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Stephen A. Smith goes on Trump-invoked monologue about Caitlin Clark: ‘The times we’re living in’

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Indiana Fever rookie sensation Caitlin Clark earlier this week said she doesn’t pay attention to her name being used in “culture wars.”

The No. 1 overall pick from Iowa says she’s focused on basketball, which got pushback from members of the media as well as Connecticut Sun player DiJonai Carrington.

Clark then said it was “unacceptable” for anyone to use her name to “push those agendas.”

But reasons for her popularity continue to be discussed, and nothing changed on Friday, when ESPN sports analyst Stephen A. Smith went on a nearly five-minute monologue about Clark, noting that race plays a role in many of the discussions about her.

“There’s a broader issue here that can’t be escaped, and that is this: She is a White young lady. And she’s been a magnet in a way that has benefitted the league in ways that others have not, even though their efforts have been worthy and deserving of being as celebrated, if not even more celebrated,” Smith said on Friday’s “First Take.”

“And it’s a reminder that no matter how far we believe that we have advanced as a society, there’s still such a long way to go. Because in the end, if you’re White, you’re bright, you’re right, and as a result, the shine comes your way in the eyes of a lot of people in America.”

Smith then, not by name, mentioned former President Trump’s “claim to fame.”

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“‘Make America Great Again.’ What have people interpreted that to mean? ‘Make America White Again…’ What has that led to? A divide,” Smith continued. “It is not a divide that is created. It is a divide that’s illuminated because it’s highlighting and showing that it’s been in existence all along. It hasn’t gone anywhere.”

Smith said he understood where Carrington was coming from, but also doesn’t hold Clark “accountable for that.”

“But what Caitlin Clark has to understand is it’s not really you personally. It’s you the figure, it’s you, the prop, per se, that is being utilized to address a bigger point,” Smith said.

“The fact that she is a young White lady, and the world has gravitated to her the way that they have in a way they have done for no one else in the 28-year history of the WNBA… it’s just further evidence of the times that we’re living in, but most importantly, the times that we’ve been living in and the progress that reportedly has been made, although it has existed in some degree, doesn’t negate the fact that we can’t gloss over the reality of what we’re exposed to every single day… There’s still a lot of work to be done, because things haven’t changed as much as we’d like to believe, period.”

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Clark said she was “unbothered” by such conversations.

“It’s not something I can control. I don’t put too much thought and time into thinking about things like that. To be honest, I don’t see a lot of it,” Clark said Thursday. 

“Like I’ve said, basketball’s my job. Everything on the outside, I can’t control that, so I’m not going to spend time thinking about that. People can talk about what they want to talk about, create conversations about whatever it is, but I think for myself, I’m just here to play basketball. I’m here to have fun. I’m here to help my team win. We’ve won three games, feel like we’ve been in a position to win a few more than that. My focus is on helping us do that. I don’t pay much mind to all of that, to be honest.”

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