Caitlin Clark is the gif t that keeps on giving

After all the drama with LSU coach Kim Mulkey being so upset and threatening legal action over basic print journalism — some of it not even written yet — an actual game between LSU and Iowa broke out Monday.

And what a beauty it was.

Maybe it should have been for the championship and not just to advance to the Final Four of the women’s NCAA Tournament. But the game brought TV viewers by the millions to the hottest sport in the United States.

This is what women’s basketball needed. Maybe the always-feisty Mulkey, resplendent in her kelly-green pantsuit, hair shellacked into a rigid, golden globe, even enjoyed it a bit.

Iowa would surge ahead late en route to a 94-87 victory, and that certainly chilled the fiery coach.

But what a sight she watched while pacing the sideline.

Both teams had superstars doing their thing in the first half, which ended with the score tied at 45.

Iowa’s transcendent Caitlin Clark, as pale, thin and slippery as a land eel, had 19 points and five assists at the break. LSU’s 6-3 Angel Reese, with her Bayou Barbie eyelashes waving like palm fronds, had 13 points, eight rebounds and three assists after two quarters. It was a pity she fouled out in the fourth quarter, but this drama had to end for somebody.

And it wasn’t just the stats that were riveting. It was the pace of the game, continuing all the way to the final tick, and the way the game was played. That is, ferociously, skillfully and, above all, punctuated by the splendor of the long-range three-point shot.

Thank you, Ms. Clark.

She was 9-for-20 on three-pointers, finishing with 41 points, seven rebounds and 12 assists. And she would have had many more assists if her teammates were as good at shooting as she is.

The senior from West Des Moines launched shots from all over, often doing it without setting her feet properly, with a defender draped over her or after barely looking at the basket. Some of her shots were in the air for two seconds. And while the ball revolves during that time, arching without interference toward the rim, guided only by the physics of momentum and gravity and the flow of the air for 20-plus feet, everyone holds their breath.

Nobody can make one from there, you say to yourself, nobody. . . . Shazam!

The anticipation and then the reward of the ball flying neatly through the net from afar is pure magic.

Women, after all, can shoot the bomb as well as men can. Indeed, Clark’s only rival on the trey landscape — male, female, extraterrestrial — seems to be Warriors magic man Steph Curry.

The women’s game might not give us dunks, high-speed finger rolls and athletes soaring through the air like Superman. But it can give us team play. And it can give us the mystic long shot that is worth 50% more than a regular shot and mesmerizes a crowd and demoralizes an opponent like nothing else.

We only can hope Clark keeps playing for two more college games, just to marvel at a skill that can be honed but which, at its essence, is a gift from beyond. Yes, Clark spent thousands of hours shooting. That helped. But you could do that, too, and still toss up air balls and clangers forever.

It’s a gift, what Clark does, and we’re blessed to be able to watch it. It extends to her awareness on the court, to her vision, her passing skills, her touch, her footwork. Yes, little hoops girls, she should inspire you to practice this sport, to become the best you can be. But if you think you’ll do what she does just from effort, sorry.

We watched a dab of Mozart in a white jersey, a brush of Jimi Hendrix lighting his Stratocaster on fire. Nor is it like the commercial world isn’t aware of what Clark can sell to the masses.

She’s 6 feet tall, which is the equivalent of, say, a 6-4 or 6-5 man. That’s tall, but it’s still relatable to regular folks. So during timeouts and breaks, she was hawking Gatorade in ads, telling everybody out there to remember the motto ‘‘Fuel Tomorrow’’ while spinning a ball on her finger and smiling at the camera. There were the insurance ads and other stuff she sponsors, too. Such is the professionalism of ‘‘amateur’’ college ball.

None of which changes the thrill of watching poetry in motion, especially when it’s raining from the sky.

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