ESPN's Stephen A Smith says some WNBA players jealous of Caitlin Clark, suggests race is component

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Caitlin Clark was on the receiving end of a hard foul from Chicago Sky guard Chennedy Carter during the Indiana Fever’s close win on Saturday, and it quickly became the talk of the sports world.

With Carter criticizing Clark’s game in a post on Threads, the drama bled into Monday and was the first topic of discussion on ESPN’s “First Take” with Stephen A. Smith, Monica McNutt, Shannon Sharpe and even host Molly Qerim offering their opinions on the matter.


The WNBA drama bled into Monday and was the first topic of discussion on ESPN’s “First Take” with Stephen A. Smith. (Mike Kirschbaum/NBAE via Getty Images)

Smith said he believed there were WNBA players who were jealous of the attention Clark has received since entering the league and suggested race may play a part in it.

“There are girls – young ladies – in the WNBA who are jealous of Caitlin Clark. She is a White girl that has come into the league,” Smith said. “She has bursted onto the scene. She hasn’t proven herself yet. It’s not even about them thinking they’re better than her because they probably know it at this particular juncture because they’ve been playing on a level she just arrived to.

“Where the resentment comes in is the hard work, the commitment, the dedication, the pounding of the pavement, the being on the grind all of these years trying to uplift this brand that is the WNBA and is women’s professional basketball and all of their efforts were in vain until this girl comes along and takes the league by storm, takes the sport by form in college and has accomplished in a short period of time what they haven’t been able to.

“One would think that folks would be smart enough to recognize and appreciate that about Caitlin Clark – piggyback off of that to their benefit and praise her and support her for it while competing on the court against her.”

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Caitlin Clark of the Indiana Fever defends against the New York Liberty on June 2, 2024, at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. (Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)


Smith said he wasn’t necessarily concerned with Carter’s history or even overblowing the particular play she was involved in. He wanted to put all of it into context.

“You do that to a person who is now the face of the WNBA, you know that there’s something a little extra to that. Now, in fairness to her, I’ve seen a report where it showed Caitlin Clark elbowing her first and it was retaliatory – I get that part. Let’s also remember that before she shoved, she hip-checked her from the back, from behind, she called her the B-word.… We get all of that. That’s in the heat of competition. We’re not going to overblow that.

“What we’re going to do is give the level of appreciation that it deserves in terms of the venom and potential hostility that exists toward this ‘golden girl’ who happens to be White and how the WNBA is promoting her.”

Carter’s foul was upgraded on Sunday from a common foul to a flagrant-1 violation. She didn’t receive any discipline beyond that.

She wondered on Threads what else Clark brought to the table beyond 3-point shooting after refusing to answer a question about the play.

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Indiana Fever guard Caitlin Clark reacts after scoring against the Seattle Storm, Thursday, May 30, 2024, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Doug McSchooler)


The Fever did win the game 71-70. Indiana then lost to the New York Liberty on Sunday, 104-68.

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