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ESPN's Pat McAfee apologizes for vulgar praise of WNBA star Caitlin Clark

ESPN host Pat McAfee apologized Monday for dropping the b-word in his off-color praise of WNBA star Caitlin Clark.

McAfee was pushing back at the notion that the recent surge in WNBA popularity can be traced to not only Clark's emergence, but the play and personalities of fellow rookies like Angel Reese and Cameron Brink.

“What the WNBA currently has is what we like to describe as a cash cow. There is a superstar,” McAfee said on "The Pat McAfee Show."

“I would like the media people that continue to say, ‘This rookie class, this rookie class, this rookie class.’ Nah, just call it for what it is — there’s one white b--- for the Indiana team who is a superstar.”

Within hours of that ranting praise of the Indiana Fever guard, McAfee took to social media to retract.

"I shouldn’t have used 'white b----' as a descriptor of Caitlin Clark," McAfee wrote.

McAfee said no " matter the context," he was wrong to use that language to describe a player he has "way too much respect for."

"My intentions when saying it were complimentary just like the entire segment, but a lot of folks are saying that it certainly wasn’t at all," he added. "That’s 100% on me and for that I apologize."

Clark, the NCAA's all-time leading scorer, was the No. 1 pick in the 2024 WNBA draft. She captivated college basketball fans with an offensive skill set that featured making shots from just inside half court.

Clark led the Iowa Hawkeyes to back-to-back national title games (losing both times), the most recent against South Carolina, drawing 18.7 million viewers. That figure blew past the men's national championship between UConn and Purdue (14.8 million).

Since joining the WNBA, Clark's Indiana Fever has set a record in ticket sales and the league itself in viewership.

She was named WNBA Rookie of the Month for May after leading all first-year players in scoring (17.6 points per game), field goals made (46), 3-pointers made (24), free throws made (42), assists (6.6 per game) and minutes played (33 per game).

This article was originally published on NBCNews.com