The WNBA Finals Were Dramatic!! But Luckily, Gays Love Drama

WNBA Finals 2023 left to right, top row: A'ja Wilson, Jonquel Jones, Breanna Stewart. Left to right, bottom row: Sad Colson and Kierstan Bell, Chelsea Gray, and Syd Colson.

The 2023 WNBA Finals. Left to Right, Top Row: A’ja Wilson by Sarah Stier/Getty Images, Jonquel Jones by Sarah Stier/Getty Images, Breanna Stewart by Sarah Stier/Getty Images. Left to Right, Top Row: Syd Colson and Kierstan Bell via Las Vegas Aces, Chelsea Gray via Las Vegas Aces, Syd Colson by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

Whew, we had a time last night!! The 2023 WNBA Finals have come to a close, and they ended in the most dramatic way possible.

The Las Vegas Aces, after facing brutal last minute injuries sidelining two of their starters (including last year’s finals MVP and queer basketball legend-in-the-making, Chelsea Gray), managed to hold their composure under historic circumstances and walked way with a one point lead at the buzzer to become the first WNBA team in 21 years to be back-to-back champions. From the Aces bench, including Syd Colson and Kierstan Bell, who rose to the occasion when their team needed them both, to Liberty stars Breanna Stewart and Jonquel Jones — of course whenever the sports drama has reached its hottest temperature, you can bet the gays are the center of it. After all, the WNBA is the gayest league for the reason. 😉

So Natalie, Carmen, and Heather got together to discuss the 2023 WNBA Finals, along with what’s coming up for next year! It’s only roughly 195 days until the next W season. Not too early to start counting, right?

Heather: The Aces won the 2023 WNBA Championship in Game Four, without Candace Parker, Chelsea Gray, and Kiah Stokes. How are you feeling with this surreal ending we could have never, ever predicted?

Carmen: I literally texted Natalie on Tuesday night that Becky Hammon had suggested to the press that she might start Syd Colson and I almost threw my phone across the couch (Syd I am sorry! I never should have doubted you, I love you! A national championship and now two WNBA rings — that’s THE FACE OF THE LEAGUE right there!!!). I am huge Aces fan, and I have spent the better part of the last two years calling Chelsea Gray my fantasy wife. I was devastated by her injury, and worried that an Aces bench that was out of practice for game-time scenarios wouldn’t be able to raise the bar during a high stakes finals game. I have never been more happy to be wrong.

Natalie: Listen, I know the Las Vegas Aces players were on Twitter late last night dunking on everyone who doubted them… and no doubt, if I’d been regularly using social media, I would’ve been a prime target for a colorful @ from Syd or A’ja or whomever because after the loss of Chelsea and Kiah, I definitely thought we were headed back to Vegas for a Game 5.

Heather: It is honestly amazing that the Aces — the Aces!!!! — are celebrating like they were the underdogs in this series. THE ACES.

Natalie: I said this when the injury report was released the day before: I thought they could withstand the loss of Chelsea Gray… as difficult as that is to imagine… but losing Kiah Stokes? She’s not giving you alot offensively — they even subbed Sabrina on her, defensively, in Game 3 — but she opens things up for A’ja in a way that so many don’t appreciate. I really thought they were in trouble.

I did not think they could win until, right before the game, Carolyn Peck does this “if I was the coach of the Aces” thing…and I get fired up…and I think, “okay, well, maybe the Aces can pull this out?”

Heather: I agree with both of you completely. I kept thinking about Natalie’s two-year worry about the Aces short bench, too. Like that the bench players just aren’t conditioned as well as players who see a lot of minutes. And the Liberty have run teams into the ground in the late third and early fourth quarters. That speech from Carolyn Peck. She got HERSELF so fired up that she stood up, and then I stood up, and I could hear Chiney going to church in the background. Right up until that point, I thought FOR SURE we’d be going to a Game Five.

When Chelsea Gray went down, I honestly thought I was going to be sick — and not just because of the way ESPN just casually followed her into the locker room where she was in agonizing pain. For me, at that point, I just knew in my guts the Aces deserved it and might not get it. And boy they showed me!

Carmen: I spent hours, literally hours on Sunday and Monday scrolling every social media account for even one update on Chelsea Gray. I thought it was over. Not because the Aces didn’t earn that ring, in my mind there was no doubt that they did, but because the cruelty of random fate and injury had done them in.

Natalie: So let’s start with the Aces: what do you think they did right… not just in Game 4 but throughout this series? What put them over the top?

Carmen: For me, the Aces championship story in these finals runs through Alysha Clark. What they did right was get Alysha Clark in the off-season.

I don’t know if Becky Hammon specifically knew when she got her that AC had spent years as Stewie’s practice partner for the Storm when and knew her moves like the back of her hand, but there was no better defensive match up for Breanna Stewart than the person whose job it was to learn her every move for season-after-season.

Natalie: That’s such a good point, Carmen. Her defense was so crucial last night… and, boy did I dissolve into a pile of tears during her post-game interview with Holly Rowe when she talked about her dad.

What do you think, Heather? What gave the Aces the edge in this series?

Heather: For me, the difference between the Aces and the Liberty in these finals was, frankly, mental toughness. The Aces were just better prepared to play a Championship, which is so disappointing from a Liberty perspective because they brought in vets with so much Championship experience. But, you know, from the second the Aces stepped on the floor in Game One, it was evident that they were in the headspace to own the series.

Losing MVP had the exact opposite effect on A’ja Wilson than it did on Alyssa Thomas, and the Aces were able to back up that belief in her in a way that the Sun weren’t for AT there at the end. It’s kind of amazing that the Aces were able to really cultivate that chip on their shoulder, as the most talented and deeply resourced team in the league, but aspirational too.

They also were able to exploit those weaknesses the Liberty have shown all season — and in some cases, for several seasons. The decision to create a whole set of plays that allowed Jackie Young to get switched off Laney and take it at Sabrina, for example. I’m going to give Sun coach Stephanie White some credit here: She drafted a blueprint that showed how to make Sabrina’s weaknesses GLARING, and the Aces simply ran with and mastered that.

And then, also! When we talked about the Commissioner’s Cup, I think we all agreed that the Liberty bench won that game for them. But now, like Carmen said, it was the Aces bench that came through big. Syd Colson with five fouls in the WNBA Finals?! Come on!

Natalie: So, to piggyback a bit off your point, Heather: I remember back in 2009, the Lakers are in the MNBA Finals and they go up two games on the Orlando Magic and, at this point, no team has come back from that big a deficient in the Finals so everyone’s ready to crown the Lakers king…except Kobe Bryant who looks morose after Game 2.

Back in the press room, some reporter asks him why he’s not smiling or why he’s not happy… and Kobe says, “what’s there to be happy about? Job’s not finished.” That’s the mood that the Aces, but especially A’ja Wilson seemed to approach this series with… just each and every day, they keep pressing like they still had work to do.

Heather: Absolutely.

Carmen: A’ja also talked about that in the press room after the game! She was saying that over the course of the season, she’d been hooked up with Cynthia Cooper and Sheryl Swoopes, two women who were a part of one of a previous WNBA back-to-back championships (the late 90s and early 00s Houston Comets had a historic FOUR-peat!!). The reporter asked A’ja what words of wisdom did Cynthia and Sheryl impress upon her. Her answer was simple: “Each game, be better than your game before.”

That feels completely aligned with what you’re saying Natalie. The work was not done. Keep going. Don’t get comfortable.

Natalie: But the other thing — and I think the most significant piece — is that the team has vocal leadership. Chelsea Gray has some sort of foot injury… we don’t know yet what it is… but she’s out there on the floor, with her scooter, trying to lift her team up during their practice. She’s joking around with Kiah Stokes and challenging her to a shooting contest. On game day, she’s still in the huddle coaching up her team. Back in games 1 and 2, you saw that with Candace Parker, too. She can’t play but she’s coaching her teammates when they come to the sidelines, pointing out vulnerabilities of the Liberty.

New York has some great players — future first ballot hall of famers — but they don’t have any vocal leaders, and that’s the whole ball game.

Heather: That is 100% it.

Does it feel to y’all like the right team won? That’s what it feels like to me. That’s not always — or even often — a thing in sports. For me, the Liberty are my team, but I would have been absolutely heartbroken if the Aces hadn’t won. They deserved this.

Carmen: I think… I actually went into the finals having accepted in my heart that the Liberty could win it all. In the regular season match ups, they beat the Aces 3-2 in a best of five (if you include the Commissioner’s Cup, and I absolutely think you should). If the Liberty had straight out played the Aces, and they had the potential to do so, then I would have been happy for Jonquel Jones. I would have been happy to give it to the Liberty and see this rivalry between the two teams unfold.

But once the games got going it felt like, if the Aces were going to lose, they were going to lose because of the once-in-a-generation injuries. Literally never before in the WNBA has a team lost two starters due to injury between finals games. And that would have been much harder to swallow for me. Getting out played is one thing, but losing because of something that was out of your control?

Natalie: So, I don’t know that I feel like there’s a right team… but in these playoffs, the Aces were the better team. I think we all came into the playoffs, having seen how the Liberty had played the Aces during the regular season, believing that New York had a real chance of winning the championship. They may have split the series but Las Vegas won close games, New York won in blow outs.

But the playoffs kicked off and the Aces just kicked it into another gear. They went into Playoff Mode and just looked so good. I don’t think the Liberty shifted into that mode — which isn’t to say they did poorly. They advanced through a minefield, having to play the Mystics and the Sun, but they looked like the team they’d been.

So, I don’t know if there’s a right team… but you want the better team to win these things, right? And if the Aces had lost because of the injuries to Gray and Stokes, I would’ve felt a way about the Liberty victory.

Heather: Exactly! I expected that we’d get the same Liberty team that we saw after the All-Star break through the end of the regular season — but that’s not who we got at all. We got the earlier season Liberty but with JJ playing lights out. (Laney was always playing lights out.) In addition to what went right for the Aces, I’m so curious what y’all think went wrong with the Liberty. Breanna Stewart’s never lost a championship series that she played in (her team lost one when she was at with her Achilles rupture). I hardly recognized her on offense in these entire playoffs. To a lesser extent, that was true of Vandersloot too.

Carmen: My hope for the Liberty is that this is a learning experience and a stage setting for a big comeback in the seasons to come. I don’t know if any one single went wrong beyond — they don’t have that history yet together as a team. This a group of players where three members of their starting five just got put together in the off-season. Now yes, those three players come with elite championship pedigree. But together? They are still new to this, as a team. They have to find that group mettle, I think.

Heather: I think that’s so true.

Natalie: Last night I saw a stat from Kevin Pelton of ESPN that noted that Stewie’s effective field goal percentage over the course of these playoffs was the lowest of any 10 game stretch of her entire career. HER WHOLE CAREER… she’s never done worse than this.

Carmen: Wow!

Heather: Somehow that stat makes me feel better because I kinda thought maybe I was just being too critical. To me, it felt like Stewie was 5 for a thousand in these playoffs from the field.

Natalie: We’ll have exit interviews with the Liberty soon so, maybe, we’ll find out for sure what’s going on… but I wouldn’t be surprised if she was nursing some sort of injury.

Heather: I had also wondered if maybe she was mentally somewhere else because her wife’s about to have a baby? Or if the MVP blowback got inside her head? It just hasn’t made any sense.

Natalie: That’s exactly what I was going to say. I think the MVP announcement hurt her more than even Alyssa Thomas.

Heather: I think there’s a lot of truth there.

Natalie: Stewie is not Sabrina Ionescu…. and what I mean by that is that Stewie doesn’t walk through the world oblivious to what’s going on around her.

Heather: LOL it’s true though!

Natalie: Sabrina thinks, for instance, that she earned that NBA 2k24 cover — and even now if you asked her, she’d still say that. Stewie’s introspective enough to look at the vote totals in the MVP race and to hear the chatter from other players in the league, commentators and even people on social media… and start to doubt whether or not she’d earned it.

And I think that messed with her, mentally, a bit.

Heather: Absolutely. The thing about Sabrina — I mean, last night’s Aces sign-off is exactly indicative of what you’re saying. Sabrina and her whole nighty-night thing. Twice this season, she did that after players left the floor with serious injuries. Most recently with Chelsea Gray, and then earlier this season, in a June game against the Dream. I just want to shake her! Like what are you DOING.

I see Syd Colson getting some flack for responding the way she did — when it’s Sabrina who should be getting questioned there! And, as you said, that’s not Stewie. She’s way more aware than all that.

Natalie: Listen, I love a shit-talker… but there have to be moments that humble you, as a player… and watching someone go down to injury should be one of those moments.

Heather: Agree!

Carmen: ABSOLUTELY. And Syd talked about it this morning as well, this started with Sabrina trash talking to Syd — specifically. Syd just got the last word.

Heather: I’m sorry I cannot get over the fact that the whole world is talking about lesbian legend Syd Colson today. The literal reverend of WNBA queer weddings.

Natalie: How can the world not be talking about the face of the league?!

Carmen: THE!! FACE!! OF!! THE!! LEAGUE!!

I am so proud of Syd, I could burst. And then she went on IG Live for nearly two hours last night? I watched the entire press conference and the Aces champagne party and photo shoot, all from Syd. A true community service.

Heather: Hahaha!

Natalie: I will say, though, there have been a couple of moments where I felt like, “okay, I love the Aces but y’all doing too much.” Like, I love Syd… but don’t talk harp on Sabrina’s shit-talking when you have Kelsey Plum on your team. Sabrina’s timing was inappropriate, obviously, but let’s be for real.

Heather: Was KP voted biggest trash talker in that Athletic poll, Natalie? I can’t remember.

Natalie: KP was top 3, behind Courtney Williams and Diana Taurasi.

Heather: Yeah that checks out.

Speaking of Kelsey Plum, Natalie, you saw her comments about everything the Aces have overcome this season. Her list was… interesting. “We’ve been hurt, sued, arrested – you name it.” Some of those things? Not like the others. I am so curious what you think about that comment.

Natalie: I was so pissed when I saw that video. So pissed.

I know, in the run-up to games, players and coaches say things to get the team fired up… things you wouldn’t say in mixed company… and that feels like one of those things.

Heather: I am so relieved to hear you say that.

Natalie: Like, injuries are their own thing right? The Aces have definitely dealt with that, but “sued and arrested?” Like, WTF, Kelsey!

Heather: Yes!

Natalie: We shouldn’t mistake accountability for adversity.

Carmen: That part. Heavy on that part.

Heather: Nailed it in one sentence. I’m with you that the Aces were probably trying every kind of mental storytelling tactic in the world to get themselves into the brainspace to believe they could win without Chelsea — but some of those calls are coming from inside the house, KP.

Natalie: Riquna Williams was arrested for some shit she did. She did that… that’s no one else’s fault. No one’s penalizing you unfairly. She did something stupid and she got arrested for it, and not for the first time, either!

The Aces are being sued for some shit that that front office did. Y’all lost a draft pick, your coach was suspended for two games… that’s because of something THEY did. The Aces aren’t being unfairly targeted. No one’s trying to punish them unfairly. They did this to themselves.

Heather: Yep, all that! And, frankly, if the Aces weren’t both incredibly successful and otherworldly charismatic, the blowback for that second thing would have been much worse. I hope it still does get worse, actually, not for the Aces players but for Becky and the front office because what they did to Dearica Hamby is not okay.

Natalie: 100%.

Heather: Becky Hammon is a brilliant coach — and she’s also benefitting enormously from the Aces players charisma.

Natalie: And what made me the most upset about what Kelsey said… Dearica did an interview this week where it’s clear that the thing she wants most of all is just an apology. Like just some acknowledgement that she was treated unfairly.

Heather: The whole vibe from Dearica, this entire time, has been plain and simple heartbreak.

Natalie: Absolutely. And so to see her just cause trivialized this way, by someone who I’m sure she thought was her friend… I just really hate that and I hope that Kelsey apologizes.

Heather: Me too. It’s extra weird because Kelsey was so vocally supportive in the beginning. I just hope Hamby knows there’s people out here who can both cheer the Aces championship for the players, and still want accountability for what that organization did to her.

Sometimes I get the impression that Kelsey Plum just starts talking and can’t stop.

Natalie: I think you’re right, Heather. I hope that she apologizes to Dearica, preferably publicly but, at the very least, privately. I mean, if I was KP and I was just recently married to some dude in the NFL… I would be very concerned about how my team treated other women who experience unexpected pregnancies.

Heather: MMHMM.

Natalie: Since we’re talking about things that pissed me off, now seems a good time to talk about the new coaching hires in the WNBA which have me mad for different reasons. The Chicago Sky have made it official: Teresa Weatherspoon, the New York Liberty legend, will be their new head coach.

And the Phoenix Mercury have hired Nate Tibbetts… whose qualifications to be the highest paid coach in the WNBA seem to be that he’s: 1. the son of a famed high school girls coach and 2. a girl dad.

Which would you like to talk about first?

Heather: Yes, good. I have drawn up a little chart.

A four quadrant chart that is hand drawn by Heather and has T-Spoon in the quadrant for Excited and Deserved, and "white man" under angry and not deserved.

Let’s talk about T-Spoon first so I can do some breathing exercises to prepare to control my rage about TIBBETTS.

Carmen: Heather, this charttttttt!

Heather: So true, right? Just correct math/science.

Carmen: That’s a peer-reviewed researched academic journal article right there. The fact that Nate Tibbetts of… my daddy was a girls high school basketball coach fame… is now the highest paid coach in the league? It’s galling on every level.

Natalie: What do y’all think about the hire? How do you think T-Spoon will be able to handle the mess that James Wade left in Chicago?

Carmen: I am so excited to see T-Spoon coach Kahleah Copper and Courtney Williams. It is a level of Black Queer Excellence that sends me into a fever.

Like, ok I am a stereotype of myself, but imagine the three of them all next to each other?? And tell me you don’t break out into a sweat.

Heather: I am personally so thrilled for T-Spoon and for the Sky players. Her whole career and mentality are going to fit in so well with that scrappy underdog trash-talking roster. Exactly what you’re saying, Carmen, and really you can even zoom that back to what you were mentioning about A’ja earlier.

When she wanted to talk to someone about back-to-back championships, what did she do? She called Dawn Staley who connected her with Sheryl Swoopes. Those are the originals, you know? Those are are 96 Olympic Team pre-WNBA heroes! T-Spoon is in that WNBA class, the 1997 one, the originals. She is part of that C. Vivian Stringer to Carolyn Peck to Dawn Staley lineage of Black women who have done it all and have more to offer these current W players than anyone. I think there’s going to be an adjustment period, because Chicago is a — to quote Padma Lakshmi — messy, messy, mess, mess. But I also know she’s got what it takes to turn that locker room into a real sisterhood.

Natalie, you said the hiring made you mad for a different reason than Tibbets, which is absolutely the name of a cartoon mouse, in my opinion.

Natalie: I think Becky Hammon and Teresa Weatherspoon should have coaching jobs in the NBA. Full stop. I don’t think the WNBA is a step down from the MNBA but I think if you put in the work at an organization, you should be able to rise up through the ranks and that’s clearly not happening for women in the MNBA.

I’ll focus on T-Spoon: While with the New Orleans Pelicans, she was a players’ coach… like all the players just had nothing but great things to say about her… and she developed a particularly strong bond with their star Zion Williamson.

Heather: I’m glad you’re talking about this, Natalie, because I always forget the MNBA exists.

Natalie: The actual coach of the Pelicans was intimidated by that bond, and she was forced out of New Orleans because of it.

Heather: Good lord!

Natalie: And this is noteworthy because the critique that men make about female head coaches is that the players won’t follow a woman, right? But in New Orleans, they all love T-Spoon. They would’ve run through walls for her. So she’s proven herself — she’s disproven that canard — and still, she gets dismissed.

Heather: And at the exact same time some guy who’s never had a head coaching job or coached women at all is coming into the league making more money than anyone.

Natalie: RIGHT!

Heather: Some *white guy.

Natalie: It’s like salt in the wound, Heather. Muffett McGraw said it well, “women are judged on their success, men on their potential.”

Heather: My fists are clenched.


Heather: Yeah, Stacy read that announcement to me and I wanted to punch a hole in the sun. Like the literal sun. Not the CT Sun.

This is the kind of thing that you always know is happening, in terms of race and gender, and sometimes you just get a crystal clear apples-to-apples and it’s just too much to handle. It’s sickening. I wish BG would leave so we could go back to fully hating the Mercury.

Natalie: Longtime WNBA reporter, Michael Voepel, has a great thread on Twitter about this that I’d direct people to…

But, yeah, that Phoenix Mercury coaching selection just left me incensed. I also want to say, because this has gotten left out of the discussion as well: I’m sad for Nikki Blue.

Heather: Me too. Big time. She didn’t even get a chance.

Natalie:This is the second time in her coaching career that she’s been passed over for a job that should’ve been hers and I’m really heartbroken for her.

Heather: I hope she gets the call again, at an organization that’s not as toxic as the Mercury because I think she showed so much poise and promise in an impossible situation.

One of the things that made me laugh the most these past few weeks is that the lead-up to women’s college basketball is full of WNBA draft class predictions for next year. It’s silly for so many reasons because it’s way too early for that, we have no idea how this season will play out, we don’t know who’s gonna stay or go — and, at the same time, it feels pretty awesome because this is always how it is with men’s sports. I honestly never thought I’d see the day this was happening in women’s basketball and that’s thrilling.

Natalie: I saw that…as well…and, especially because the players have that extra COVID year, it’s hard to know what anyone will do in the college game. I can’t imagine Angel Reese leaving LSU early after signing that NIL deal with Reebok. I wonder if the great turnout of that exhibition with DePaul will make Caitlin Clark think twice about leaving. It’s really hard to know.

But what about the players we do know about? Her Hoops Stats has put together a list of 2024 WNBA free agents: who are the most coveted players on that list?

Heather: Well, we’ve been talking all year about the Skylar Diggins-Smith Sweepstakes, and she’s still probably the biggest difference-maker with the most wide-open courting window. BG has already said she’s going back to Phoenix. I’d be shocked if DeWanna didn’t go back to CT to play with AT under Stephanie White, after such an amazing year. Candace is probably done at this point, right? I also find it hard to think about Nneka Ogwumike leaving LA at this point. That probably leaves Jonquel Jones as the biggest question mark in my mind. I do think her best shot at a championship next year is with the Liberty, and I also think the Liberty’s great super team experiment is a whole waste if they don’t lock her up.

Carmen: LMAO wait because I was writing other things but — did Heather just casually throw in mid-paragraph that Candace Parker might retire instead of re-signing? Because that stopped me cold in my tracks.

Heather: I didn’t want to jump scare you! Carmen’s like “Well you did!”

Carmen: You did!!

Heather: Maybe I’m wrong! I want to be wrong! She can play forever in my heart! I told Stacy, straight up, if Candace came back for the playoffs, I was going to stop cheering for the Liberty.

Carmen: I think Candace is coming back for one more season. I don’t think she will end her career on a ring that she won after being sidelined for half a season on an injury. I think if she’s still able to ball, she’ll do one more year as a contract extension, try to help the Aces make a history-making three-peat, and take her big goodbye tour.

Heather: That would be a storybook ending for the ages!

Carmen: It will depend on her physical ability, which of course none of us know about! But I think her heart isn’t done yet, if I had to guess.

Heather: That feels so right to me. You could see it was excruciating for her to not be out there in the playoffs.

Carmen: Yeah I think the hope is always that you get to go out on your own terms, especially at that level. Like thinking about the MNBA, you want Candace Parker to have a going away campaign similar to Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade. You don’t want her to have to go away like Carmelo Anthony — who basically had to make a retirement video after no team would pick him up (not that that would ever happen to Candace! But you know what I mean.)

I have a friend who still talks about how, as a kid, his dad drove him across state lines so that he could see Jordan play one last time. That’s what I want that for Candace.

Heather: I love that.

Natalie: I don’t want to overstate things from last night but it definitely felt like… Candace Parker seemed a bit removed from the celebrations. Certainly nothing like we’d seen from her after the wins in Los Angeles or Chicago. I just remember watching her and seeing her kinda instruct all the other players on how to really take in this moment.

I want her to run it back for one more year. If she can play, I want her to give the league a year to thank her for what she’s done for the game. I mean, it was incredible to see… every time they’d announce something great that A’ja Wilson had done, they’d show a leaderboard of players who’d accomplished the same thing and Candace would always be at the top of the list.

Heather: Yes!

Natalie: She deserves to have what Syl had and what Sue had.

Heather: She absolutely does. And I hope she doesn’t have to share it with DT!

Carmen: Sadly, that might be out of our control.

Natalie: DT’s too stubborn to admit it’s her time to hang it up.

Carmen: But speaking of the Phoenix Mercury, my top two hopes for people leaving their teams are Skylar and BG. Let’s move them literally any place else.

Chicago could use a big, just saying. Imagine Brittney Griner with Kahleah Copper and Courtney Williams, under the mentorship of T-Spoon. IMAGINE IT.

Natalie: Heather, I’m definitely with you on Skylar… I think her, Jordin Canada and Natasha Cloud are the biggest free agents out there and it’s interesting that they’re all playing the same spot.

I think the Liberty have to get Jonquel back. I wonder how much of a toll losing, in back-to-back years against the Aces, has taken on her.

Heather: I am hopeful about JJ because it took her half a season to find her footing in NY and once she did, she was the dominant post player we’ve seen in the most shining moments of her career. I have to think she’ll want to build on that. You know, and as much as Kelsey Plum has mouthed off in the last week, she is right that the Liberty never seemed to get to the place where it was anything more than business for them. KP said, “They’re individual players, they’re not a team” and she’s right.

Carmen: I think Jonquel’s future in New York is so bright. I really do. I hope she stays, I think she’s going to be a franchise player for them — she’s a Black lesbian who’s from the Caribbean, playing on a WNBA team based out of Brooklyn. The fact that marketing department hasn’t yet landed on the obvious just kills me. But I think after her play throughout the backhalf of the season and the playoffs, they absolutely will.

Heather: I just saw something about this exact thing!

Carmen: Oooooooh okay, Shana Renee Stephenson!!! Even more reason JJ should stay. I believe that Shana Renee will get it right. This video is exactly what I’m talking about.

Natalie: So, that’s a wrap on the 2023 WNBA season!! What do we do to keep ourselves busy for the next month or so until the college season starts?

Carmen: I’m excited for the college season! Let’s go Gamecocks! 🐔

Heather: Me too! It’s gonna be a great Lady Vols year, I just feel it!

Natalie: It’s going to be a fight in the SEC for sure! I’ve got the NWSL playoffs to tide me over until college basketball gets back in full swing but I’m looking forward to it.

Thanks for hanging out with me this season, Heather, and shout out to Carmen, for showing us that she’s learned so much about the game in such a short time. This has been great!

Heather: It has been an absolute honor. I have enjoyed every single second. A highlight of my entire year. I adore you both.

Natalie: Remember, if you’re looking for Heather’s work, you can check out her newsletter.

Thank you for doing us! We’ll see you again next season!

Before you go! Autostraddle runs on the reader support of our AF+ Members. If this article meant something to you today — if it informed you or made you smile or feel seen, will you consider joining AF and supporting the people who make this queer media site possible?

Join AF+!


A black biracial, bisexual girl raised in the South, working hard to restore North Carolina's good name. Lover of sports, politics, good TV and Sonia Sotomayor. You can follow her latest rants on Twitter.

Natalie has written 401 articles for us.

Carmen Phillips

Carmen is Autostraddle's Editor-in-Chief and a Black Puerto Rican femme/inist writer. She claims many past homes, but left the largest parts of her heart in Detroit, Brooklyn, and Buffalo, NY. There were several years in her early 20s when she earnestly slept with a copy of James Baldwin’s “Fire Next Time” under her pillow. You can find her on twitter, @carmencitaloves.

Carmen has written 714 articles for us.

Heather Hogan

Heather Hogan is an Autostraddle senior editor who lives in New York City with her wife, Stacy, and their cackle of rescued pets. She's a member of the Television Critics Association, GALECA: The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics, and a Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer critic. You can also find her on Twitter and Instagram.

Heather has written 1718 articles for us.


  1. This convo was so great! So many good points and just enought drama. Thanks for the coverage of the WNBA. I so appreciate others sharing their love for the WNBA, including the good, bad, messy, and gay!

  2. This column has been such a joy all season long, it really got me more deeply invested in the W. Once the dust settled on that great game last night I started getting excited to read your takes on it. Thank you, and please continue to manifest one more season for my fave, CP3!

  3. My theory on Stewie: the baby was already born and she and Marta have kept it under wraps, but it clearly has been a very big (and reasonable!) distraction.

    Thank you all for such a fantastic column. They better give you votes next year!

  4. Thanks for explaining the Night Night reference. I knew it was shade to something but didn’t realize it was for Sabrina. Seeing her gloat at the Dreams game after their player was injured was just so disrespectful and tacky as hell. It really tarnished my view of her as a player.

    I didn’t have a favorite team for this finals, but I’m not gonna lie, the adorable video post of Grey, Clark, and Young playing around on the trampoline during training may have tipped the scales for me on who to root for.

    I was livid after the Phoenix news. Don’t ever read a news piece before going to bed, it will ruin your sleep schedule.

    Is it me or does the broadcast of WNBA games get shotty treatment compared to other sports. So many times this year there were either hot mics, wrong sound feeds, glitchy cameras, or weird looping video during crucial last seconds of the game? I’ve never seen so many bizarre glitches in one season for other sports.

    • B, you aren’t alone. The Aces’ digital team are — if nothing else — masters of levering the stories and personalities of their players to build a fanbase. If the rest of the league was as adept as they are, WNBA players would be household names.

      I’ve seen some of the broadcast issues you mentioned, B, but as a longtime fan, the broadcasts have improved so much over the last few years that I find it hard to complain.

      PS: Do not watch the Mercury presser from earlier today. Just don’t do it to yourself.

      • I love love LOVE this. I wish I would have found this sooner as I am a huge WNBA fan as well. A lot of people were rooting for NY but I wanted the Vegas to win for Candace as I am a fan of hers.

        This was a great conversation regarding the game and finals. It was a lot of talk on Twitter about Sabrina’s night night celebration and it was very premature when your team was down two games. I think most fans of her took it as hate but if you played sports before you should know if you talk smack then you have to back it up with your performance and she didn’t in any of the games. You guys were spot on when you said Stewie is aware of her surroundings whereas Sabrina is oblivious to it and that’s my exception to her. It can be blame on media but I also think she could speak out like Kelsey Plum has in the past as well as when Caitlin Clark did at the Emmy’s. The WNBA is majority Black queer women who don’t get spotlight whose resume is more accomplished than Sabrina’s. Anyway great article and I look forward to reading it next season. Go Chicago Sky!!

  5. i’m going to miss this column so much! maybe as we enter the off season and free agents start getting signed/other logistics shake out, we could get a special edition? far down the road of course!

    not gonna lie, as much as i was rooting for the liberty, after chelsea and kiah were injured, it felt almost wrong for them to win? because you know that the legitimacy and what-ifs would forever be part of the conversation. the liberty also just didn’t seem to have the team communication they needed. there were individual moments of brilliance and of course players going all out, but no synergy

  6. Kelsey Plum really does need to learn to keep some thoughts to herself. I’ll admit I’m upset about the loss, but man her comments about team chemistry bothered me. She has no idea what goes on in the Liberty locker room! Seemed so unnecessary to say when she’d just won. I was so glad my girl JJ was able to dispute it, and it warmed my heart to hear her say the team has been there for her when she’s needed it.

    I personally never expected the Liberty to win it all this year as chemistry does take time to build, and I’m proud of us for getting this far. And I have to say, these players have always talked about how they came together not just to win but to grow the game and they really have done that! Barclays has been hopping, people in my life who know nothing about women’s sports are talking about the Liberty. It’s an exciting time

Contribute to the conversation...

Yay! You've decided to leave a comment. That's fantastic. Please keep in mind that comments are moderated by the guidelines laid out in our comment policy. Let's have a personal and meaningful conversation and thanks for stopping by!