Ryan Clark Nov 20, 2023; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Broadcaster Ryan Clark talks with Scott Van Pelt prior to a game between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Kansas City Chiefs at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

This weekend, staunch criticism was launched toward The Pivot Podcast. The criticism stemmed from a controversial interview the podcast held with NBA star Michael Porter Jr.

Porter Jr., a member of the reigning NBA champion Denver Nuggets, gave his thoughts on the WNBA and the pay disparities the players face. His thoughts were not only wrong, not only outdated but downright insensitive.

Following a discussion over Porter Jr.’s beliefs and how to navigate being “outspoken,” co-host and NFL legend Fred Taylor asked the Nuggets star if he was outspoken about women’s basketball and the wage disparities they faced. He also highlighted the fact that he was seen wearing the Stewie 2s, a Puma shoe line for WNBA star Breanna Stewart.

Porter Jr.’s response that followed was nonetheless dispiriting:

“Yeah, they did an interview with me. I see from both sides. I know these females want to be paid more, and they’re very talented, but so is a famous ping-pong player. They’re just as talented. The best ping-pong player is just as talented as the best basketball player, but that doesn’t mean that they get paid the same because they play ping-pong. It’s what the people want to watch, you know what I mean? So, as much as I understand females wanting the same treatment as men’s basketball players, it’s a different sport. They’re not packing out arenas. Obviously, their TV deals aren’t the same. So, as much as I advocate for women and the equality of the respect of their craft, I mean, you can’t pay him the same thing, you know? But I do feel like there should be a little way to make a little bit more money because they are very talented.”

It’s hard to find anything endearing or understanding from that quote, but let’s break it down. Porter Jr. compared women’s basketball players to ping-pong players, called women “females” (while also referring to men as “men,” how interesting), made an intellectually dishonest comparison to women “not packing arenas” for their games, and also that it’s all because “it’s what the people want to watch.”

At least he said they should make “a little bit more money.” How thoughtful.

Ryan Clark, who hosts the show, attempted to respond to Porter Jr.’s claims with a rational approach, saying the focus centers around revenue-sharing models, labor negotiations, and the percentages that play into it and the treatment they face. Channing Crowder then claimed the game “wasn’t as exciting,” which prompted Porter Jr. to tally his two cents again:

“They gotta lower the rims. I would watch a girl coming down the lane on another. They need to lower the rims.”

Looking past how absurd that thought is, it’s nonetheless sexist, implying that the women need it to be “easier” for it to be more watchable.

Not surprisingly, the interview was panned almost universally. SB Nation published an article citing the nonsense that Porter Jr. touted:

Porter is getting slammed on social media for referring to women as “females.” His point about wanting women to dunk before he starts watching is maybe his most insulting of all. Stephen Curry hasn’t dunked this season and he’s still pretty exciting. Women’s basketball is great, and it absolutely doesn’t need above-the-rim play to capture the attention it deserves.

A women’s basketball writer who goes by @asEYEsaid on X also criticized Clark and The Pivot podcast for handling the situation poorly.

Clark, who works for ESPN, took the brunt of the criticism on this weekend. In defending himself and the podcast, Clark made sure to make his thoughts clear.

The depth of that criticism extends to a much larger conversation about the treatment of Black women in sports. They have routinely had it harder, and for a league like the WNBA, which is predominantly Black, things grow in difficulty.

While that depth extends to that conversation, what’s true is this: Michael Porter Jr. was simply flat-out wrong for what he said. Any criticism directed towards him and his patronizing spiels is not only deserved but earned. Critics of The Pivot have pointed to the podcast platforming Porter Jr. to make those comments in the first place. Amid a world where women’s college basketball enjoys a surge in popularity and ratings, and women’s sports in general continue to boom – like the WNBA – the comments are awful and don’t reflect the current state of affairs.

Clark has the right to defend himself and his podcast. But sometimes, in life, deciphering right and wrong is extremely easy.

[The Pivot]

About Chris Novak

Chris Novak has been talking and writing about sports ever since he can remember. Previously, Novak wrote for and managed sites in the SB Nation network for nearly a decade from 2013-2022