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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 toldJust Womens Sports.

That catharsis showed in the raucous celebrations after Las Vegasbecame the first team to win back-to-back titles sincethe Los Angeles Sparks in 2001 and 2002. From aparade down the Striptoa 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 thats why people really love watching us play, because that kind of permeates onto the court.

Im 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 wasnt 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 teamssniped 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 its really just elevated the league overall. And thats the biggest win out of all of it.

After the WNBA Finals and ensuing celebrations, Plum faced a quick turnaround forUSA Basketballs 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 its done a number on my body, she said. At the same time, USA Basketball is very important to me. Weve been training for this since shoot, I mean, forever, it feels like.

Plum won Olympic gold as part of Team USAs 33 team at the 2021 Summer Games in Tokyo. Now, she is primed to compete for a roster spot on the traditional 55 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 DICKS Sporting Goods for theirHoliday Shopping Sprint.

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

Im just a soldier in this fight, so whatever they tell me, whether thats socks, shoes now I will say, Im 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 cant help them with that. But everything else, I got them.

Im going to wear the best shoes Ive got, Im going to be hydrated. Im taking this very, very, very seriously. Were not leaving anything on the table.