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Watch: Stephen A. Smith Lights Up Women's Olympic Basketball Over Caitlin Clark Snub - 'How Dare You?!'

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Oh, brother.

If you were looking for an actual analysis about Indiana Fever star rookie Caitlin Clark’s snub from the 2024 Olympics U.S. women’s basketball team, you certainly wouldn’t go to noxious ESPN personality Stephen A. Smith for it.

What you would go to Smith for, however, is incoherent screaming about a topic he knows little about — an SAS specialty, if you will — and that’s exactly what viewers got on Monday morning.

Smith, a man who somehow speaks in all caps, took to the airwaves on his ESPN show “First Take” to bloviate about Clark’s exclusion from the team, and it included a stark-raving mad rant — another SAS specialty.

“I mean, [the U.S. women’s basketball team has] won seven straight [gold medals at the Olympics],” Smith began. “‘They might not get eight, they might not get eight.’ Stop it.”

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“With or without Caitlin Clark, they’re gonna probably win the gold again,” he said.

(The U.S. women’s team has won the gold medal at every Olympics since 1996.)

OK, so — what’s the problem then?

“That’s not what this conversation is about,” Smith continued, as co-hosts Shannon Sharpe, Chiney Ogwumike and Andraya Carter looked on.

Should Clark be on Team USA?

Smith then unloaded on the decision makers who opted to leave Clark off the Olympics squad.

“This is about what I will personally label the idiocy of Team USA women’s basketball,” he said. “How dare you make this decision? It’s stupid, and I’m going to tell you why it’s stupid.”

Smith prefaced his argument by saying all of the women who made the squad were deserving of it.

“Caitlin Clark does not deserve a spot ahead of any of the players on this roster, OK, if we’re just talking basketball,” he proclaimed, sort of nullifying the entirety of his point.

Smith continued to argue, however, that Clark’s presence goes beyond basketball.

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The ESPN blowhard tried to justify that line of reasoning by bringing up former Duke Blue Devils basketball superstar (and villain) Christian Laettner making the 1992 U.S. men’s basketball team — better known to many as the “Dream Team.”

Smith argued that Laettner was not deserving of his spot on that roster, particularly over future NBA legends such as Shaquille O’Neal and Alonzo Mourning. In his eyes, Laettner made the team because of his notoriety and his skin color.

“HE WAS WHITE,” Smith eloquently said.



He appears to believe that if notoriety and skin color were all it took, Clark should have been a shoo-in for Team USA.

There’s probably some truth to that, but it can’t be understated that Laettner won two national championships in a much more crowded field. Clark, as amazing as she is and has been, doesn’t have a single college championship on her résumé.

There’s also the topic of positional need within a team — Laettner was a center, while Clark is a guard — but you wouldn’t expect Smith to dive into that sort of minutiae when he has decibel levels to hit.

The ESPN host’s arguments also gloss over the fact that Clark is hardly the best or most notorious player to be snubbed from a U.S. Olympic basketball team.

That “honor” belongs to legendary Detroit Pistons guard Isiah Thomas, who was left off that very same 1992 “Dream Team” despite being the best point guard on arguably the best team of the late ’80s.

While the true reason for Thomas’ snub has never been fully divulged, most fans agree with one of two theories:

1. Chicago Bulls legend Michael Jordan refused to play with Thomas because of the legitimate bad blood over the way Thomas’ “Bad Boy” Pistons throttled a nascent Jordan’s Bulls. The Pistons also infamously refused to shake the hands of Jordan or the Bulls when Chicago finally did beat them in the playoffs.

2. The “Bad Boy” Pistons’ collective swagger, attitude and physical play didn’t exactly endear them to the rest of the NBA. Many fans surmised that both common and petty jealousy played a role in Thomas’ snub.

Look, sports is the last true meritocracy in existence, and it is slowly and painfully eroding due to a litany of factors. Let’s not hasten its demise, shall we?

Would Clark being on Team USA have made it must-watch television? Apparently so, for many.

But that’s not how an Olympic basketball team — or any Olympic team, for that matter — is built. Complimentary skill sets and team chemistry (a potential issue given vocal Clark critic Diana Taurasi is on Team USA) take precedence over viewership.

Besides, the Olympics are the Olympics. Clark’s singular presence, as massive as it is, simply wouldn’t make or break the Olympics.

This all sounds negative against the former Iowa star, so let me end with this: Should Clark have made it to Team USA? Yeah, probably — but for actual basketball reasons.

Her numbers are just as good as, if not better than, those of veteran guards Taurasi and Jewell Loyd, both of whom are on the team (the raw statistical comparison does grossly undersell defense, which Clark has struggled with at times due to her thinner frame).

Ultimately, Clark — being the wunderkind that she is — has said all the right things about using this snub to motivate herself. She acknowledged that there’s plenty of room for improvement (her Fever sat at a paltry 3-9 going into Monday night’s road tilt against the Connecticut Sun) and offered nothing but praise for the 12 women who were selected to go to Paris.

That should hold a little more weight than what Stephen A. Smith thinks, no?


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Bryan Chai has written news and sports for The Western Journal for more than five years and has produced more than 1,300 stories. He specializes in the NBA and NFL as well as politics.
Bryan Chai has written news and sports for The Western Journal for more than five years and has produced more than 1,300 stories. He specializes in the NBA and NFL as well as politics. He graduated with a BA in Creative Writing from the University of Arizona. He is an avid fan of sports, video games, politics and debate.
Birthplace
Hawaii
Education
Class of 2010 University of Arizona. BEAR DOWN.
Location
Phoenix, Arizona
Languages Spoken
English, Korean
Topics of Expertise
Sports, Entertainment, Science/Tech




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