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Add time for tea to your calendar because A and Phee are back on the mic.
Las Vegas Aces star A'ja Wilson, the reigning MVP, and the Minnesota Lynx's Napheesa Collier, who finished fifth in MVP voting, are returning for season 2 of their popular "Tea with A & Phee" podcast during the 2021 WNBA season.
The duo launched the show with assistance from Through the Lens while in the WNBA bubble and it quickly became a fan favorite. Now, they're partnering with Just Women's Sports, which has rapidly expanded its podcast offerings in a market primed for growth, and aiming to release episodes bi-weekly through the regular season. (JWS is also a media partner of Yahoo Sports.)
"When Napheesa and A’ja came out with 'Tea with A and Phee,' we thought it was awesome. We were obsessed with it," JWS CEO and founder Haley Rosen told Yahoo Sports. "We immediately had it on our radar and wanted to explore ways to work together. This has been a long time coming, and we are just beyond excited and stoked to team up with them."
The pod is now the third in the JWS catalogue after the company announced "Snacks" with USWNT players Sam Mewis and Lynn Williams last week. Women's sports-forward podcasts are still a rarity, particularly on large platforms and certainly from two of a league's brightest young stars.
"We want this to be the basketball podcast that people talk about it. That’s our goal," Rosen said.
Wilson, Collier naturals in WNBA hit podcast
Wilson and Collier, the respective 2018 and 2019 Rookies of the Year, deliver a natural cadence with insight into the WNBA, games and life as 20-something professionals. They, as the saying goes, spill the tea.
Their authentic bond is clear in their praise for each other. Collier called Wilson's laugh infectious, whether she's telling Candace Parker her then-newborn daughter "still has the tags on it; fresh," or coldly calling Kendrick Perkins' scoring average "a good GPA." Wilson said Collier provides a drier, but no less funny, humor, quiet confidence and "always keeps it 100."
While they've played with and against each other since their U19 Team USA days, they weren't particularly close. It was Collier's fiancé, Alex Bazzell, who initiated the idea. What "was just so foreign" a thought at first now elicits a beaming, bubbly reaction from a player who barely uses her social media accounts.
"It’s really cool. I’m almost more proud of it than my basketball [career]. Like yeah, I’m a podcaster, no big deal," Collier told Yahoo Sports. "I think just because basketball is something I’ve always done. It’s so familiar. I’m used to getting recognized for basketball, not for a podcast. So it’s just something new and it’s so fun and different. It feels cool that people are listening to it."
The ratings on Apple, almost entirely five stars, are littered with comments about the chemistry and funny vibes from a mix of established fans and new ones. It provides a showcase for the league's personalities that remains dormant on the women's side.
Steph Curry, Kevin Durant headlined season 1
Wilson and Collier, who will each turn 25 this fall, recorded the podcast from the wubble when they found time. The team at Bazzell's company, Through the Lens, helped put it together. Collier, who is also involved in the company, called them "unsung heroes."
The first episode introduced the young talents, taking listeners through a candid timeline of college, draft night and Rookie of the Year seasons. Their honesty — Collier spoke openly about feeling vindicated when she won ROY after not going No. 1 in the draft — opened up a new side to players who are often framed more as "woman" than "competitive athlete."
Then they brought on big hitters, which Collier credited to Wilson's connections. Parker joined from inside the wubble and Elena Delle Donne from outside of it. Steph Curry, Kevin Durant and Damian Lillard, who spilled on if he never wins a title and when he'd drop a new EP, were all involved.
"For us [at JWS], we always say, women’s sports is bigger than any one gender. It’s for women and it’s for men," Rosen said. "I think bringing men into the fold to talk women’s sports and sports and talk about what’s going on, we love that. We want to do more of that."
Every guest spilled new tea thanks to a relaxed, comfortable conversation vibe the hosts plan to keep.
More structure, merch help WNBA tea
The pod will still have weekly guests and focus on whatever comes up in the hosts' lives. All involved said joining JWS will give the podcast stability and a more professional vibe. It's also important to both young stars that it's with a women's platform.
"Last season, we were figuring everything out on the fly," Wilson wrote in an email to Yahoo Sports. "With a year under our belt, we were looking for a partner who could take this show to the next level. JWS came to us with an opportunity to put more muscle behind our show — from marketing and promotion to production support and more. I know this partnership is going to give our audience the best experience and I’m really excited about that."
The company felt comfortable taking it on after hiring Ashley Braband, a 13-year ESPN veteran producer who produced SportsNation and later served as showrunner for "Always Late w/Katie Nolan." Her expertise and knowledge of what works in sports and what doesn't gives Rosen confidence they can help "Tea" prosper.
It fits the authentic, athlete-driven content at the core of JWS. They can utilized the channels they already established, such as newsletters and social, to promote the show in ways Wilson and Collier previously couldn't.
That also includes merchandise and they have a drop more tea they'd like to spill: word is there will be teacups.
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