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WNBA

Only One Person Can Save Us From Terrible WNBA Takes

Elizabeth Cambage of Sichuan reacts during Game 5 of the Women's Chinese Basketball Association WCBA league Finals between Sichuan and Inner Mongolia in Hohhot, north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, April 22, 2024.
Lian Zhen/Xinhua via Getty Images

Every so often these days, I must remind myself that the WNBA is not about me. Sure, I preferred the days when I could cover the league in peace—a dozen comments on my blogs, six of them riffing on the same pun. But generally I am glad that more people are following a league I've loved since I was a child. I consider the downstream effects of the WNBA’s increasing popularity, and figure that they could help me. If more people watch, the games might appear at more convenient times and on easier-to-find channels, the Xs-and-Os coverage will improve and make me smarter, and I’ll have some more options when I want to talk about Natasha Cloud with a friend. Win-win-win! 

And then Monday morning, all of sports media reared up to deliver takes on Chennedy Carter's flagrant foul against Caitlin Clark, and I watched Stephen A. Smith throw a little tantrum at a challenge to his women's sports champion credentials:

A short time later, I sat through ESPN host Pat McAfee's 11-minute PowerPoint presentation, the thesis of which remains entirely unclear to me, but which culminates in him describing Clark as “one white bitch for the Indiana team”:

And then, not long after McAfee tweeted, “I shouldn’t have used ‘white bitch’ as a descriptor of Caitlin Clark [...] I have way too much respect for her and women to put that into the universe,” the Chicago Tribune editorial board likened the flagrant foul to assault in a piece that in some instances struck me as an “assault” on the English language and was immediately disavowed by the Tribune's own Sky beat writer:

The foul committed by Chicago Sky guard Chennedy Carter was egregious. Outside of a sporting contest, it would have been seen as an assault. Even within a sporting context, it was bad: before the ball even was inbounded, Carter came up from behind Clark, shoving her at the hip and knocking her over. Lip readers simultaneously construed a five-letter epithet dancing on the Sky player’s lips. She should have been ejected from the game.

Chicago Tribune Editorial Board

Now, I have a different take: Bring back Liz Cambage. The only way out of this is through, and it's time for the WNBA to resurrect its most inflammatory character. Shake her awake from her Chinese league coma. Give a WNBA GM amnesia so they forget every fact of her career except her height. Some team, any team, draft her long-lost “twin.”

We can try to put out the WNBA's raging fire via well-reasoned takes and good-faith discussion, or we could add so much fuel to it that it swallows up the Earth and me and you entirely, and that is what I am proposing. Sign Cambage to be the Fever's enforcer so she can insist Caitlin Clark is under attack for being straight while her teammate frantically does that “cut it out” throat-slitting hand gesture next to her on the postgame press conference podium. Let her loose on First Take to make up weird and self-contradicting lies about Angel Reese. At the very least, she can join Pat McAfee's production team and help him make more slideshows. I don’t care. Just get her involved. She was ahead of her time. She would put an end to all of this. 

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