all scores

Kelsey Plum: Why the Las Vegas Aces ‘let loose’ after WNBA title

Kelsey Plum celebrates during the Las Vegas Aces' 2023 WNBA championship parade. (Jeff Bottari/NBAE via Getty Images)

For two years in a row, the Las Vegas Aces have ended the WNBA season as champions. Yet only after the Aces’ second title did Kelsey Plum finally allow herself to reflect on the accomplishment.

“I feel like for the first time in my career, I really have allowed it to soak in,” Plum told Just Women’s Sports.

That catharsis showed in the raucous celebrations after Las Vegas became the first team to win back-to-back titles since the Los Angeles Sparks in 2001 and 2002. From a parade down the Strip to a personalized concert invitation from Usher, the Aces did not hold back in sharing their joy.

“We have a lot of fun together,” Plum said. “And I think that’s why people really love watching us play, because that kind of permeates onto the court.

“I’m not going to lie, it was a long year for everyone, not just collectively but individually. And so I think that people let loose a little bit when we finally won, which, to me, I wasn’t mad at. I thought it was awesome.”

To reach that point, the Aces first had to do battle with the New York Liberty in the WNBA Finals. And while both teams sniped at each other after the series, Plum called the attention and the rivalry “great for the game.” In particular, she pointed to the buy-in from both franchises, which paid off on the court.

“The incredible investment that both franchises have made have just put the W in a different place,” she said. “And I think that it’s really just elevated the league overall. And that’s the biggest win out of all of it.”

After the WNBA Finals and ensuing celebrations, Plum faced a quick turnaround for USA Basketball’s fall training camp, which is being held from Nov. 7-9 in Atlanta. The 40-game WNBA season and deep playoff run presented what she called a “brutal” challenge.

“So I think it’s done a number on my body,” she said. “At the same time, USA Basketball is very important to me. We’ve been training for this since — shoot, I mean, forever, it feels like.”

Plum won Olympic gold as part of Team USA’s 3×3 team at the 2021 Summer Games in Tokyo. Now, she is primed to compete for a roster spot on the traditional 5×5 team for the 2024 Games in Paris.

After the USA Basketball camp, Plum will turn her attention to the rest of the offseason. And her competitive streak will come in handy as she partners with DICK’S Sporting Goods for their Holiday Shopping Sprint.

One lucky winner will team up with Plum for a frantic three-minute, $5,000 shopping spree. Plum remembers trips to DICK’S with her father for Spalding TF-1000 basketballs, but she’ll let her teammate lay out the shopping list this holiday season.

“I’m just a soldier in this fight, so whatever they tell me, whether that’s socks, shoes — now I will say, I’m not going to grab anything but Under Armour shoes,” said Plum, who inked a deal with that brand in 2022. “So if they want something else, I can’t help them with that. But everything else, I got them.

“I’m going to wear the best shoes I’ve got, I’m going to be hydrated. I’m taking this very, very, very seriously. … We’re not leaving anything on the table.”