Feb 1, 2020; Lawrence, Kansas, USA; ESPN broadcaster Dick Vitale before the game between the Texas Tech Red Raiders and the Kansas Jayhawks at Allen Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

As Caitlin Clark’s historic college career enters what will likely be its final weeks, many have weighed in on where she ranks among the sport’s all-time greats. And while Dick Vitale didn’t reveal where he would put Clark in the pantheon of all-time greats, he did share what criteria he thinks shouldn’t be included in the discussion.

“Recently there has been debate about being the GOAT as it related to @CaitlinClark22,” Vitale posted on X (formerly Twitter). “Look I RESPECT the views of others but I do not think it is FAIR to eliminate someone that doesn’t win a championship. Championships r won by strong talented TEAMS. I always felt that WILT C & many others don’t get a fair shake. He didn’t play with a HOF roster ala the Celtics.”

While he didn’t mention him directly, it’s hard to view Vitale’s post as anything but a rebut to his ESPN colleague Jay Williams’ multiple attempts to discredit Clark’s resume by noting that she’s yet to have won a national championship.

“I’m not saying that she’s not at a high, high, high level, but for it to go to the state of immortality — in my opinion — it has to culminate with your team winning a championship,” Williams said on an episode of ESPN’s College GameDay, days after Clark had broken the women’s career scoring record.

Williams would proceed to double down before accusing his critics of race-baiting. But through it all, the former Duke star has owned the take that Clark can’t be considered great until she leads the Hawkeyes to a national championship.

To each his own, but it’s understandable why many would find this absurd. Basketball is a team game, and as great (or, in Williams’ opinion, good) as Clark is, she doesn’t play for a traditional college basketball power. In fact, many would argue that her taking Iowa to the cusp of a national title last season is a positive for her resume, even if the Hawkeyes weren’t victorious.

As Vitale pointed out, basketball’s history is littered with great players who didn’t win championships due to circumstances outside their control. That’s especially true in college, where players get few chances to win a title in a sport traditionally dominated by a few teams and coaches.

If Williams wants to consider those players “good” and not “great,” that’s his prerogative. And it’s everybody else’s — including Vitale’s — to point out the obvious flaws in his logic.

[Dick Vitale on X]

About Ben Axelrod

Ben Axelrod is a veteran of the sports media landscape, having most recently worked for NBC's Cleveland affiliate, WKYC. Prior to his time in Cleveland, he covered Ohio State football and the Big Ten for outlets including Cox Media Group, Bleacher Report, Scout and Rivals.