Five years into her WNBA career, all-star guard Kelsey Plum had never experienced an offseason quite like this past one. For starters, it was the first offseason she spent as a WNBA champion.
“It was great,” she said. “You can’t get too comfortable with the success. For me, I’m very hungry. The work wasn’t any different than if we wouldn’t have won.”
Plum is coming off a career year last season, posting a personal-best 20.2 points per game and 5.1 assists per game in 32.8 minutes per contest. Along the way to the ultimate prize, she picked up some other honors including her first all-star selection where she’d be recognized as the game’s MVP, scoring a record 30 points.
With a league championship followed by the first parade celebrating a professional championship in the City of Las Vegas, Plum and the Las Vegas Aces capped off a historic season. However, that title was the prelude to an offseason she’ll remember forever.
As she continues through her career, Plum will forever be mentioned as a member of the famed “Achilles Gang,” a group of athletes who have battled their way back from a torn or ruptured achilles. Her first championship, all-star MVP and first-team WNBA selection all came two full seasons after the 2020 season she missed due to the lower leg injury.
“It was probably the best thing to happen to my career,” she said. “I’ve always been someone to grab the bull by the horns. I felt like it made me sit down, just stop and reset and reprocess how’s my career going and how would I like it to go.”
While rehab presented her with another set of difficulties, she vowed to be back and “better than ever,” as quoted in a 2020 ESPN article. A season later, she’d return to the Aces and claim her first Sixth Player of the Year award in the process.
“Doctors told me [it’d take a couple of years to feel like myself],” she explained. “I just said, ‘I understand that’s been people in the past but that won’t be me.’”
That experience provided Plum with the necessary calluses to maneuver through the many twists and turns professional sports can provide. Another surgery awaited her this offseason, this time it was her shoulder.
A little under a year ago, Plum underwent a minimally invasive arthroscopic procedure for her right labrum.
Considering the level of the procedure, Plum made a full recovery and returned to attempt to run it back with eight returning pieces from last season. Alongside those championship members, several new players were added to the fold including title-winning forwards Candace Parker and Alysha Clark.
More traditions of winning ways were brought into Las Vegas’ infrastructure in late March as six-time Super Bowl Champion Tom Brady bought a stake in the team, a move that was finalized by the WNBA earlier this week.
Plum has been very vocal about her love and support of Brady which resulted in a state of shock for the California product.
“I thought it was a sick joke,” she said with a smile. “ I woke up from a nap and someone said, ‘Tom Brady just bought a share in the Aces.’ I said, ‘Stop playing with me,’ but it was real. It’s just super cool, I think he sees the growth that’s happening and that will continue to happen […] I know he’s going to be around so I’m excited to pick his brain a little bit. I know I thought it was a sick joke but lately life feels like a sick joke in a good way so here we are.”
Speaking of football, Plum tied the knot with then Las Vegas Raiders tight end Darren Waller in early March. Eleven days later, Waller was traded to the New York Giants.
ESPN analyst Robert Griffin III teased that Las Vegas head coach Josh McDaniels was “NOT a romantic” following the blockbuster trade news. To which, Plum succinctly responded, “[Probably because] he wasn’t invited to the wedding lol.”
“To be honest, I’m a biblical person so I know that God doesn’t give us anything we can’t handle,” she said. “He’s for us so it doesn’t really matter what else is against us. I know a lot of people were sad for us but honestly, it’s great for him.
“It’s great for his career, it’s the best thing for him positionally. I’m excited about what they have going in New York — when I can be out there, I will be out there. He knows what time it is too on the other side.”