Caitlin Clark revs up Pacers fans with pregame playoff appearance in IndyCar replica

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Caitlin Clark crashed the NBA's playoff party Friday night — and drew a standing ovation from her new home fans. Twice.

She's hoping to do it all over again in September in the same place.

The WNBA's No. 1 overall draft pick and Division I's career scoring leader revved up a raucous Indiana Pacers crowd by pumping the accelerator of a replica IndyCar before Game 3 against the Milwaukee Bucks.

It was Clark's first public appearance on the Gainbridge Fieldhouse court since the Indiana Fever drafted her last week. Naturally, the nearly 17,000 fans broke into loud applause for the city's newest superstar.

Clark did not speak but when she joined her new Fever teammates midway through the second quarter to toss T-shirts into the stands, veteran guard Erica Wheeler did.

“Playoffs!” Wheeler told the team's emcee when asked about this season's goal. "We want to be doing this and we've got the pieces. We want it to look like this every night.”

Indiana just might make it look that way — if it makes its first playoff appearance since 2016.

But Clark's presence already has spurred a change. The Fever are already one of the WNBA's hottest tickets — as was the case during her college career at Iowa when sellouts became the norm and television ratings hit record highs.

Ticket sales in Indiana already have spiked and before she's even played a pro game, some teams including two-time defending WNBA champ Las Vegas have already moved home games to larger venues.

Clark arrived in Indianapolis last Wednesday for an introductory news conference, then returned home with her family to Iowa. She was back in town Friday night for the Pacers first home playoff game since April 21, 2019, and will stick around for the start of training camp Sunday.