Even the most ardent fans of Caitlin Clark must admit that this WNBA season has been filled with interesting players, fledgling rivalries, and storylines. Is it hyperbolic to consider the rivalry between Indiana's Caitlin Clark and Chicago's Angel Reese as the WNBA's version of Magic and Bird? Probably, but it makes the sport more fun when you have two incredibly gifted personalities going at it on the court.

Beyond Clark and Reese, other WNBA rookies are making names for themselves early this season. One of them is Kate Martin, who is quietly having a promising rookie season with the defending champion Las Vegas Aces after the team selected her in the second round with the 18th pick. Clark and Martin played together at Iowa, and Martin's recent comments made Iowa fans' collective ears perk.

Photo Credit: Ethan Miller, Getty Images
Caitlin Clark (left) and Kate Martin. Photo Credit: Ethan Miller, Getty Images

Martin's first start for the Aces was the highlight in a surprising 96-92 loss to the Los Angeles Sparks. The former Hawkeye finished the game with 13 points, four rebounds, and three assists. But it was her comments regarding her teammate/star A'ja Wilson that somewhat overshadowed her performance on the court.

When asked about her relationship with Wilson, widely considered to be the WNBA's best player, Martin had this to say:

All my teammates have been in the league for a very long time. I'm sitting next to the best player in the world [A'ja Wilson], and not only is she the best player in the world, she's the best leader I've ever been around [....] she brings people together, and she has so much confidence in every single person on our team and that builds up our locker-room so much. For the best player in the world to tell me to 'keep shooting it' and 'stay aggressive,' I feel like I'm on top of the world... - Kate Martin, per her press conference following the Aces' loss to the Sparks

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Martin made these comments with Wilson and Aces head coach Becky Hamon present. Her calling Wilson the "best leader" she's ever been around in her basketball career led some Iowa fans (or just Caitlin Clark fans in general) to believing it was a shot at her former teammate.

When you're one of the most gifted players in your sport, the criticism will follow as swiftly as the praise. It's easy for anyone to see (especially ahead of the Aces' matchup against Clark and the Indiana Fever) that the two women are still close friends. However, what is slightly recontextualized in all of this is the dynamic of the Iowa Hawkeye women's basketball team that went to back-to-back National Championship games.

It appears that Martin was a bigger part of the engine for the Iowa Hawkeyes than for which she was given credited. Meanwhile, Clark was the superstar and dose of energy every single night. In all honesty, Clark's on-court demeanor, hyper-competitive nature, and aggressiveness reminds me a lot of the late Kobe Bryant during his days as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers.

Per MSN, Clark reportedly dealt with "anger and impatience issues," particularly at Iowa practices. Before we all go nuts at these reports, let's remember these are people in their early-20s, not to mention the weight of the world on Clark's shoulders every single game. This isn't new in sports. The only thing that's new is we haven't paid much attention to female athletes in the past.

Furthermore, Clark anchoring a struggling Indiana Fever team that is currently the second worst team in the WNBA at 3-10 is also putting the magnifying glass on the former Hawkeye star. Personally, I can multitask when it comes to sports. I can root for Caitlin Clark, Angel Reese, Kate Martin, and more while enjoying the product.

Read more about Kate Martin's comments at a recent press conference on MSN's website.

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