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Chelsea Gray on Becky Hammon joining Aces: ‘I’m super excited’

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The Las Vegas Aces point guard spoke with Yahoo Sports WNBA writer Cassandra Negley about the team’s new head coach and how it will impact her play on the court. Chelsea joined Yahoo Sports on behalf of the 2022 McDonald’s All American Games.

Video Transcript

- We're here with Olympic gold medalists and Las Vegas Aces point guard Chelsea Gray. Chelsea, you're here today to talk about the final rosters for the 2022 McDonald's All-American Games.

But first, there's a lot going on in the WNBA this winter. Becky Hammon is the new Aces head coach. Big hire for a lot of different reasons. What has you excited about having Becky as your head coach?

- I'm super excited to have her as the next head coach. I think I can learn from her, her experiences. She's done amazing things for women's basketball and women in sport. And people aspiring to be in her foot steps. She's been a trailblazer.

On the court, like, she was an amazing player. I think, just little tidbits and little nuggets that she's going to be able to tell me throughout the season is going to be great.

CASSANDRA NEGLEY: She's one of the WNBA's great point guards. What will that relationship be like for you two and how will it translate to the court and success this year?

CHELSEA GRAY: I'm going to ask her so many questions and bounce so many ideas off of her. I know she's going to challenge me as a player, as a person. So I think it'll be a great relationship. It's already starting to form and get better each time that we're able to compete with each other.

CASSANDRA NEGLEY: Of course WNBA free agency is underway. You were a free agent the past few years. You got to take that trip to Vegas in 2020, Uninterrupted, documented it.

You had talked at the time about how that was a little rare. WNBA players weren't taking those trips. We're seeing that a lot this year. You've tweeted about it. What is it like for you to kick back and see all of that happening, and players can really make career decisions based on what they see in-person?

- One thing for sure is that I'm not stressed. I'm not. Being on those phone calls and in those meetings. It's a big decision. It's a big part of your career, especially unrestricted, free agents. If you're sure where you want to be then, you know, sign the contract. Be where it makes you happy.

But I think it's important for organizations to say why and see where you're going to play, where are you going to sleep, where are you going to train. Like, who are you going to be around. You know, you see it a lot and you hear about it a lot on the men's side. But it never was really discussed on the women's side, it was a little bit more hush-hush.

And so, when I did the documentary with Uninterrupted, it was basically like, OK, this is what's happening step by step and during this process and why not showcase it, why not talk about it? That was kind of my thing. Like, it doesn't have to be hush-hush. We know things are shaking, things are happening behind the scenes, but why not just be out in the open with it? The athletes have the power. So why not?

- When we talked to A'ja Wilson in early December, she said, quote, "She was probably going to get on Chelsea Gray's nerves in a few months. So hopefully we can get in the gym together." Pretty soon after that we know she did probably get on your nerves because it was that South Carolina Duke game. So we're wondering, did you unblock her from Twitter and when are you guys going to start getting ready for the Aces season?

- Um. I never blocked her on Twitter. I blocked her from my phone for a few, for like an hour.

- Whoa.

[LAUGHTER]

- Um. Ugh, she gets on my nerves, but got to love her. But we both been training and getting ready for the Aces season. We're both preparing in our own ways right now and then we'll come together.

CASSANDRA NEGLEY: So back to the All-American game. You played in the game in 2010. You won the skills competition. What was that experience like for you?

- It was an amazing experience first of all, getting the call and getting the letter in the mail. Like, social media wasn't big when I got selected. So like it's not like I kind of found out and speculated over Instagram and Twitter. I was waiting for things in the mail or phone calls. My parents were waiting.

It was a special moment for me and my family. It was an amazing experience. The people that I was at the All-American game with, you look down the road now, I'm still competing against some of those players. And so it just speaks to the longevity of how good and how great these players wanted to be. And so when I look back on it, it's a blessing to be able to represent my high school at that time.

CASSANDRA NEGLEY: The 2022 rosters are out. There are 48 players who are experiencing what you just talked about. What are you most excited about for this group of players, as they take that next step and look forward to the game and collegiate careers?

- Just enjoying the experience. You know, people are so much like looking forward to the next thing, the next thing. But I think it's important to cherish the moment. You only have one opportunity and one chance to be at McDonald's All-American. And so when you go into that game, just embracing it. Just try to create your own path, be your own person, and have fun with it.

I had a ton of fun, like you said, I was doing the skills challenge. I was a nervous wreck beforehand because it was a huge stage. But after that, I just had fun with it, competing against people going to the McDonald's All-American house, doing all those different things with those group of women was special.

- Well, Chelsea, thank you for joining us. We appreciate you fitting it into your very busy offseason schedule.

- Thank you so much for having me.