Ex-Lakers star speaks on truth behind NBA players attending WNBA games

Jesse Cinquini
3 Min Read
Joe Timmerman/IndyStar / USA TODAY NETWORK

Former Los Angeles Lakers star Nick Van Exel echoed the notion that NBA players attending WNBA games is nothing new, helping to set the record straight on the topic via social media.

In 2024, the WNBA has seemingly increased in popularity compared to seasons past, and Indiana Fever rookie guard Caitlin Clark arguably has had a lot to do with that. She has an uncanny knack for scoring the ball from 3-point range, which she displayed during her time playing college basketball for the University of Iowa.

Clark broke the NCAA record for 3s made in a single season during the 2023-24 campaign, her last season of college basketball. In her final year with the Hawkeyes, she averaged 5.2 made 3-pointers per game across 39 total appearances. She’s hoping to reach similar heights in the WNBA soon after an inefficient start to her pro career.

But the WNBA has plenty of interesting storylines to follow outside of Clark. The Connecticut Sun are undefeated and off to their best start in franchise history, and the Las Vegas Aces — who cruised to the WNBA title last season and lost just six games during the regular season — have already picked up two losses in six games played in the 2024 campaign.

For his part, Van Exel spent the first five seasons of his NBA career with the Lakers after the team selected him with the No. 37 overall pick back in the 1993 NBA Draft, and he enjoyed some of his most productive seasons in the pros with the iconic franchise.

He appeared in 378 total regular-season games with Los Angeles and averaged 14.9 points per game on 41.0 percent shooting from the field and 36.4 percent shooting from deep to go along with 7.3 assists and 1.0 steal per contest.

The now 52-year-old also earned the only All-Star appearance of his NBA career during his time with the Lakers, as he was selected to the game in the 1997-98 campaign. That season, he averaged 13.8 points per contest and made 38.9 percent of his 3s. He added 6.9 assists per game in 64 games played (46 starts) with Los Angeles during the regular season.

While WNBA support from NBA players has been especially noticeable this season, any notion that NBA players didn’t attend games prior is misguided.

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Jesse is an aspiring sports journalist that has previously worked as a staff writer at SB Nation’s CelticsBlog and The Knicks Wall.