This weekend Salt Lake City will host one of the greatest spectacles of the sports world. NBA All-Star weekend will be in town and WNBA champion and MVP, A’ja Wilson, will be on hand for all the festivities. Starry has been recently named the official sports drink of the NBA and with A’ja joining the Starry roster, she’ll be front and center for all their activations. I chatted with her for a few minutes from the Starry NBA Crossover interactive fan event where we chopped it up about everything from Starry’s presence at ASW to WNBA free agency.
A’ja joined me via zoom from the fan zone still riding high from winning the WNBA championship last summer. She says it probably won’t feel real to her until she and her teammates get their rings and raise the banner Michelob Ultra Arena. After falling short in the Finals in 2020, the Aces finally punched through the wall and won the first title in franchise history. From there, we got into A’ja’s growing brand presence. She was the face of Nike’s Cosmic Unity campaign and became the first female athlete to sign a partnership deal with Ruffles. Now with her joining the Starry brand, she will be prominently displayed in the soft drink’s heavy promotion during NBA All-Star Weekend and later this summer in Vegas. A’ja is already one of the most popular players in the W and the partnership with Starry will elevate her profile to another level.
When asked about the whirlwind WNBA free agency period, the mayor of South Carolina was more than happy to watch from the sideline and enjoy the madness. A’ja was able to witness the chaos unfold completely unbothered since she’s locked in with the Aces for the foreseeable future. But she says it’s always exciting and good for the league to have some buzz. A lot of big pieces were moved and one of them just happened to land on her team. A’ja has spoken about playing with Candace Parker in the past and that came to fruition with the former champion and MVP signing to play with the Aces earlier this month. The New York Liberty made the biggest splash though by adding Jonquel Jones, Courtney Vandersloot, and Breanna Stewart. If the Aces and the Liberty end up squaring off in the WNBA Finals this season with that much firepower between them, I’m all for it.
The same way she watched the W’s free agency period from the sidelines, A’ja was content to sit and enjoy the show that was the NBA trade deadline. She said while she understands the business side of things, she ultimately just wants to see guys happy and in situations that they want to be in. She also pointed out that the drama adds a level of suspense to the league as well and thinks these moves are going to give us some great basketball over the second half of the season. At the end of the day, it’s all about the hoops for her.
I also asked A’ja about the WNBA presence at All-Star. Arike Ogunbowale and Diamond DeShields participated in last night’s Celebrity Game and of course, with A’ja being one of the Starry athletes, her name will be in lights all weekend. She says it’s a great thing when the W and the NBA come together because ultimately they all represent the same game and should be working in unison to amplify the sport in every way possible. We went on to talk about A’ja playing host this summer at WNBA All-Star weekend when the game makes its way back to Vegas. She says she’s going to try to not get too crazy but we know if it’s one thing A’ja is going to do it’s have a great time. Still no word on if the “4 Shots In” championship parade prerequisite will be in effect for All-Star but be prepared just in case.
I’m sure A’ja is enjoying just being able to soak everything in during the weekend as she said she’s looking forward to all the events. But just like when I spoke with her in Chicago for WNBA All-Star last July, her favorite part of the weekend is partaking in the Starry Interactive Fan Zone experience. Getting up close and personal with fans, especially young female fans, and being accessible is important to her as she lives by the mantra, “If you can see her, you can be her.” A’ja wants to be an inspiration and cultivate the next wave of young women who will make an impact. Not just in sports, but in every facet of society. As she continues to grow her presence with brands like Starry, there is no doubt she will make her mark on future generations.