Charles Barkley says WNBA players are being 'petty' over attention paid to Caitlin Clark

Basketball Hall of Famer Charles Barkley is defending Indiana Fever rookie Caitlin Clark.

Ahead of Game 1 of the Western Conference finals between the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday night, Barkley called out the "petty" critics of Clark among the WNBA.

"You woman out there, y'all petty, man... Y'all should be thanking (Caitlin Clark) for getting y'all (expletive) private charters," Barkley said during TNT's "Inside the NBA" broadcast, highlighting "all the money and visibility she's bringing to the WNBA."

It's not clear who Barkley is referencing, but the broadcaster did mention comments from Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James, who denounced the "animosity and hatred" directed toward Clark and his son Bronny James during an appearance on his "Mind the Game" podcast on Wednesday.

'ROOTING FOR CAITLIN CLARK': NBA superstar LeBron James voices support for Caitlin Clark

"Don't get it twisted, don't get it (expletive) up. Caitlin Clark is the reason a lot of great things are going to happen for the WNBA," James said. "There’s a very small number of men and women that actually get to live out their dream of playing the professional sport. And we have grown (expletive) men and women out here doing whatever they can to try to make sure that does not happen. That’s the weirdest thing in the world."

Later Wednesday, Barkley said James is "100% right on these girls hating on Caitlin Clark." He added, "What she's accomplished, give her her flowers... Caitlin Clark, thank you for bring all that money and shine to the WNBA."

Clark, the NCAA's all-time leading scorer, was drafted out of Iowa by the Indiana Fever with the No. 1 overall pick in April and the popularity surrounding Clark has trickled down to the entire WNBA. Clark's regular-season debut, for example, drew an average audience of 2.13 million viewers to become the most watched WNBA game in almost 23 years.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Charles Barkley calls out Caitlin Clark critics: 'Give her flowers'