Earlier this week, Chicago Sky star Angel Reese made it clear that she’s sick of Caitlin Clark getting all the credit for the spike in the WNBA’s viewership. Explaining her stance, the former LSU star claimed that she deserves equal credit, yet, has received nothing. On First Take, Stephen A. Smith agreed with the sentiment completely, before explaining the potential racial angle to this whole situation.

The analyst pointed to the infamous moment in the 2023 NCAA National Championship Game, where Reese mocked Clark with her trademark celebration.

He noted that the LSU star was heavily critiqued for the action, while the Iowa sensation, who did it to her opponents first, received little to no flak at all. Smith said Reese highlighted the disparity between her and Clark’s treatment with her comments. He explained,

“Caitlin Clark is white. And because she’s white and because she is considered box office and she’s a star who happens to be white. That is why when I brought up words like envy or jealous or resentment, I didn’t say it in a negative fashion, like, ‘Oh my god, it’s a problem. I used the word justified

The veteran ESPN analyst continued further on his point, providing race-oriented context to the situation.

You know why? Because black people in this country for years have felt that level of ire. Because we have to be twice as good to get half as much.”

Smith added that African-American athletes, movie stars, and even podcasters are held to a different standard as they have to be near-perfect to receive a semblance of the credit, fame, and wealth their white counterparts would garner. The analyst then claimed Reese was making the same point with her comments.

He posed that she was highlighting that the criticism she was receiving stemmed from her going after the ‘golden goose’ and it wouldn’t have been a problem if Clark wasn’t white.

Despite wholeheartedly supporting Reese at the moment, however, Smith did initially say that she, along with the rest of the WNBA was clearly jealous of the former Iowa star.

Stephen A. Smith suggested Caitlin Clark’s fame has struck her peer’s nerves

After the Chicago Sky’s Chennedy Carter and Angel Reese were unnecessarily rough against Caitlin Clark in a game against the Indiana Fever, the duo was subjected to heavy criticism.

Their actions, and the rookie’s general treatment on the court, prompted Smith to suggest that the league’s players envied her fame. On a recent episode of First Take, he said,

“There are girls – young ladies – in the WNBA who are jealous of Caitlin Clark… 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.” 

Clark’s treatment and Reese’s comments suggest Smith is spot on about WNBA players feeling dismayed about a rookie guard getting more attention than they’ve ever received. To her credit, the Fever sensation has steered clear of this discourse and has let her game do the talking. Perhaps, the rest of the league would be better served if it followed the same course of action.