Having the opportunity to sit down, hear and share the stories of WNBA athletes is truly an amazing experience. Recently we were able to talk to WNBA player of the Las Vegas Aces, A’ja Wilson and WNBA player for the Chicago Sky, Diamond DeShields, about the upcoming 25th WNBA season, which is exciting, as well as their input on Nike’s revamp of Nike Rebel Edition Jerseys.
It’s an exciting time to be an athlete, especially as a woman. You both provided input in the process of how the new Rebel Edition uniforms would fit. What changes did you feel were important to the league? Diamond: I think the biggest thing in the process, was the fit. We have a lot of players that roll their shorts, like myself…roll their jerseys right here (top of shoulder blade). So, I feel that Nike really wanted to emphasize that, and make it a really important part of the design process. Because, you know – it’s one thing to roll your shorts once but some players are getting like two and three rolls. At that point, something is wrong – from a design stand point. So, I feel like Nike did a really good job at getting our feedback on that and putting us in different fits and things; taking measurements… Me – Yes! That’s awesome, that’s a good thing! A’Ja speaks to this point as well. It’s really what Diamond said, it’s understanding that all of our bodies are different but coming together to make something work for each individual. I think Nike took that and ran with it, and for that we are grateful. Now we have something that is for us and I am just happy to be apart of it. I am glad at the way they look. I can only imagine how they fit and feel.
How did it make you feel to see the Rebel Edition Uniforms come to life? What did that mean to you personally? A’ja: It meant a lot to me personally. Knowing at that we have an edition to our jerseys was super key. For us, just to pinpoint our city, being the entertainment capital of the world and just seeing classy (she won’t use the word bourgeosie, as Diamond gets mad *laughter*). Just to see what we represent on the Las Vegas Strip, Vegas as a whole and it just means a lot to see that put into a uniform that we can rock; because that’s a connection we have to our fans and our city of course…it’s a fun jersey and I honestly cannot wait to rock it. Diamond also shares her thoughts. This is like the first time I have been in the W, that it has instilled a sense of pride in me. Before, we were in these universal template uniforms, just switch the sponsors and change the colors…and we really didn’t care what uniform we played in; there was no pride in that. Now we can start to see a sense of pride, when we put on the uniform. Many of us are not from the cities that we play in. Now, I think we will start to feel a sense of pride, representing the franchise and when we put on the City Edition uniforms. It’s just nice to even have an edition like, A’ja Said.
This is the 25th season of the WNBA, so talk about what that means to you both? This is super exciting! This is so important for women and girls that follow you. Diamond: It represents a turning point. A quarter of a century – this is a milestone; a landmark. It’s a great time to be in the league, to be honest. We talk about women empowerment and fighting for equality and all these movements that are taking place; behind women, not even speaking on everything else. Just behind women alone. To be in the league like the WNBA, that has always stood in the forefront of those fights and those types of conversations; to have a company like Nike to get our input, and have us be a part of these conversations and decisions. Changing the uniforms of the WNBA is a really really big move and it’s going to mean a lot, not only for us, but for our fans. Just 25 is a special number in the WNBA. And I feel like it’s gonna be a really really big year! A’ja: Yeah it really is. It’s the best time to be in our league and I am hoping people are jumping on the bandwagon; because this is surely just the beginning of the growth that we are really going through and the timing is perfect…and like Diamond said, how everything is just surrounded by the woman now. This is just truly incredible. Our league is full of just powerful, independent, just bad-ass women! And I wouldn’t want to be alongside anyone else. Especially now, where all the focal point is on the woman. And like Diamond said, when you are connecting with a big company like Nike and they’re willing to reach out and say hey, how can we make you look better, how can we make you look good and feel good? That’s just key. And being one of the young guns in the league…the best is yet to come. I am just super excited to play at this point.
What do you think about the importance of platforms, such as Made for the W, in collaborating and telling the stories of women; be it the the WNBA or just as women athletes. A’ja: I think it’s super important and your work never goes unnoticed because the story needs to be told, it has to be told. It has to be out there. We dribble up and down the court all the time; we make it look easy. But behind that uniform, behind that jersey is a phenomenal woman that is working so hard in her community, for her family. We have mothers in our league that are going crazy on the court, but yet have to take care of their toddler. I can only imagine and I have two puppies (laughter). And when we have people like you guys that are breaking that story and digging down a little bit deeper; forming that connection with the fanbase or fan and making us very human like; people tend to forget that we are still human. It’s a great feeling to have. And to have you guys, on platforms behind us, for sure. Diamond: I don’t think we would be where we are without the digital media. The women who are doing the work, behind the scenes; on our behalf. It’s because of you guys our stories are being told in the way that they are. And that’s like, that’s the truth. We have women that are in these rooms now that are speaking up and are being vocal. We have players that are in these rooms now that are speaking up that are being vocal. Platforms like Made for the W over time; and all the platforms that are showing love to specifically women in sports and women in basketball. We wouldn’t be here without you guys. I appreciate you. Seeing these platforms grow, seeing the content that’s being put out. Learning about the people who are behind the platforms, like yourself…it means SO much. Because for so long we have been here. The product has been here; but because of ya’ll we are able to grow and expand. So, thank you!! Honestly!
So are you excited for your fans to see your new uniforms and new jerseys? A’ja: I think excited is an understatement! I can’t wait to just rock it and put it on and be clean! I cannot wait! Diamond: I think it will offer the fans a breath of fresh air! Coming out of quarantine, I’m getting DM’s, I’m getting tweets, the fans are so ready and excited. The fans don’t even have a clue that these uniforms are about to drop! I think they just gonna freak out! A’ja: I think so too, I think so too…it’s time to shake the table. I think they are really gonna explode! Diamond: They are gonna feel like Nike just did something for them, like aww they care about us. A’ja: Nike gotta drop these at midnight! So when everybody is sleep and they wake up, pull some Beyonce stuff!
It was a pleasure and an honor to to have the conversations with A’ja and Diamond. I know I have to cop a few of the new Rebel Edition jerseys and if I can get the whole uniform – shorts included, I shall. We wish all of our WNBA teams the best 25th season and we cannot wait to see them in court in their new uniforms.