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A Minute with A’ja Wilson

WNBA All-Star Weekend was a blast. The league activated the WNBA Live fan zone and it was running for the duration of the All-Star festivities. It’s an incredible interactive experience loaded with games, food, and even a live panel with Napheesa Collier, Crystal Langhorne, Betnijah Laney, and Ticha Penicheiro on the impact and importance of Title IX.

CHICAGO, IL – JULY 9: before the 2022 WNBA MTN DEW 3-Pt Contest and Skills Challenge as part of the 2022 WNBA All-Star Weekend on July 9, 2022 at McCormick Place in Chicago, Illinois. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2022 NBAE (Photo by Kena Krutsinger/NBAE via Getty Images)

Some official league sponsors also curated a couple of spaces within the event. Mountain Dew had a full-on A’ja Wilson display, with some of her favorite looks from the season and a video with some of her best moments throughout her career. A’ja stopped by the Dew Zone Saturday morning, when we chopped it up about everything All-Star related and beyond. And of course, we had to get into what Nike laced her with for the game.

CHICAGO, IL – JULY 9: before the 2022 WNBA MTN DEW 3-Pt Contest and Skills Challenge as part of the 2022 WNBA All-Star Weekend on July 9, 2022 at McCormick Place in Chicago, Illinois. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2022 NBAE (Photo by Kena Krutsinger/NBAE via Getty Images)

Raymond Lyons: “Hey it’s Raymond with Made For the W here with the mayor of South Carolina herself, Ms. A’ja Wilson. How you doing?”

A’ja Wilson: “I’m doing well.”

RL: “We know in 2020 the world kinda stopped, 2021 was a business trip with you guys gearing up for Tokyo. This is the first real All-Star Experience in a few years. How does it feel?”

AW: “Feels good. It feels good to be back. I’m excited. I really missed the Mountain Dew suite. It’s always so dope. They bring a lot of the vision to life and I’m glad that we could share with everyone this year.”

RL: “This is your second go-round being a captain. You’re 1-0 so far. GM A’ja in full effect. You know that roster is looking nice. Of course, we have to keep the winning streak alive. And we have to send Big Syl (Sylvia Fowles) out with a win. No pressure though. How is it feeling?”

AW: “Man it’s nice. I ain’t got no worries. I’m good. Like you said, we’re 1-0. When it comes to Team Wilson, we don’t play when it gets to All-Star so I’m excited to have Syl on my team for her last go round because she was there for me my rookie year in Minnesota. So it’s really come full circle.”

RL: “We’re now kinda entering a new era in the WNBA. We just talked about Syl, Sue Bird is retiring as well. We don’t know how much longer we’re going to have Diana Taurasi, Candace Parker, and other players that have meant so much to the league. You got a little bit of skin in the game, this is your 5th year, but you have way more ahead of you than behind you. How does it feel to be one of the most visible stars in the league during this transformative era?”

AW: “Man it’s super dope. It really is and I just love it because I’m doing something that I love and something that I’m blessed with. It’s a gift that God has given me to share with the world. I love what I do so it’s super fun just to be able to be me, while doing it and continue to show the next generation that they can make an impression, just as I have. I hate that we’re losing our legends but at the same time, they’re still gonna be there no matter what, and I’m just blessed to say that I was around and I was able to play with some of them.”

Photo: Mountain Dew

RL: “As for you yourself, you’re well on pace to be amongst those legends. You got the natty in college, Rookie of the Year, WNBA MVP, so on and so forth, but a lot of players that are on your career trajectory – when they retire they talk a lot about not enjoying the moment and not celebrating wins. But from the outside looking in, it looks like you’re having the time of your life.”

AW: “Oh I don’t have no problems celebrating wins. I’m one blessed kid. So I love it. I love letting people live kinda a little bit of my life and see that I’m blessed and everything else just kinda falls in line and just make sure to have some fun as well.”

RL: “How do you maintain that balance of living in the moment but still keeping the main thing the main thing?”

AW: “Man, I would just have to say my village that helped raise me. They really understand just how to pull me in. And they tell me things I need to hear and not necessarily things I want to hear. It keeps me honest. It keeps me humble through and through. Anytime I get an opportunity just to be me and live, I’m like ‘aww man, I executing it.’”

RL: “What’s the Becky Hammon experience been like so far?”

AW: “It’s been great. It’s been great. I feel like she was the nice breath of fresh air that we needed. She gets us in. She knows how to reel us in. We’re all bought in. Yeah, we’re in a rough patch right now but we’re gonna figure it out. But it’s been great so far.”

RL: “So you know, you tasted the Finals in 2020. What’s it gonna take to get over that hump and raise the trophy?”

AW: “Everybody. It’s gonna take everybody. Whatever that means, however that looks, it’s gonna take everybody to be really locked in. Our league is really, really good but we gotta understand we’re really good as well and we deserve to be here just like anybody else, so a lot of hard work and a lot of people bought in.”

CHICAGO, IL – JULY 9: before the 2022 WNBA MTN DEW 3-Pt Contest and Skills Challenge as part of the 2022 WNBA All-Star Weekend on July 9, 2022 at McCormick Place in Chicago, Illinois. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2022 NBAE (Photo by Kena Krutsinger/NBAE via Getty Images)

RL: “I know Phee’s doing the mom thing now but when’s the podcast coming back man?”

AW: “Phee’s gotta raise a kid right now. After that, then we can talk about some things. I’m not tryna get into that (laughs).”

RL: “So I’m a DC guy. And your rook, of course from the hometown, I’ve been watching her since she was in high school. Just talk about Aisha Sheppard and how she’s been progressing and how she’s been doing this year?”

AW: “Man Shep, that’s my Sheppy. She’s such a sweet, kind hearted person. She wants everything to be, look and sound a certain way and I’m like Shep the world is not perfect. It’s okay to mess up girl. But I love it. To be so young and to want to be so great so early, I love it. But that’s my rookie, that’s my Sheppy. And I love her.”

RL: “Aight man, you know this is Made For The W. We gotta talk about it. If it’s G-14 classified don’t worry about it but what those feet gonna look like tomorrow?”

AW: “Maaaaannn, I got some nice lil Cosmic Unity’s, lil things. A lil dib and dab. We gonna see what it really, really looks like but I like them. They’re like a nice little color scheme.”

RL: “Yeah we know how you always do. Got the SB Dunk Low Pandas on right now.”

AW: “Oh yeah, I’m simple. You know I’m gonna have my dunks on. Simple, slight dunks. But yeah, we’re gonna be looking real nice.”

A’ja served as captain for Team Wilson and led them to a 134-112 victory over Team Stewart in the 2022 WNBA All-Star Game. It was such a pleasure to be able to connect with her over conversation, as I was able to see the balance firsthand, of being both locked in as well as grounded, on and off the court.

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Hoops Enthusiast. Self Proclaimed Genius. Native Washingtonian. And I know the first and last names of every character on The Simpsons. I have a deep passion for the game of basketball. I have played, reffed, coached and now reporting / blogging.

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