Since its inception in 1999, the WNBA All-Star Game has become a staple of the league.
The annual exhibition marks the halfway point of the season and showcases the top talent in the league on one of the biggest stages in the game. In the past, the game had been between the Eastern and Western Conferences. However, this changed in 2018, when a draft format similar to the NBA was put into place.
With the relocation of the San Antonio Stars moving to Las Vegas to become the Aces in 2018, it was only a matter of time until Vegas hosted the midsummer game. Just one year removed from the first season in the new city, the inevitable became a reality.
AT&T WNBA All-Star 2019 in Las Vegas was one for the ages. Hosted at the Mandalay Bay Event Center, home of the Aces, the WNBA designated Friday night to the Skills Challenge and 3-Point Contest for the first time since 2006. In previous years, the 3-Point Contest was conducted at halftime of the actual All-Star game. With this new addition, the WNBA followed the template of the NBA and separated the game from the skills competition.
With an abundance of fans throughout the arena, including celebrities like Kobe Bryant, Chris Paul, Sue Bird and Megan Rapinoe, it was clear that the 2019 WNBA All-Star Game was a smashing success. However, it wasn’t only the fans who had a great experience but also the players themselves.
“It was amazing. Definitely one of the best that I’ve attended. They treated us with great hospitality. Everything was fun and it was good to get out there and play with some of the best. I’m happy.”
“It was electric. It was positive. And I think we should have it here every year.” All-Star Game captain for Team Wilson, A’ja Wilson said. “I don’t think I have a say in it but just the feel of it. Everyone kind of was here. You have players that were not even in competition at all here to support their teammates. That’s what it’s all about. We’re all coming together and watching a game and playing a game that we love, and I just had so much fun.”
“Everybody was having a great time,” Aces’ guard Kayla McBride said. “But this is a moment where we can kind of sit back and reflect on everything that’s happened and who we are as people and as players and our journeys and just kind of celebrate that, and Vegas has allowed us to do that.”
“I’m happy I was on Team EDD [Elena Delle Donne] because I had a really good vibe with everyone here,” two-time All-Star Jonquel Jones said. “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.”
High praise for the 2019 WNBA All-Star Game wasn’t just heard from repeating All-Stars but also players making their first appearance on the big stage.
“Vegas is big. It’s really big. And the crowd in Vegas has always been big, even when we come here and play, so I knew that we would get some love because it’s not just about the Vegas players that’s here. I knew they would show everyone love.” All-Star Game MVP Erica Wheeler said. “For them to give me that love was super important to me. The crowd was crazy. Credit to Vegas for putting on an amazing event because it’s been nothing but great.”
“It was awesome, this whole experience has been amazing. They’ve done a great job with this and it was really cool to be on the court with everyone.”
“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.”