Stephen A. Smith Credit: The Stephen A. Smith Show

Stephen A. Smith has been taking a lot of flak for his commentary about Caitlin Clark, the WNBA, and women’s basketball in general for the past couple of weeks.

Often an unchecked monarch on the set of First Take, Smith has been challenged to his face by several ESPN talents, but that hasn’t stopped him from lecturing his female colleagues and claiming that he “made” them, as well as generally pushing back against any and all criticism. He’s also been a vocal critic of Team USA’s decision not to include Clark on the 2024 Olympic roster, calling it a missed marketing opportunity and recently claimed that WNBA players are “jealous” of her.

Coincidentally or not, it seems like more and more people are willing to take direct shots at Smith, and not just inside ESPN.

Tuesday morning, New York radio host Peter Rosenberg was on Hot 97’s Ebro in the Morning with Laura Stylez and Rosenberg discussing the discourse around Caitlin Clark and what it seems to represent. He then namechecked Smith as an example of someone jumping on that discourse train without actually understanding what he was talking about.

“It’s almost like Caitlin Clark has been drafted without her own choice to being the face of white fragility,” said Rosenberg, who is also a co-host on The Michael Kay Show. “People were like, ‘We want you to be all of the concerns we have about white people getting treated ‘unfairly.’ We’re going to put that on you, Caitlin Clark.’

“She’s like, ‘No, I’m just here to play basketball, whatever comes my way, I’m good with it. I’m just trying my best…Oh, I didn’t make the team? Oh, I’ll probably make it next time. That would be cool. Something to work for. Good luck to the ladies of USA Basketball.’ ‘No, Caitlin. No, no, it’s not that simple. They’re trying to hold you back, Caitlin Clark.’

“And that’s why Steven A. is catching the button, because he’s jumping in on this train of the Caitlin Clark’s not being treated fairly by the world, which is not only unfair, actually, to Caitlin Clark. Not only are you ruining it. We have something awesome, and everyone is ruining it, but you’re also being unfair to all the other women in this league who don’t deserve to be treated like props because it’s a real competitive league with people who care deeply about this. And this whole idea that if Caitlin Clark isn’t propped up the right way, then it’s not right for the sport.

“If that’s your take, maybe you don’t really care about the sport and shouldn’t be giving an opinion about it.”

Rosenberg wasn’t the first person to call out the reasons certain people defend Clark, but something about the way he did it caught Smith’s attention. The ESPN talent decided he couldn’t turn the other cheek on this one, making a special episode of The Stephen A. Smith Show Tuesday afternoon specifically to respond.

“One of the things that I’ve made a concerted effort to is just I’m not swinging at everything. I don’t need to comment about every little thing. Trust me. I don’t. I know it might seem that way to a bunch of people, but trust me with the stuff that I get thrown in my dirt, that get thrown in my direction,” said Smith. “But I’m gonna comment about this because I kind of know this person that said this sh*t about me, and I’m not letting it go because I don’t appreciate what he said. Actually, I think what he said was utter bullsh*t. And before I even get into detail about it, I want to make sure everybody sees what I’m talking about.”

Smith explains who Rosenberg is and then plays the above clip on his show before returning to begin his rebuttal.

“I said what I said about Caitlin Clark, and I’m not backing up one bit,” he said. “There is not a single player on Team USA, not a single player that deserves to be taken off because of her. Not a single player. She’s a rookie. She’s average to 16 a game. She isn’t shooting great, even though she shoots fourth and three-point range and all this other stuff.

“What I have repeatedly stated is that Caitlin Clark is box office. You’re the WNBA, and you’re women’s basketball. Across the globe. You are clamoring for support because you are clamoring for that support. And she’s box office. And that support could potentially lead to more endorsement dollars, more eyeballs for Madison Avenue, a better television contract, et cetera. Why not capitalize off of it? That is not about Caitlin Clark. That’s about the WNBA. That’s about Team USA. That’s about women’s basketball across the globe finally having somebody to utilize to ultimately help catapult them. What’s the problem?”

Smith then focuses his ire on Rosenberg, who is white, presumably accusing him of attempting to curry favor with the Black community by taking shots at Smith on a hip-hop radio station.

“Why the hell would this guy go out there and say to America, yo, Stephen A. Is propping Caitlin Clark up as a victim? What, you the white boy now that’s gravitating to Black folks? And you want to make folks believe, hey, you know something, I mean, this is the latest thing that he’s doing against y’all. Is that what this is?

“You sitting there and you on a station, they playing hip hop music, that make you down, now? You think you know what’s better than me? Is that what this is?”

Smith’s accusation that the longtime Hot 97 host and hip-hop aficionado is trying to “now” ingratiate himself with the Black community rings a bit hollow. However, Smith eventually zeroes in on his actual problem with the situation. He just wanted a phone call.

“Peter, you go on a Michael Kay’s show. Caitlin Clark’s a sports topic. You couldn’t call a brother? You couldn’t ask me yourself,” said Smith. “You couldn’t know what the hell you were talking about before you went out there and said some bullsh*t like that. Really? Really? Michael Kay would have called. Don LaGreca would have called. Brandon Tierney would have called. Host of people would have called. Adam Schein would have called. DJ Envy would have called. Charlamagne tha God would have called. Ebro would have called. Where the hell you at? You know my number. What kind of bullsh*t is that?

“You trying to gain favor with a different community? What is it? When did I sit up there and try to prop Caitlin Clark up as some victim? I’m talking about the marketing of women’s basketball across the globe. I’m making the case that marketing for women in this particular situation is more important than the merits.

“You’re not stupid, Peter. You know better. In this instance, you’re just full of sh*t. I mean, damn, man. What’s up with that? Look at what I said on First Take. Look at what I said on my podcast. You are not stupid. You are very smart. Talented, too, by the way. And I think overall, a good dude, cause you’ve always been cool with me and you’ve always been good to me. This is BS. I do not appreciate being represented that way. That is not the position I took and you damn well know it.

“Once again, I find myself in front of the microphone saying, damn, I couldn’t have gotten a call? For clarification? You couldn’t call? Couldn’t have asked me a question?”

The lesson here seems to be that, ultimately, Smith is cool with you saying whatever you want about him, just shoot him a text or make a call first.

That said, this remains a fair question.

[The Stephen A. Smith Show, Hot 97]

About Sean Keeley

Along with writing for Awful Announcing and The Comeback, Sean is the Editorial Strategy Director for Comeback Media. Previously, he created the Syracuse blog Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician and wrote 'How To Grow An Orange: The Right Way to Brainwash Your Child Into Rooting for Syracuse.' He has also written non-Syracuse-related things for SB Nation, Curbed, and other outlets. He currently lives in Seattle where he is complaining about bagels. Send tips/comments/complaints to