When I drove the two-day, one-night triangle from the Twin Cities to Dowling Catholic High School in West Des Moines, to Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City, and back home in early February 2022, it was to investigate the long-range shooting from a thin Hawkeyes sophomore named Caitlin Clark.

She had been witnessed on TV a couple days earlier making shots from Steph Curry-land as Iowa played at Michigan.

At that point, Stephen A. Smith might not have been aware of the existence of Iowa, and veteran columnist Christine Brennan might have been worked up over issues such as the Washington Spirit receiving much less tribute for their women's pro soccer title in November 2021 than did the Nationals for a World Series victory two autumns earlier.

What's amazing, with my standing as a pioneer of Caitlin Mania, is to wind up so far removed from the vehement opinions of media superstars such as Stephen A. and Brennan, and even legends of new-age irreverence like David Portnoy of Barstool Sports.

They share an outrage that it appears the U.S. Olympic women's basketball team will be winning its traditional gold medal at the Olympics this summer in Paris without Clark on the roster.

There's still a chance USA Basketball could capitulate to the crusaders for Clark if there are openings due to injury or illness, but for now, someone else must be the 11th or 12th player in coach Cheryl Reeve's rotation and come off the bench when the Yanks are leading Belgium or Japan by 40 late in the third quarter.

One reason for being 180 degrees opposite of Smith, Brennan, Portnoy and apparently tens of thousands of others on this issue is that I never considered Clark being on the Olympic team to be an issue.

Women's pro leagues came and went in the U.S. until the WNBA was formed with eight teams in 1996. The U.S. women are 7-for-7 in gold medals starting that summer in Atlanta, and there's no reason to suspect that streak will end this August — with or without Clark.

Wondrous college player. Brought huge numbers of ticket buyers to arenas and viewers to TV dens.

Which matters not, because Olympic teams should be chosen on merit and not popularity with the masses.

What a player has done in the WNBA and in international play have been drivers for an Olympic spot for several gold medals now, and Clark's collegiate domination was never going to carry over immediately to the pro game.

She has played 13 WNBA games. She's averaging 16.3 points and shooting 37%. She leads the league with 70 turnovers. She's been just OK for the Indiana Fever (3-10), the second-worst team among the league's 12.

This doesn't indicate what Clark will become as a pro. It's what she is as a newbie playing with a bad team. More people watching and buying team wear are not legitimate excuses for having Caitlin on this Olympic team.

The legend Diana Taurasi, 42 on Tuesday, still competing and about to become the first six-time Olympian. That's a good enough reason to be in Paris.

Brittney Griner, 33, back in the WNBA, capable of dominating inside when size is needed vs. Serbia or some such team, and this after spending 10 months in a Russian prison on a minor offense due to the vile Vladimir Putin … those are good enough reasons.

This is a message to the free world – that even if you have chosen not to stand for "The Star-Spangled Banner," even if you have made outrageous comments on this place of ours, efforts will be made on your behalf as a citizen.

The WNBA has benefitted greatly from Caitlin Clark in two months, filling arenas and bringing with her many fans, including many expressing spectacular naivete.

A while back, we were able to read on often-foolish social media that the WNBA was trying to hold down poor Caitlin by putting her on a bad team in the Indiana Fever. The concept of every pro league doing its best to place the highest draft choices with the previous season's patsies was lost on these Caitlin fanatics.

As for the media superstars, the guess here as to why Brennan and others are so worked up over the absence of Clark is that it could give their readers less of an appetite for chronicles from Paris.

And Stephen A. — no doubt here, he would've taken the opposite tact if Caitlin was on the original 12:

"How can this young lady from Iowa, wherever that is, be on the Olympic team when she has more turnovers than any player in the W-N-B-A? Ridiculous!''

Meantime, here's some unneeded but heartfelt advice.

Dear Caitlin: Take three weeks off during this Olympic break. Go to French Polynesia. Hit the beach. Soak in the sun. You deserve it, because you'll be in Los Angeles playing basketball in the next Olympics.