Players from Team Delle Donne met with the media following Saturday’s WNBA All-Star Game.
Elena Delle Donne, Team Delle Donne
Q. Elena, I know you came out on the short end of this again as captain. Are you going to revisit your drafting strategy in the future?
ELENA DELLE DONNE: No. I’m just glad it was a really good game and Team Delle Donne woke up in the second half a little bit. But I thought it was a really great game for the fans. It was exciting. Got a lot of threes up, so it was good.
Q. We asked A’ja and Kayla, there was a moment just seeing you guys all out there, it looked like everybody was sort of tearing up over Erica. It seems like this is a moment nobody expects from an All-Star Game that it would mean that much to win an MVP. Can you share your thoughts on her journey and what you saw out there?
ELENA DELLE DONNE: Yeah, just looking where she’s come from, and probably at times feeling like she was the only one who believed in herself, and that’s why she’s here, because she never doubted herself. She continued to believe. She’s worked so hard. You can see it in her game from year to year, her improvement and the way she’s been able to shoot the ball so much better now. It’s super impressive that she can make strides like that so quickly.
It’s a really cool moment for all of us players to share in it. We know how hard it is to get to moments like these, so to see her get emotional like that was really nice, and she should really soak this in.
Q. Your thoughts on the experimental subbing process, the hockey style kind of thing. Something they’re trying out that’s new.
ELENA DELLE DONNE: It was fun for an All-Star Game. I definitely don’t want to see it in regular games. There was one time Sylvia Fowles came out of nowhere and got a rebound, and I was like, “When did you get in the game?” So yeah, it’s cool for an All-Star Game, but do not bring that into our games, please.
Q. What’s it like getting the support of people in the crowd like Kobe Bryant, Chris Paul, Megan Rapinoe out there supporting you and what you do? What does it feel to have people like that out here?
ELENA DELLE DONNE: It means so much, especially people who know the game of basketball and who respect it this much. It definitely means a lot for them to come out and support. For some reason, I feel like it helps get rid of those trolls a little bit. Unfortunately there’s people out there that can’t just respect women and respect them for dominating in a sport, but if they see Kobe Bryant respecting women dominating, then they’re like, okay, I can get on board. So it’s huge for people like that to step up and support us.
Q. You’re pivoting back now to the Mystics, going for the championship. Any scouting you gained from being teammates with the Mercury opponents you’re going to face on Tuesday night? And what are your biggest — what is your biggest focus headed into this push for the championship?
ELENA DELLE DONNE: Well, DB [DeWanna Bonner] can shoot the ball from pretty much anywhere on the court, which we already knew, and BG [Brittney Griner] is impossible to stop with just one player, which we already knew. So yeah, we’ve got to get back now to practice and lock back in. I hope everybody had a good rest and they’re ready to go. For us, our focus right now will be defense and defensive rebounding.
Q. The commissioner earlier was talking about the partnership with USA Basketball and she announced that you would be part of that. Can you talk a little bit about why you decided to sign up and be part?
ELENA DELLE DONNE: I mean, whenever USA Basketball calls, it’s no question in my mind that I want to be a part of what they’re doing. It’s always excellence. It’s an organization that’s run the best, and it’s great. Like we finally get to have kind of an offseason together where we actually train and get fans engaged and excited for an Olympic year coming up. So I think this is going to be huge, not just from a basketball standpoint but getting the country behind us.
Q. Away from the All-Star Game and getting back to the regular season, curious, when you make this next West Coast trip you’re going to have to do a stopover in Vegas to make that up. How do you gear up for half of a game you’re up but Vegas is playing some of its best basketball? Have you guys talked about that, thought about that?
ELENA DELLE DONNE: Yeah, we’re going to have to prepare for it like any other game and just kind of not play a second half. So I feel like we’re going to prepare for it, come out like it’s the first half of the game, like it’s 0-0. They’re playing great basketball, like you said. They’re really tough on their home court. You see their fan base. So we’ve got to definitely be ready and focused.
Q. What would you like to see from the WNBA five to ten years from now? Where do you imagine the game in the States as well as international?
ELENA DELLE DONNE: I think it would be nice to see every game like this. I mean, you see what happens when there’s an investment in a team. I mean, the Aces are, what, two years young, and look what they’ve been able to do. It proves that it works. I think we can look to the Aces and see what they did this entire All-Star, what they’ve been doing with their team. You see them everywhere. They’re marketed very well, and kind of take that model and run with it.
Q. Would you rather have more games during the season in the future, or would you rather have more teams?
ELENA DELLE DONNE: I’d rather have what generates the most money.
Brittney Griner (Team Delle Donne) and Allie Quigley (Team Wilson)
Q. BG, you hit three dunks in the first half. I think it’s an All-Star record. Was it something you were trying to do to put on a show for the fans? And Allie, in the third quarter you and Sloot [Courtney Vandersloot] were guarding each other and you hit two threes on her and it seemed like it was a fun time for you. What were those experiences like?
ALLIE QUIGLEY: Yeah, she was talking a lot of mess during the week about how she was going to lock me up on defense, so I had to take my opportunity and prove to her who’s the boss.
BRITTNEY GRINER: Yeah, it was perfect.
ALLIE QUIGLEY: I said “sorry” a couple times, too.
BRITTNEY GRINER: You put her in the front row. I think everybody would have killed me, honestly, if I didn’t dunk, so the whole week everybody was like, dunk, dunk, make sure you dunk. So I was just trying to think about it a little bit more and was able to throw a couple down today. Didn’t get hung. That was my goal. Don’t get hung, don’t fall.
Q. Allie, I saw you and actually Brittney, too, tearing up at the end when Erica Wheeler got that MVP. What emotions were you feeling at that time?
ALLIE QUIGLEY: Just so happy for her. You know, she has an incredible story, not being drafted and then just having a tough time her senior year of college. Just thinking about what she went through and how amazing it is that she could come here and do so well at the All-Star Game, get MVP and just know that her mom is just celebrating up there with her. So we just got emotions that got the best of us.
BRITTNEY GRINER: Yeah, it’s pretty amazing, her story and everything, and if you don’t know it, you need to go figure it out. Her getting MVP was amazing, and I’m so happy for her. No one deserves it more than her.
Q. Your thoughts, first WNBA All-Star Game here in Las Vegas, your thoughts about your time here and how it’s been?
BRITTNEY GRINER: Loved it. I think it was put on really well from the moment that we got here. I think it was a lot of preparation went into it. The team dinner, the parties, everything, Teyana Taylor at our game. So I think they did a really good job here in Vegas. It was good actually seeing current basketball players coming back, legends that were there, or that were here, felt like a really good All-Star.
ALLIE QUIGLEY: Yeah, definitely. You could tell they made a huge effort to try to make this the best All-Star ever and put a little taste of Vegas into it with the Cirque du Soleil and just all the performances. It was pretty amazing every single day that they put on.
Q. Allie, you may have a better understanding than some people about how hard it is to make a roster. You’ve had your own journey on that. Can you talk about that specifically, when you know what Erica went through because you’ve experienced some of that?
ALLIE QUIGLEY: Yeah, and definitely you could tell today that it just kind of caught up with her. I’m sure when she was young, it wasn’t about, oh, one day I want to be MVP of the All-Star Game. It’s just kind of baby steps, and for her to have such an amazing journey, and like I said, not be drafted and just take those baby steps every single year to get better and better and better and now everyone gets to experience that and see how hard work can just take you so far. And it couldn’t happen to a better person.
Q. What would you like to see from the WNBA five to ten years from now, whether it’s here in the States or international?
BRITTNEY GRINER: Well, hopefully I’m not having to go internationally to go play. Hopefully I’m able to stay here and play here in the league at home, where there’s my family, my friends. So hopefully it gets to a point where — I don’t want to keep hitting a dead bush because it’s not a dead bush, but hopefully we’re able to be paid what we deserve. We put our bodies on the line a lot. So I think that’s our No. 1 thing. And then from different teams we hear different things, but travel and stay and other accommodations, hopefully all that meets the high standard that we perform at.
ALLIE QUIGLEY: Yeah, I agree with what she said. I think probably the main thing is just to be able to stay here for seven, eight months out of the year and not have to go over there, keep our product here at home, and just continue to try to grow this league because — and just get more people to know about us. We just need people in the seats, and once they come once, I think for sure the product is going to sell itself.
Jonquel Jones, Team Delle Donne
Q: How exciting was it being a part of this All-Star Game?
Jones: I’m sharing the stage with wonderful women who have not only been great in their communities but good WNBA players, so just being out there with them. I’m happy I was on Team EDD [Elena Delle Donne] because I had a really good vibe with everyone here. Most of the people here I knew before, so it was awesome. I like this format a lot – of the captains with the highest amount of votes picking the teams.
Q: How was it being able to participate in both days of All-Star Weekend?
Jones: It was awesome. It was refreshing to participate in something new. I think it adds more diversity to the lineup of All-Star Weekend. It allows fans to be more engaged and have more events to attend.
Kia Nurse, Team Delle Donne
Q: How exciting was your first All-Star experience in Las Vegas?
Nurse: It was awesome! Being able to be a part of it with so many great players that are also great people – and getting to know them off the court was so much fun. The fans were great, the atmosphere was great. I’m very fortunate to have my first one here.
Q: How was it being able to participate in both days of All-Star Weekend?
Nurse: Exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time. But it was so much fun to be able to represent New York and Canada. My family was here so it was fun to have them cheering me on as well. I’m very fortunate and grateful for everyone who voted for me to have this opportunity. It’s been amazing. All the legends, to be around them, because without them we wouldn’t have a league like this. It was absolutely amazing.
Q: What do you think about Las Vegas as a host city?
Nurse: It was awesome. They do a really good job marketing their team, so their fanbase is awesome. It’s a fun place with lots of things to do so you can’t get bored here. That was the best part about it, people the entire weekend whether we were walking around the casino or at the hotel, people knew we were here and that was the great part of the marketing they did here.