“I can’t name any exciting male NCAA player, but I can name almost all the top girls,” Shaquille O’Neal tells PEOPLE about supporting the WNBA

Shaq and Caitlin Clark

Shaq and Caitlin Clark. Photo:Arturo Holmes/Getty; Maddie Meyer/Getty

Shaquille O’Neal agrees that Caitlin Clark and all WNBA players need to make higher salaries — but he’s telling fans that they need to “support” the players by showing up to make that happen.

When chatting with PEOPLE about his latest partnership with JCPenney, the basketball icon acknowledged that “people are in arms” about the headline-making salary the WNBA star is expected to make since being drafted into the league.

Clark, the NCAA Division I all-time leading scorer in both men’s and women’s basketball, was selected No. 1 overall by the Indiana Fever at Monday night’s WNBA Draft in Brooklyn. She will reportedly make $338,056 in her first four years in the league.

Sports critics, including President Joe Biden, have stated that Clark is not receiving the proper salary. “Women in sports continue to push new boundaries and inspire us all. But right now we’re seeing that even if you’re the best, women are not paid their fair share,” Biden wrote in part on X.

President Joe Biden Comments on Caitlin Clark’s WNBA Salary, Says ‘Women Are Not Paid Their Fair Share’ 

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 15: Caitlin Clark poses with WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert after being selected first overall pick by the Indiana Fever during the 2024 WNBA Draft at Brooklyn Academy of Music on April 15, 2024 in New York City.

Caitlin Clark at the WNBA Draft 2024.Sarah Stier/Getty

Spotrac later broke down her earnings by year, reporting that the former Iowa Hawkeye basketball player will make $76,535 in the first year of her contract, $78,066 in her second, then $85,873 in her third year and $97,582 in 2027, her fourth year in the league.

In comparison, Victor Wembanyama — the first overall pick in the 2023 NBA draft — is expected to earn $55.7 million in his first four years in the men’s professional basketball league, according to Forbes.

O’Neal recognizes that “the difference between the women’s game and the men’s game” is that the NBA “generates a lot, a lot of money,” telling PEOPLE that it allows them to “profit and share” with the players.

“WNBA was already very exciting,” he adds. However, despite the increased excitement players like Clark and former LSU Tiger Angel Reese — who was selected by the Chicago Sky with the seventh pick in the draft — will bring to the WNBA, O’Neal noted that fans have to uphold their part too in an effort to minimize the wage gap.

Iowa’s Kate Martin Went to WNBA Draft to Support Caitlin Clark — and Then Got Drafted Herself: ‘A Lot of Emotions Right Now’

Shaquille O’Neal.

“Now it’s just up to the people to support,” O’Neal says. “Now that you know about Caitlin, you know about Angel, make sure you go out and buy the jerseys, make sure you watch the game, make sure you show up at the games.”

He stresses, “It’s time to really super support these women because the more money [the WNBA] makes, the more money they will make.”

The salary disparity is even more shocking given the star power of the WNBA draft class, O’Neal tells PEOPLE, saying that Clark is “probably one of the best college players ever.” Not only does he recognize that she “plays the game the right way,” but he says she “doesn’t disrespect” it and only “elevates the game.”

Caitlin Clark Swaps Heels for Uggs at WNBA Draft Like the Relatable Queen She Is

LSU's Angel Reese Responds to Critics, Taunts Iowa's Caitlin Clark with Her Own Hand Motion

Angel Reese and Caitlin Clark. Ben Solomon/NCAA Photos via Getty

“Because of her and Angel Reese and the young lady from Stanford [Cameron Brink] and [USC star] JuJu Watkins, the women’s game has overtaken the men’s game, especially in college,” O’Neal continues. “I can’t name any exciting male NCAA player, but I can name almost all the top girls — and this is my first time ever waking up wanting to see the girls more than wanting to see the men.”

In addition to championing the support of the WNBA and its players, O’Neal is teaming up with JC Penney to help share how Rewards Members “can get more, earn more and save more” during the store’s More, More, More Event.

“Last time I made a three-pointer was about 30 years ago,” admits O’Neal. Now, members can try their luck at their local JCPenney to earn additional savings from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. local time on May 4 — and post on social for a chance to hang with the NBA legend, too!