latter of whom spent the majority of the night guarding Clark — and locked her down in the process.

Clark’s first official game was filled with highs and lows as she put up a team-high 20 points but also committed a WNBA-record 10 turnovers in her debut. 

Another finalist for league MVP last year, A’ja Wilson put up big numbers in her first game of the season with 30 points and 13 rebounds. 17 of those points came within nine minutes of one another. 

While the lead flip-flipped a bit throughout the four quarters, the defending champions ended up beating Phoenix 89-80. 

In DC, the Liberty held off Washington 85-80 behind a 25-point performance from Jonquel Jones. Reigning league MVP Breanna Stewart notched eight points and eight rebounds in her first outing of 2024.

Minnesota, meanwhile, got their season off to a winning start thanks to a 20-point, 12-rebound performance from Napheesa Collier and a 22-point performance from Alanna Smith. Nneka Ogwumike had 20 points and nine rebounds in her first official game in a Storm jersey.

Next up: The Dallas Wings square off with Angel Reese and the Chicago Sky at 8 PM ET, followed by the Los Angeles Sparks and Atlanta Dream at 10 PM ET. Both will be available to stream on WNBA League Pass.

The WNBA 28th season officially begins on Tuesday, May 14th.

A four-game doubleheader is set to kick things off on opening day, with a sold-out matchup featuring Caitlin Clark’s regular season debut with the Indiana Fever leading the charge. A'ja Wilson and the reigning champion Las Vegas Aces will also be in action, going up against the Phoenix Mercury at 10 PM ET in the evening's second act. 

First up are the New York Liberty and Washington Mystics, with 2023 league MVP Breanna Stewart hoping to once again guide her team back to the WNBA Finals. Last year, Stewart led the team in scoring with 23.1 points per game, while the Liberty notched a league-best 11.1 three-pointers per game last season. 

For their part, the Mystics find themselves without longtime forward Elena Delle Donne this season. Rookie Aaliyah Edwards will attempt to fill the void, being one to watch as Washington looks to turn the page on its next chapter.

At 7:30 PM ET, the Fever face the perennially dangerous Connecticut Sun. Indiana is coming off their best season since 2019, finishing the year 13 and 27 overall. Armed with 2024's No. 1 draft pick, they're now looking to make their first playoffs appearance since 2016. This could be one of the first true tests for the much-hyped Caitlin Clark, as the rookie squares off with Sun starter DeWanna Bonner.

The 10 PM ET bill keeps things going with the 2024 WNBA title-winning Aces hosting the Mercury at Michelob ULTRA Arena in Las Vegas. Despite losing superstar Candace Parker to retirement in April, the Aces' roster remains stacked with household names Sydney Colson, Kelsey Plum, and Kiah Stokes complementing rookie Kate Martin and two-time league MVP Wilson. They'll need to harness some of that 2023 champion chemistry on the court if they want to one-up a veteran-heavy Phoenix squad.

Rounding out the night is a Seattle team headlined by offseason additions Nneka Ogwumike and Skylar Diggins-Smith plus 2024 draft pick, UConn alum Nika Mühl. Paired up with team stalwart Jewell Loyd, the powerful arrangement could make for a sneaky sleeper pick for the WNBA Finals. Minnesota, meanwhile, won both of its preseason games, with 2024 draftee Alissa Pili putting up some solid performances under the basket. Pili, alongside Napheesa Collier and Diamond Miller, could form a tough defensive wall capable of silencing even the most offensively gifted opponents.

Tuesday, May 14th:

Wednesday, May 15th:

Tiffany Hayes is retiring from the WNBA, she announced on a new episode of the “Counted Me Out” podcast. But the 2017 All-Star still plans to play in international leagues.

“You could still catch me overseas,” Hayes said. “I just figured I’d focus on one thing and then summer time I could turn up my business. I could turn up life with my family and just live life like that.”

The 2023 WNBA season ran from May through September, while most international leagues operate on the opposite seasonal schedule, running from the fall through the spring. Hayes is playing for Shanghai in the Chinese Women’s Basketball Association this offseason.

“I don’t want to play two seasons anymore. I’m really at a crossroads right now. Which one do I play?” Hayes told The Athletic while playing in Turkey last offseason.

After playing 10 seasons with the Atlanta Dream, the 34-year-old guard signed a one-year deal with the Connecticut Sun in 2023. She averaged 12.1 points, 3.0 rebounds and 2.6 assists.

“It’s a lot of things,” Hayes said about her decision to step away from the WNBA. “I really feel like I’m older now. I got a lot of stuff that I really always want to get into but I’m so busy ’cause I’m playing year-round. Plus, my body, playing 11 seasons straight with no breaks, every year, two seasons in a year every time, that’s a lot.”

Hayes won two NCAA championships with UConn in 2009 and 2010, then became the No. 14 pick in the 2012 WNBA Draft. Hayes made her only All-Star appearance in 2017, and she was named to the All-WNBA First Team in 2018.

NBA star Kawhi Leonard is picking up what WNBA players are putting down.

The Los Angeles Clippers forward has incorporated the step-through move, which involves legally picking up the pivot foot and stepping around a defender to drive to the basket, into his game. When asked about the move, Leonard said he first noticed the move in the WNBA.

“A lot of WNBA players do it. I thought it was just a WNBA rule at first, but I realized that you could pick up that back foot,” he said.

DeWanna Bonner, one of the leading scorers for the Connecticut Sun, has made it her signature move.

A’ja Wilson also used the deceptive move effectively for the Las Vegas Aces during the WNBA Finals against the New York Liberty.

The Las Vegas Aces clinched a second consecutive title, winning the battle of the superteams against the New York Liberty in the 2023 WNBA Finals.

The defending WNBA champions, the Aces locked down the No. 1 seed in the playoffs for the second consecutive season. They dominated the Chicago Sky in the first round, then swept the Dallas Wings in the semifinals. The Liberty defeated the Washington Mystics and then the Connecticut Sun to reach the championship series.

The Aces became the first team to win back-to-back titles since the Los Angeles Sparks in 2001 and 2002. The Liberty failed to disrupt their plans, despite entering the playoffs with a 3-2 advantage in the season series against Las Vegas. Both teams entered the playoffs as clear favorites to reach the Finals.

Just Women’s Sports has the full breakdown of the bracket, schedule and results from the Aces’ title run.

2023 WNBA playoffs: Full results

First round

  • (1) Las Vegas Aces eliminated (8) Chicago Sky, 2-0
    • Game 1: Aces 87, Sky 59
    • Game 2: Aces 92, Sky 70
  • (2) New York Liberty eliminated (7) Washington Mystics, 2-0
    • Game 1: Liberty 90, Mystics 75
    • Game 2: Liberty 90, Mystics 85 (OT)
  • (3) Connecticut Sun eliminated (6) Minnesota Lynx, 2-1
    • Game 1: Sun 90, Lynx 60
    • Game 2: Sun 75, Lynx 82
    • Game 3: Sun 90, Lynx 75
  • (4) Dallas Wings eliminated (5) Atlanta Dream, 2-0
    • Game 1: Wings 94, Dream 82
    • Game 2: Wings 101, Dream 74

Semifinals

  • (1) Las Vegas Aces eliminated (4) Dallas Wings, 3-0
    • Game 1: Aces 97, Wings 83
    • Game 2: Aces 91, Wings 84
    • Game 3: Aces 64, Wings 61
  • (2) New York Liberty eliminated (3) Connecticut Sun, 3-1
    • Game 1: Sun 78, Liberty 63
    • Game 2: Liberty 84, Sun 77
    • Game 3: Liberty 92, Sun 81
    • Game 4: Liberty 87, Sun 84

Finals

  • (1) Las Vegas Aces lead (2) New York Liberty, 2-1
    • Game 1: Aces 99, Liberty 82
    • Game 2: Aces 104, Liberty 76
    • Game 3: Liberty 87, Aces 73
    • Game 4: Aces 70, Liberty 69

Natisha Hiedeman is backing up her comments on WNBA referees, even after receiving a fine from the league.

After the Connecticut Sun’s series loss to the New York Liberty in the 2023 WNBA playoffs, Hiedeman took to social media, where she called out the officiating throughout the season.

“Now that we don’t got no more checks coming in the refs have been terrible from both sides…not even in this series but the whole season,” she wrote. “Ppl gon get hurt. I hope for the finals it can just be FAIR!!”

As it turns out, there was still one more paycheck the WNBA could draw from: Her playoff bonus. Players on teams eliminated in the semifinal round are set to receive merit bonuses of $3,123 each.

On Tuesday, Hiedeman posted a screenshot of a text message thread indicating that she would be getting a fine from the WNBA for her comments on the referees. She included a tongue-in-cheek response on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, writing: “Now that I’ve had time to think about it the officials are actually doing a great job.”

In the text message thread, though, she stood by her comments, writing: “It needed to be said.”

Hiedeman isn’t the first person to receive a fine from the WNBA for comments about officiating, with a number of players and coaches having called out referees throughout the season.

The drama surrounding WNBA officiating has extended into the 2023 playoffs.

Connecticut Sun guard Natisha Hiedeman sounded off on the referees after her team’s elimination at the hands of the New York Liberty in Game 4 of the WNBA semifinals.

“Now that we don’t got no more checks coming in the refs have been terrible from both sides…not even in this series but the whole season,” she wrote on social media. “Ppl gon get hurt. I hope for the finals it can just be FAIR!!”

During Sunday’s Game 4, referees called 23 personal fouls on the Sun and 11 on the Liberty.

All season long, players and coaches have called out the league’s officiating. Dallas Wings star Arike Ogunbowale questioned the referees after receiving her second ejection of the season in August, and Washington Mystics stars Elena Delle Donne and Natasha Cloud also have made their voices heard.

“I don’t care what pipeline refs we have coming through. I don’t care,” Cloud said in July. “We have to do our job every single night. You need to do yours. This is bull—t. This is f–king bull–t.”

Las Vegas Aces head coach Becky Hammon tweeted out side-by-side images of instances from Sunday’s Liberty-Sun contest in which fouls were not called on offensive players. They were accompanied by a quote of analyst Rebecca Lobo speaking during broadcast about the officiating.

“If you are a player, note to self, you can run over someone in the post with your physicality, if you are the offensive player,” Lobo said, “and you’re not going to get the foul called.”

The New York Liberty have advanced to their first WNBA Finals since 2002, where they will go up against their superteam rival in the Las Vegas Aces.

With the 87-84 win over the Connecticut Sun in Game 4 of the WNBA semifinals, the Liberty clinched a 3-1 series victory. Three of their starters scored 20 points or more to lead New York: Breanna Stewart (27), Jonquel Jones (25) and Betnijah Laney (21).

While the Liberty have four previous WNBA Finals appearances, the last one came in 2002. New York is one of the WNBA’s eight founding franchises, but it has never won a championship.

From the start of the 2023 season, though, the Liberty and the defending champion Aces were the betting favorites to compete in the Finals. Heading into the postseason, FanDuel set -210 odds for a battle of the superteams, followed by +500 for an Aces-Sun meeting.

New York transformed into a contender with a blockbuster offseason, headlined by the signing of the premier free agent in Stewart and the trade for 2021 MVP Jones. Jones finished Sunday’s win with a double-double, posting 15 rebounds in addition to her 25 points. She also had four blocks, including an emphatic stop of Connecticut’s DeWanna Bonner in the final seconds of the first half.

Yet while the Liberty won the day (and the series), Sun forward Alyssa Thomas turned in the most memorable performance.

The 31-year-old star collided with Jones in the fourth quarter, and then she remained on the ground, grimacing in pain. But after spending several minutes in the locker room, she returned to complete the 11th triple-double of her career.

Thomas finished with a team-high 17 points, 15 rebounds and 11 assists. She leads the WNBA in career triple-doubles; no other player has more than three. She also has a record three postseason triple-doubles, after recording two in the 2022 WNBA Finals. All other players in league history have combined for two.

The New York Liberty and Las Vegas Aces will start the WNBA Finals next Sunday, Oct. 8, with Game 1 set for a 3 p.m. ET tip-off on ABC.