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Elle Duncan Calls Out Charles Barkley, LeBron James

“It’s not okay, and it’s not Caitlin Clark’s fault.”

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Elle Duncan

The WNBA continues to find itself on a growth trajectory with augmented interest in the league and its players. Indiana Fever guard and first-overall draft selection Caitlin Clark has helped the league attain record audiences for early games. Clark is believed to be one of the catalysts for league growth and has led several commentators to express their opinions on the WNBA. TNT Sports analyst Charles Barkley in particular called out other WNBA athletes to implore them to be thankful for Clark instead of petty towards her. The commentary, however, is something that was addressed by ESPN host Elle Duncan this week during an appearance on The Right Time with Bomani Jones.

Duncan, who covers the WNBA as both a SportsCenter anchor and host of WNBA Countdown, explained to Jones that women in the league have sacrificed throughout their whole careers to allow the next group of players to have better conditions. Clark is among the latter cohort and is widely extolled by her peers and fans. The characterization Barkley insinuated though was something that ostensibly misrepresented those in the league. Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James attributed Clark as a reason behind growth in the WNBA during last week’s episode of Mind the Game with JJ Redick.

“That’s all they do is fight for the next generation – to have more visibility; to have these platforms and these stages – and for you to paint them as just some old, jealous women, it’s bullsh**,” Duncan said. “It’s not okay, and it’s not Caitlin Clark’s fault. It’s everyone else that’s othering her – it’s the so-called fans that are making her the other.”

Duncan explained that Clark just wants to play and that she is able to take care of herself. Moreover, she expressed that she is tired of hearing men discuss the game when they cannot grasp and delineate any of the storylines going on in the league. Duncan also mentioned earlier in the conversation that she believes the coverage surrounding Clark on ESPN is apropos and elucidated on the process to determine what merits discussion.

“We don’t make these decisions in a vacuum, guys,” Duncan said. “You can get mad at me all we want because we’re rehashing Cowboys talk. We literally have metrics that show that when you talk about the Cowboys, you watch, and when we talk about something else, you turn, and that’s how these things are guided. So people watch Caitlin Clark, they love Caitlin Clark. It’s true — I think she is getting the appropriate amount of coverage, and it’s deserved”

Within her discourse, Duncan tried to adumbrate the parallels between the WNBA and other professional sports leagues. An agitating part of the issue is in having people who are more unfamiliar with the league delivering commentaries and opinions just to have their voices as part of the conversation. Duncan, along with her colleagues Chiney Ogwumike and Andraya Carter, have all been covering the WNBA for several years and receive plaudits as an informed and entertaining studio program.

“This is not specific to Caitlin Clark,” Duncan said. “You’re just new in this space, and so while you’re new before you put your f***ing feet on my couch, look around. Get the lay of the land; get to know it a little bit before you just jump in and continue to fan flames of divisiveness that frankly target Black and brown women. It’s not okay.”

Jones replied by hypothesizing the chance that women in the league are jealous of Clark, something he perceives not to be a bad thing if that is the case. In fact, he recalled the perceived freezing of Michael Jordan out of the 1985 NBA All-Star Game upon Isiah Thomas telling people not to pass the ball to Jordan. Although he did not personally see broadcasters mention to take it easy on Clark, he believes it to be an insane assumption.

“I think for a lot of people, it’s going to be interesting watching men migrate into this,” Jones said. “I’ve talked about this a few different times in the past. The way that we talk about sports is very specific to the way that we talk about men and reconciling the way that we generally talk about women in public and polite company with how we talk about sports is going to be a very interesting endeavor as we try to bring these things together. And so I think for a lot of dudes, they don’t necessarily know how to talk about women in public doing the things that these women are doing.”

Drawing a parallel to the monologue delivered by America Ferrara in the Barbie movie last summer, Duncan claimed Jones to have provided a fair assessment. There are times where she thinks it is unfair when women always have to appeal to morality and do things under market value because it is good for the game. While Duncan believes that race plays a factor in the popularity of Clark, she also articulated that she is “wildly fricking talented” and benefitting in a time where the platform has never been bigger or commanded more attention.

“It does feel a little bit impossible, and I think that to understand that we are all still competitors, and I think women have to show levels of humility and deference that men never have to show, and so much of that we naturally carry with us because we are beholden to something better,” Duncan said. “Like a white top prospect doesn’t have to worry that if he doesn’t do the job well, no white man will ever get the job again.”

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Kevin Kelly, Former AEW Announcer, Says He Is Suing the Company

Kelly started with AEW in June of 2023 and was let go in March.

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Graphic for Wise Choices with Eric Bischoff and a screengrab of Kevin Kelly on AEW

Former AEW announcer Kevin Kelly said he is suing All Elite Wrestling over his departure from the company three months ago. Kelly was apparently let go due to several social media posts about why he had not been used more by the company. Kelly also accused fellow AEW announcer Ian Riccaboni of trying to sabotage his career and committing libel against him.

Kelly was a guest of Eric Bischoff on Wise Choices, a second weekly podcast Bischoff puts out in addition to his long-running podcast 83 Weeks.

Kelly told Bischoff that he was struggling mentally due to the situation with Riccaboni and was seeing a psychiatrist provided by the company. He said he was extremely unhappy and took his thoughts to social media and then left an angry message for an HR staffer.

“I went off,” Kelly said about the message he left.

After explaining more of what went on, Bischoff asked, “So what are you going to do? You suing them?”

“Yeah, of course,” Kelly answered. “You have to.”

Kelly, whose real name is Kevin Foote, worked for WWE from 1996-2003 and also worked for Ring of Honor and New Japan Pro-Wrestling prior to his time at AEW. Kelly started with AEW in June of 2023 and was let go in March.

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Jake Marsh Leaving Barstool Sports to Pursue Play-by-Play Opportunities

“I hope one day you are calling a Super Bowl that we are watching and losing bets on…and then blaming you for losing the bets.”

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Logo for Barstool Sports and a photo of Jake Marsh, Dave Portnoy and Dan 'Big Cat' Katz
Photo Courtesy: Barstool Sports (L-R Jake Marsh, Dave Portnoy, Dan 'Big Cat' Katz)

After five years with Barstool Sports, Jake Marsh announced that today was his last episode on Pardon My Take. Marsh said that now is the right time to pursue his dream of being a national network play-by-play broadcaster.

“I’m here to make an announcement,” Marsh said to Dan ‘Big Cat’ Katz and PFT Commenter. “It’s an announcement that was inevitable at some point. After talking with you guys, now makes the most sense. The fact of the matter is this is going to be my last episode on Pardon My Take.”

Big Cat and PFT Commenter said this is something they have been talking about for four or five months, not something Marsh just decided on a whim. “We love having you on the show Jake, you’re a big part of the Pardon My Take story,” PFT Commenter said. “We are very glad you are a part of the story. Me and Big Cat have always said, one day you’re going to go try to do live broadcasts and we are going to wish you the best and we are going to be firmly in your corner. And that is very, very true to this day. I wish you the best career possible. I hope one day you are calling a Super Bowl that we are watching and losing bets on…and then blaming you for losing the bets.”

Marsh explained the reasoning behind his departure. “One of the biggest dominos for this happening right now is the direction Barstool is going in, live broadcasting rights are no longer a priority for this company,” he said. “…And obviously that was my bread and butter here. That’s where I thrive the most. I am so fortunate I got to call multiple bowl games on national television, college basketball, hockey, professional golf.”

Marsh, hired as an intern five years ago, added, “I never thought any of that was remotely possible.”

Marsh said when he started, somebody at Barstool asked him where he sees himself in five to ten years. “Without hesitation I said, ‘I want to be a national network play-by-play broadcaster.’ That brings us to now and that is what I am going all in on.”

Marsh said he is proud of what he has accomplished in his five years with the company. “I have accomplished a lot, thanks to you guys.”

Marsh posted a message to the Barstool community on the website and said, “I’m looking for someone to give me a chance in this business in the booth, just like Pardon My Take gave me a shot five years ago. And I know the first step to making that happen is showing my full availability and flexibility to call games.” 

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Stephen A. Smith: Jeff Van Gundy, Mark Jackson ‘Were Truly an A-Team’

“They were an illustrious tag team that the basketball world enjoyed for more than a decade.”

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Stephen A. Smith
Courtesy: Evan Angelastro, GQ

Jeff Van Gundy, former NBA head coach and television analyst for ESPN, has agreed to a deal to become the lead assistant coach for the LA Clippers, according to a report by ESPN senior NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski. Van Gundy worked as a consultant for the Boston Celtics this past season, which recently culminated in the 18th title in the history of the organization.

Prior to that time, he worked alongside play-by-play announcer Mike Breen and analyst Mark Jackson as part of the lead broadcasting team for the NBA on ESPN, forming a trio that called 15 NBA Finals together. Stephen A. Smith, the featured commentator and executive producer of First Take and analyst on NBA Countdown, recently discussed the reports of Van Gundy joining the Clippers’ coaching staff on his podcast, The Stephen A. Smith Show.

Smith conveyed that he thought Van Gundy may receive an interview for the head coaching role with the Los Angeles Lakers, but that changed upon the report of him joining the Clippers. Van Gundy was laid off by ESPN as a part of cost-cutting measures at the network, and Jackson was let go by the network one month later. In a statement last year, ESPN expressed that these decisions were difficult and “based more on overall efficiency than merit,” but would help the company meet its “financial targets and ensure future growth.”

Smith spoke on his relationship with his former colleagues and prefaced his remarks by saying he was not throwing any shade on Mike Breen, Doris Burke and JJ Redick, the new lead broadcasting team for the network that recently called the 2024 NBA Finals.

“This is not about anything like that,” Smith said. “This is about the fact that Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson were truly an A-team. They were exceptional at their jobs, they were riveting in a lot of ways. They were an illustrious tag team that the basketball world enjoyed for more than a decade.”

During his remarks, Smith expressed that Van Gundy and his brother Stan were good people and also sent his heartfelt condolences to the family upon learning that Stan Van Gundy’s wife passed away as a result of suicide. Stan Van Gundy recently spoke about the loss on an episode of South Beach Sessions with Meadowlark Media co-founder and host Dan Le Batard. Smith then continued to speak on Jeff Van Gundy by expressing that he deserves to do what he wants in the game of basketball.

“I respect the hell out of Jeff and I’m very fond of him, but there’s one thing that we all have to understand, and nobody speaks about this because everybody talks about stuff as unfair and, ‘He got let go,’” Smith explained. “In the world of business, when cuts take place, cuts take place. There’s hundreds of people who lost their jobs, and it wasn’t just at ESPN or at Disney. Have you seen what happened at Meta? Have you seen what has happened in places like Apple and Amazon and other places?”

Although Smith expressed that he is not saying job cuts are right and instead called them “downright cruel,” he questioned when the world of business has been known to be anything otherwise. Smith was sad to see Van Gundy and Jackson leave the network, but he shared that he is not concerned about them recovering because of their reputations and the opportunities that will come in their direction. Moreover, he expressed that it would not be as easy for other people, articulating that it would be more daunting for them to find their footing if they were to lose their roles.

“I work with special people with my day job at ESPN, but nothing’s guaranteed,” Smith said. “Nobody is safe. That includes me, and I’m speaking from experience. Remember, I got fired in 2009. Take nothing for granted in the world of business ladies and gentlemen. No one’s ever safe in this day and age. Numbers make calls, not just people. Numbers dictate a lot.”

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