Fresh off her gold medal win, Allisha Gray would eventually love to see a women's professional 3x3 league stateside

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·Yahoo Sports Contributor
·3 min read
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Allisha Gray helped Team USA secure a gold medal in the 3x3 baskbetll debut at the 2020 Tokyo Games. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Allisha Gray helped Team USA secure a gold medal in the 3x3 baskbetll debut at the 2020 Tokyo Games. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Before the Tokyo Games, Dallas Wings star Allisha Gray hadn't really grasped the popularity of 3x3 basketball. Now that she is a part of the team to win the first-ever Olympic gold medal, expect her to advocate for more exposure of the format from here on out.

"I just hope it grows more and more and just gets bigger and bigger until a point where one day women can be professional 3x3 players," she told Yahoo Sports. "It could be like how the WNBA is professional five-on-five, 3x3 is just professional women 3x3. So I just hope the game can grow to that one day."

Alongside fellow WNBA players Stefanie Dolson (Chicago Sky), Kelsey Plum and Jackie Young (Las Vegas Aces), Gray defeated Russia 18-15 Wednesday evening at the Aomi Urban Sports Park in Tokyo. You could say it was a pretty successful run of play leading up to the final contest, securing wins against Mongolia, Romania, Italy, and China once, France and Russia twice and a lone defeat against Japan in the final group stage contest. Luckily, they'd secured a bye in the semis by that point.

Though formal 3x3 regulations were adopted by the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) 14 years ago, it was only played on the Olympic stage for the first time this summer. It's quick and energetic cadence made it an early favorite among viewers stateside, and Gray shared with Yahoo Sports why she believes audiences tuned in each day, regardless of who was playing.

"I'd say just the pace of the game," said the WNBA's 2017 rookie of the year. "It's a continuous pace. The games are short, but they're so fast paced that it's like if you take a break from the TV, the game would be over. So I think it's just the continuous and fast pace of the game."

Applauding Nike's support of female athletes

A Nike athlete, Gray praised The Swoosh for their ongoing support for women's basketball and female athletes in general. In just the past several months, Nike has welcomed seven new athletes into the WNBA, inked a partnership with USWNT midfielder Rose Lavelle and teamed up with tennis ace Naomi Osaka to open a Expanded Play Academy to introduce more girls in Los Angeles and Haiti to sport.

When asked what she likes most about the brand, Gray toted Nike's attitude on "allowing athletes to have a platform" as a large catalyst. 

"They also support even on the social side, with like the Black Lives Matter movement," she added. "So, I would say the biggest thing is just the platform and the voice they're able to give athletes to speak and be themselves."

Shortly after Team USA 5x5 women's basketball defeated Japan 90-75 to capture a seventh straight gold medal, Nike released an incredibly inspiring ad celebrating the ladies for "continuing to represent the best of us."

Dozens of female athletes have graced the pages of magazines wearing Nike gear, starred in Nike commercials and done collaborations with the company over the last several decades. For reasons we definitely concur, one woman tops Gray's list as her biggest inspiration.

"I’d have to say Serena Williams. Just the way she carries herself – and the fact that she doesn’t care what you say about her – she’s just going to be herself. People are really critical of her, but you can just tell she just brushes it off her shoulders and goes on with her day. She’s one of the greatest female athletes of all time – so yeah, I love Serena Williams – she is definitely my favorite athlete."

After a short break, Gray and the Wings resume the 2021 campaign with a home game against the Connecticut Sun on August 15.

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