LAS VEGAS — The 2023 WNBA All-Star game was what you would’ve expected. Lot of open lanes. Lot of open shots. 4-pointers being shot. But in the end, it was Team Stewart that defeated Team Wilson, 143-127.
But it wasn’t really about the game itself; it felt like a celebration of the league. Fans flocked to Las Vegas to meet their favorite players, mingle with fellow fans, and watch them perform their craft.
There was WNBA Live, a fan event that was held for the second straight year. It was said to be “a way to experience the game of basketball through a celebration of basketball culture, featuring interactive events including meet-and-greets with the WNBA’s biggest stars, live panels, trivia, personalized WNBA merchandise, fan skills challenges, and viewing parties.” This went on throughout all weekend and there was so much enthusiasm from the fans.
The Welcome To Las Vegas Sign was turned orange in honor of All-Star Weekend. A’ja Wilson was prominently featured in Mandalay Bay. ESPN had some billboards of the all-star game. The W is growing and will continue to grow in the future.
We had the Skills Challenge as well as the historic three-point shootout that Sabrina Ionescu destroyed. While it was competition, everyone was happy for Sabrina busting out the greatest shooting display most of us will ever see. It was a breathtaking sight; I was personally frozen after around the 8th shot as if time stopped.
Friday night was the Orange Carpet event where the ladies (and some men) showed their fits. It’s always thrilling to see these stars in another element and everybody seemed to have a good time. I mean, wouldn’t anybody want to look good while feeling good?
Meanwhile, the WNBA All-Star game had these rules in effect:
As far as the game went, we saw the players showcase their stuff, which is what the fans want, anyway.
Sabrina didn’t cool off from Friday as she sank 4-pointers like they were lay-ups. Chelsea Gray had some crowd-pleasing passes for the home crowd. Rookie Aliyah Boston was having fun as she scored the first bucket of the game. Jewell Loyd was hitting from everywhere (more on her later). And Kehlani performed to the delight of fans and players alike.
What stood out to me, though, is the early start and just a free and happy Brittney Griner. It was just so good to see her out on the court and even though I had seen her play a few times this season, this one felt different because she’s among the best of the best in the women’s game and a lot of eyeballs are seeing this. She certainly didn’t disappoint as she made her second slam dunk this week.
Jewell Loyd won MVP after scoring 31 points (an all-star game record after breaking the previous record of 30 both held by Kelsey Plum and the great Maya Moore). She also converted a mind-blowing 10 threes on her way to getting a much bigger MVP trophy.
But we all missed Brittney Griner last year. She was back to where she belonged. Tributes were nice but we were only getting these because she was wrongfully detained. I think the answers that Kelsey Plum and Nneka Ogwumike summed up how we all felt during the weekend.
Brittney Griner was back. The vibes were good. We were all smiles. And for this weekend, we forgot all of life’s problems and celebrated women’s basketball in the best way possible.