WNBA, Women's Basketball

What Did Monica McNutt Say to Stephen A Smith on ESPN’s First Take? Here’s the Transcript of Her Takedown

 

When Chennedy Carter purposely knocked down Caitlin Clark during the Indiana Fever’s close 71-70 win over the Chicago Sky, it fueled the false narrative that every WNBA players resented Clark’s insane popularity, her being labeled the league’s savior and that they didn’t want Clark to succeed.

As with anything involving Clark, the incident became a national talking point. Not the NBA Finals, not the NBA Odds and Lines for the championship, not the upcoming Olympics,  but this one-off play in a WNBA game. This i what set up the fiery exchange on Monday’s First Take between ESPN analysts Stephen A. Smith and Monica McNutt.

The segment went viral for a couple of reasons: primarily due to McNutt becoming exasperated and proceeding to take down Smith. After McNutt’s impassioned comments, Stephen A. was rendered speechless — which we all know is near impossible. Here’s the video:

It also brought up the hypocrisy and condescending attitude of Smith and the male-dominated media towards women’s sports; only covering and capitalizing on it only when it was bringing in eyeballs and advertisers. If Stephen A. Smith was a true champion of women’s sports and cared about equity, he would have used his power and influence at ESPN to support the game before Caitlin Clark.

Here’s the transcript of the McNutt-Smith exchange on First Take:

Stephen A. Smith: We’re talking about them maximizing their great potential and because we bring that up and talk about what potentially might get in their way which we do to men all the time now we got to sit up here and watch every syllable. I resent that and I’ll leave it at that.

Monica McNutt: I know we got to go to break… welcome to the world of being a woman Stephen A and how you have to dance about your word choice and you have to please everybody and anybody as you navigate your being. We are talking about the world’s greatest athletes…”

Stephen A. Smith: How about being a black man?

Shannon Sharpe: Being Black… have you have you

Monica McNutt: Hold on one second  And this is what I am saying to y’all and I know we got to go to break and we didn’t necessarily go there and maybe we should. there are so many layers in this conversation around the way it’s being discussed…

Shannon Sharpe: (attempts to interject)

Monica McNutt: No no no and yes, Shannon, I know y’all are going to say “you know” and Stephen A you just shared you talked about the WNBA on your program, too. You guys may not have said, ‘Everybody,’ but the prevailing sentiment for folks that are just joining the WNBA and following women’s sports is unfair to the women of this league – to your point – who have laid the groundwork for Caitlin Clark to come in and now take it to the next level.

Monica McNutt:That’s all I am saying in these conversations. Chennedy Carter’s behavior is not indicative of the entire league. We are still talking about competition where you are allowed to get a little extra elbow in if you are competing and do it within the perimeters of the game. The game is physical. Caitlin is helping to grow the league. These women understand that but she cannot be babied as a rookie. That’s all I am at.”

Stephen A. Smith: Who talks about the WNBA who talks about womens sports more than First Take?

Monica McNutt: Stephen A., respectfully, with your platform, you could’ve been doing this three years ago if you wanted to.

(LONG PAUSE)

Stephen A. Smith: WOW….. wow wow

Molly Qerim: Alright we gotta go you guys

Monica McNutt: You know you my guy…

Stephen A. Smith: Who does more than us

Monica McNutt: Stephen A I’m talking to you.  I’m talking to you. Don’t do that. I’m t alking to you.. about the power that you have.

Shannon Sharpe: (laughs in background)

Stephen A. Smith: Ok ok

Monica McNutt: I’m talking to you…

Stephen A. Smith: ok ok I got it. I got it.

Monica McNutt: You my guy, but I’m talking to you.

Stephen A. Smith:I got it.

Molly Qerim: Guys! Guys! Guys. I really appreciate…

Stephen A. Smith: You my girl, but you missed a lot of episodes of First Take. You missed a lot

Molly Qerim: Guys…

Monica McNutt: Stephen A, three years ago you would not talk about the W at this level. Don’t do that! C’mon now!

Molly Qerim: Guys Guys Guys guys guys!

Shannon Sharpe: Nobody was Monica. You making Stephen A’s point, Monica. Monica! You making Stephen A’s point!

Molly Qerim: Please guys. Please let me do my job. Please let me do my job.  We went for 40 minutes straight. This was a riveting discussion I have to get into commercial break

Qerim finally gets to a commercial break and the video spreads like wildfire. McNutt’s comments resonates with women and people that get it while Smith’s (and Sharpe’s) rebuttals shows how much they haven’t examined the topic. Smith in particular clearly believes he’s done enough for women.

McNutt questions the sudden surge of interest in the WNBA, particularly from outlets and people that historically haven’t paid much attention to it — including Stephen A. Smith. McNutt’s critique invites us to consider the complexity and impact of media narratives.  Does sensationalizing this single incident, however egregious, serve the WNBA’s long-term? Would this incident have been covered this strongly had it been a regular-season NBA game?

Ultimately, McNutt’s argument invites us to move beyond the Carter-Clark incident and to show respect for the WNBA players who laid the groundwork.  It’s an invitation to a broader conversation about responsible and equitable sports journalism and its role in fostering the growth of women’s basketball.

The fact that Smith did a follow up interview where he claims he “made” Monica McNutt and fellow ESPN commentator Chiney Ogwumike shows that Smith didn’t learn anything from the heated conversation.

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