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.”

The Las Vegas Aces had a lot to say during their 2023 WNBA championship parade, with much of it directed at the New York Liberty.

There was a lot of talking about going for a three-peat, with WNBA Finals MVP A’ja Wilson noting that the Aces are “going to do this s–t again.” The Aces were the first team in 21 years to win back-to-back titles, beating the Liberty in four games.

“We’re going to keep coming back, and everybody hates it,” Kelsey Plum told the crowd at Monday’s parade.

Yet the Aces’ Game 3 loss to the Liberty — their only loss throughout the 2023 playoffs — still sticks out as a source of frustration. In particular, Sabrina Ionescu’s “night night” celebration after hitting a key 3-pointer remains a point of contention. Sydney Colson mimicked the gesture after the Aces’ series-clinching win over the Liberty, and it came up again during the parade.

“They messed up when they went ‘night night,’” Chelsea Gray said. “And Sydney said I’m sitting on that Sabrina!”

Meanwhile, head coach Becky Hammon called out Liberty star Breanna Stewart’s Game 4 stat line, which included her going 3-for-17 from the field while being guarded by Alysha Clark.

“Alysha Clark was my rookie in San Antonio,” Hammon said, to which Clark replied: “Talk about it.”

“3-for-17 is you need to talk about it,” Hammon responded.

Wilson, meanwhile, was focused on her MVP snub, opting to wear a shirt that had the voting numbers on the back. She finished third for the regular-season award behind Stewart and Connecticut Sun star Alyssa Thomas. Wilson also called out the person that voted for her in fourth place, noting that she was going to use it as fuel for next season.

And at the end of the night, the Aces couldn’t resist getting in one more “night night.”

A’ja Wilson took one last shot at the person who put her in fourth place on their WNBA MVP ballot.

During the Las Vegas Aces’ championship parade Monday, Wilson wore a shirt that featured the MVP voting results on the back. Wilson received 17 first-place votes, 25 second-place votes, 17 third-place votes and one fourth-place vote, and she finished third overall behind Breanna Stewart and Alyssa Thomas.

But Wilson had the last laugh, winning the WNBA title over Stewart’s New York Liberty and the Finals MVP award. And during the Aces’ celebration, Wilson spoke about using the snub as fuel for next season.

“Whoever you are out there that voted me fourth, thank you. Thank you so much,” she said. “I wanna say I appreciate you because that just means I got a lot more work to do. And we coming back. We coming back baby. We’re gonna do this s–t again.”

Las Vegas head coach Becky Hammon touted Wilson during her speech, calling out the player who she believes will be the “GOAT of the GOATs.”

“Listen here, I’m an old ass b–ch,” Hammon said. “I played against all of the GOATs. Oh, I’m gonna put it out there: This gonna be the GOAT of the GOATs. She don’t even know how I’m about to be on that ass, because she’s that good.

“I’m trying to think of a NBA comp, I’m trying to think of a WNBA comp. And there ain’t nobody in the world like A’ja Wilson, who willed us on her back.”

Hammon and Wilson’s college coach, South Carolina’s Dawn Staley, also have called out Wilson’s MVP snub. For Hammon, that’s a sure sign that the voters “didn’t do their homework,” she said during the Aces’ playoff run.

A’ja Wilson’s WNBA Finals run is more impressive than we knew.

The 27-year-old forward has been spotted wearing a hand cast in the days following the Las Vegas Aces’ championship win over the New York Liberty. Wilson, who was named Finals MVP after the Aces’ 3-1 series win, led Las Vegas with 23.8 points, 11.8 rebounds and 2.3 blocks through nine playoff games.

On Friday, two days after the title-clinching victory, Wilson and her teammates went out to bingo together, as chronicled by guard Sydney Colson on social media. Players sported colorful wigs, but Wilson had an extra accessory: a black cast on her left hand.

Wilson again could be seen in the cast Monday during the Aces’ championship parade on the Las Vegas Strip. While Wilson has not addressed her injury in the wake of the WNBA Finals, teammate Kelsey Plum offered an explanation on her Instagram Stories during the celebration.

“She played with a banged thumb post-All Star…” Plum wrote alongside a photo of Wilson in her cast.

So according to Plum, Wilson played the entire second half of the season with a thumb injury. But she didn’t let that slow her down during the Aces’ run to a second straight WNBA title.

The Las Vegas Aces are hosting their WNBA championship parade Monday on the Strip. And according to Finals MVP A’ja Wilson, the back-to-back champions are raising the stakes for their 2023 celebration.

After the Aces won their first title in franchise history in 2022, Wilson told fans to come to the parade “four shots in.” Make it double for 2023, she said after the Aces won the 2023 Finals over the New York Liberty.

“Last year I said four shots. But this year, we going eight,” Wilson said, to the delight of her teammates. “So get ready.

“Children, drink your ginger ale, have fun, listen to your parents, go to bed on time, go to school, get good grades. Old people — not old people, but people that aren’t children — drink responsibly, but we about to turn it up out here.”

The parade, which is set to begin at 8 p.m. ET Monday, will run up Las Vegas Boulevard toward T-Mobile Arena. It will end outside the arena at Toshiba Plaza.

During the Aces’ 2022 parade, Kelsey Plum promised it would not be the last. Since then, Las Vegas has celebrated a Stanley Cup with the 2023 NHL champion Golden Knights, and now the Aces are back for another party.

“This is a long time coming,” Plum said in 2022. “I wanna let you guys know that this is just the beginning. We’re just getting started.”

New York Liberty players took exception to Las Vegas Aces guard Kelsey Plum’s criticism of their team following the WNBA Finals.

The Aces won a second consecutive WNBA championship, running it back with a very similar lineup to their 2022 title-winning season. After Wednesday’s series-clinching win, Plum pointed to Las Vegas’ long journey to that point — as compared to New York, which assembled its roster in the 2023 offseason.

“There was a lot of years that we weren’t so super,” she said. “But you can’t build a superteam in a couple of months. It takes years.”

Plum also questioned the Liberty’s team mentality.

“We also knew that, as much as they’re a team, they’re not a team, if that makes sense,” she told Yahoo Sports. “They’re really good individual players, but they don’t care about each other. And you can tell in those moments. They revert back to individual basketball.”

On Friday, Liberty players called out Plum’s comments in their end-of-season interviews.

“I think it’s easy to kick people when they’re down and you’re up, and honestly to me, it felt classless,” Jonquel Jones said. “You could celebrate with your team, and instead you chose to essentially s— on someone else.”

Sabrina Ionescu pushed back on the notion that New York isn’t a team, saying that “couldn’t be further from the truth.”

“I’ve never been on a team that’s been more committed to one another than what it’s been like this year,” she said. “We had players that came together in a short amount of time… to try to win.”

Breanna Stewart sidestepped a question on Plum’s criticism, calling the Aces “phenomenal” and congratulating them on their win.

“Win or lose, we’ll just continue to carry ourselves with grace and keep that going forward,” she said.

Head coach Sandy Brondello admitted she had not looked much at social media since her team’s loss Wednesday, but she did say that what Plum said about the Liberty is “wrong.”

“I don’t even think I should comment, because I know it’s not true,” she said. “This team has grown so close together in a short period of time, and what Kelsey said is wrong.”

Plum then took to social media to clarify her comments.

“Since the media wants to do click bait, imma cut this drama out right now so we can move on and be in peace,” she wrote on X. “What I said was taken extremely out of context. I was trying to articulate my teammates and I have been through a lot and we used our bond to get over the hump.”

She also apologized for how her words came on, noting that she didn’t intend to “throw shade.”

“Never been the type to throw shade, quite the opposite actually,” she continued. “I see how it came off, never was my intention and I apologize. Our game grew immensely from this series, don’t let this bull shit detract from the biggest win here.”

The love between A’ja Wilson and South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley is palpable.

Staley has been supportive of her former player as Wilson has taken the WNBA by storm, just as she has with her other former Gamecocks. And there’s not another college coach like Staley, who has become a constant on WNBA sidelines.

After the Aces’ championship win Wednesday, a postgame moment between Staley and former South Carolina star Alaina Coates went viral, with Coates writing on social media that “words can’t express” how much she loves and appreciates Staley.

Ahead of Game 3 in New York, Staley surprising Wilson at New York’s Barclays Center also went viral. And during Game 4, she even offered to “yell at the refs” for Wilson, Coates and the Aces.

In the aftermath of the title win, Wilson took the time to speak about what her relationship with Staley means to her and the moment the two shared together after the game.

“She’s watched me win on every level at this point,” Wilson said, noting that Staley coached her to an NCAA championship and to Olympic gold. “That’s a special moment between us.

“Everyone knows in this room, Coach Staley is like my second mom. So for her to come out – and she texted me, she was like, ‘I’m coming to this one’ – she didn’t surprise me this time. It was just a true moment and I knew I had to find her.

“She has really molded me into the player that I am today. She spent countless hours just telling me what I need to do at the pro level. I thought that relationship was kind of going to disappear as I got to a pro [level] but we’ve still stayed together. … It was just truly a special moment. It was a moment that, that’s gonna be forever, something that I tell my kids about.”

LeBron James wants just one thing out of the WNBA Finals for A’ja Wilson: her own signature shoe.

Following Wilson’s Finals MVP performance for the back-to-back champion Las Vegas Aces, James took to Instagram, where he called Wilson “the TRUTH!!!!!!” The NBA star gifted Wilson with a custom pair of his signature Nike sneakers ahead of Game 1 of the Finals, and she played in them throughout the series.

“Signature shoe coming!!” he wrote on Instagram Stories. “I mean what we talking about! Congrats @aja22wilson.”

Of course, James isn’t the first to suggest that Wilson should have her own shoe, and he certainly shouldn’t be the last. Several players have released shoes in recent years – including Breanna Stewart with Puma, as well as Elena Delle Donne and Sabrina Ionescu with Nike.

Wilson is also a Nike athlete. So why shouldn’t she be added to the list? Aces head coach Becky Hammon said following Game 1 of the WNBA Finals that Wilson “needs her own shoe.”

“She is the two-time MVP. I’ll toot her horn because she won’t,” she said. “Olympic gold medalist, best defensive player two years running, her team’s (success)… Stop. Stop.”

Wilson, though, is biding her time.

“We’ll see what goes on, but in due time I believe we’re going to get something moving and shaking. But I’m blessed just to have my name in that conversation,” she told The Messenger.

“A lot of players don’t get signature shoes so for people to say I should or demanding that I get one, I’m blessed to be in that situation. So, in due time, we’ll see, until then I’m going to rock these LeBron 21s until the heel falls off.”

From Alysha Clark to Rhyne Howard to Ja Morant, everyone is still trying to figure out who put A’ja Wilson in fourth place on their WNBA MVP ballot.

The Las Vegas Aces star was named Finals MVP after averaging 23.8 points and 11.8 rebounds per game through her team’s postseason run. That included a 24-point, 16-rebound performance in Game 4 of the Finals to seal back-to-back-titles for the Aces.

And after the 70-69 win over the New York Liberty, people were demanding answers for the regular-season MVP voting.

“3rd place + a 4th place vote,” Wilson posted on social media.

Liberty star Breanna Stewart won the regular-season MVP award, with Connecticut Sun forward Alyssa Thomas as the first runner-up. Wilson finished in third in one of the closest MVP votes in league history. Just 13 points separated Stewart and Wilson in the final tally.

NBA player Ja Morant posted on social media after the Aces’ title win, writing: “We know how the awards should’ve went but … ring the mayor of SC.”

During the Aces’ postgame press conference, Alysha Clark and other Aces players used their time in front of the press to try and get the culprit to come forward. A national panel of 60 sportswriters and broadcasters vote on the award.

“Who put A’ja in fourth place for MVP? C’mon, now’s the time,” Clark asked, which sent the room into chaos. “I just wanna know. … Everybody wants to know. No shame.”

Former WNBA Rookie of the Year Rhyne Howard also voiced her support for Wilson, posting a screenshot that read: “Whoever voted A’ja 4th needs to do a public apology at the parade.”

The 2023 WNBA Finals were billed as a battle of the titans between the Las Vegas Aces and the New York Liberty. But in the end, only one team lived up to the superteam label.

The Liberty assembled a superstar lineup in the offseason, signing Breanna Stewart and Courtney Vandersloot and trading for Jonquel Jones. The Aces, meanwhile, added Candace Parker – though they went without the injured star for the latter half of the season.

In the end, the Aces came out on top, winning a second consecutive WNBA title. Las Vegas won the first title in franchise history in 2022 with much the same lineup.

“This group has been through so much. But it’s here,” Aces guard Kelsey Plum said. “And there was a lot of years that we weren’t so super. But you can’t build a superteam in a couple of months. It takes years.”

Plum also questioned New York’s team mentality, not just its superteam credentials.

“We also knew that, as much as they’re a team, they’re not a team, if that makes sense,” she told Yahoo Sports. “They’re really good individual players, but they don’t care about each other. And you can tell in those moments. They revert back to individual basketball.”

For Las Vegas, the road back to the championship wasn’t an easy one. Injuries left the team depleted for Game 4 of the Finals, but in the end, there wasn’t anything that could keep the Aces from back-to-back championships.

“This is a moment that we need to celebrate,” Finals MVP A’ja Wilson said. “Not a lot of people get a chance to do it, and for us to do it short-handed is truly amazing. It just makes this win that much better.

“I’m going to get choked up … This s— wasn’t easy.”

Winning one title isn’t easy. Winning consecutive titles is even harder.

“This one’s sweeter,” head coach Becky Hammon said after the series-clinching win. “It just is. It’s harder to do.”