A'ja Wilson Opens Up on New Book, Caitlin Clark's Future in WNBA, & Fake Support For Women's Hoops

We sat down with WNBA Champion A'ja Wilson to discuss her new book, Caitlin Clark's future in the WNBA, a signature shoe, recent viral comments on WNBA salaries, & more.

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You can say whatever you want about A'ja Wilson but you can never deny her greatness. She's been successful at every level of basketball and has put together an illustrious resume in her first five seasons as a pro. At only 27 years old, she already has two WNBA titles, two league MVPs, two Defensive Player of the Years, a Finals MVP, Rookie of the Year, an Olympic gold medal and five All-Star selections under her belt. To add the cherry on top, she's now a published author of her new book "Dear Black Girls: How to be True to You", a New York Times best seller.

"(People) see me in uniform and think that I'm like a superhero," Wilson tells Complex. "But after reading this book, I guarantee you'll understand that I am a goofy, happy-go-lucky, crazy girl. Hopefully not my last but just a young kid with dyslexia writing a book... I never would have imagined doing it."

Whether she wants to believe it or not, A'ja is a superhero to many. She's earned the title as the face of women's basketball. Her play on the court and demeanor off of it is setting an example for the younger generation of women's basketball players who will soon be in her shoes. She's paving the way for names like JuJu Watkins, Caitlin Clark, Angel Reese, Hannah Hildago, and many others that have been a part of the women's college basketball revolution.

"When we're talking about just the phenoms in college, it's just things that we have never seen before," Wilson says. "I just love watching them because I'm like, 'ha ha you guys get to come see us' and it's fun."

We sat down with the two-time WNBA champion and reigning Finals MVP to talk about her new book, Caitlin Clark's future in the WNBA, a signature shoe, Michael Porter Jr.'s viral comments on WNBA salaries, & more.

This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity. 

So talk to us about your new book. This is your first, right?
Yeah, this is my first book. It's called "Dear Black Girls: How To Be True To You" and I had so much fun writing this book because it's kind of like a journey into my life. It says "Dear Black Girls" but hoping that anyone that reads the book can relate to it and understand that we are all healing. We are all going through something, but we can still be true to ourselves and loving ourselves and leading ourselves and finding that happiness from within.

And I just had a lot of fun writing it because it's just like I feel like it's relatable to a lot of different things and people and it's my first book. It's my first baby. Hopefully not my last but just a young kid with dyslexia writing a book... I never would have imagined doing it. It was just a lot of fun to write for sure.

Not many people write books in the middle of their career. How was the process of writing the book while still playing?
It was definitely a process and my team really kind of helped me put it all together, writing it in season, having those meetings, communicating with a lot of different people what I wanted to get across. I didn't want it to be like your regular book. It's more like a journal, more like a diary so people can dive into my life. And that's not easy.

It's really hard to open up and be vulnerable, particularly as a professional athlete because people are very nitpicky with our lives. So I gave them something to nit pick, but I had tons of fun just putting it all together. And my team really stood by me and helped me through it every step of the way.

Was there a specific moment like that led you to write this book?
I wrote to little passages before and after the WNBA bubble about my mental health and how I was navigating the world. And I think just the audience and the energy I gained from that, I was like, oh this could be a book like we could really pour into something bigger than just a couple of passages. So that's when this came along.

This is the birth of my book. And yeah, it's a lot of heart, it's a lot of feeling good, the bad, the ugly through it all of my life and just having people see that I'm still human. They see me in uniform and think that I'm like a superhero. But after reading this book, I guarantee you'll understand that I am a goofy, happy-go-lucky, crazy girl.

Did you learn anything about yourself through the process?
I think the biggest thing that I learned about myself was it takes time to be who we are. And like, sometimes we take people at face value. Sometimes we see people when they're at their lowest point, but they're smiling and that's OK. And I think that's what I learned about myself. It's OK to have those days where you're just not feeling like yourself. I had to remember I would tell my mom 'I just don't feel like A'ja' and that's OK.

And I think that's the biggest thing I learned is like, we have days where we are at our tens and we have days where we're at our zeros. And that's OK to have those days and navigate the world through that and heal through that. And just I love, I fell in love with the healing of A'ja, the rebirth of A'ja and the woman that she's becoming now for sure.

Obviously, you're one of the most decorated players in the game...
Yeah, I'm overrated haha...

But you don't have your own signature shoe. Can we expect that soon?
It's kind of tough not obviously having a signature shoe considering when I look at my resume, I'm like 'oh yeah, like of course.' I know there's a lot that goes into that, a lot of things that I have no control over and at the end of the day, I'm gonna always just make sure that I can continue to do me and have fun within that. I'm blessed obviously to be in the conversations of them, but being a signature athlete is my dream but the questions of when it's coming, that's a Nike question.

I don't have the answer to that but just know when it is coming, the same people that are like, 'oh, she needs a shoe' need to buy it because we can talk a good game, go buy it. But no, just know when you see that shoe know that it's me. I poured a lot into it and go get it. It's gonna be a good shoe.

Even LeBron has said you need a shoe. What's it like to get his support?
I know, right? He's the king of all things like what's up my but no yeah, it's a lot of fun. I think it's genuine, real support. And we don't ever take that for granted because there's a lot of people out there that fake the funk and I hate that because I'm like, just leave it alone, leave us alone if you're gonna be that way.

So when you have genuine people that are having a seat at the table that can spark those conversations, having your name and speaking that up. It's huge, particularly for the Black women because sometimes we don't get a seat at the table. So to have people that have that seat speak up and bring good attention to us, it's always real. So I always appreciate that.

Speaking of support, I don't think remember this but you came on our podcast during the pandemic and said it's a shame that it took Kobe dying for people to respect women's sports. How do you think the respect and support for women's basketball has evolved on since 2020?

"I hate that it had to take the passing of Kobe for people to be like 'dang, women's sports are pretty good." @_ajawilson22 🗣

EPISODE: https://t.co/gq3yj65s1U pic.twitter.com/wBvEzp3Fgn

— Complex Sports (@ComplexSports) September 1, 2020
Twitter: @ComplexSports

It's on its way up and one thing I always say is we're not a charity case. We're not a trend, we're real people, and this is a lifestyle. This is my job and a day doesn't go by that I'm not trying to perfect my craft. I think now people are starting to look at it as that. I think before they were just like, ok, let me wear my orange hoodie, 'go women.'

But now it's like, no, I want to support and invest and learn about these women and I love that's the trend that we're heading up towards because it was once a point where people just kinda like, don't watch me because you just want to say, 'oh yeah, they're pretty good. They got great fundamentals.' Like I'm tired of that line. Like invest in us, let's let's move forward, move the needle.

And I think we're slowly starting to move the needle because you're seeing us more, whether it's with Complex, whether it's on TV, or in commercials. I always say if you can see her, you can be her. And so when people see you, they want to know more about you. And I think we're just on an upward scale right now, but we have a long way to go.

I know you just said during our social segment that you'll see them soon but there is a college basketball takeover happening. Even if you want to compare, the women's side is on another level than the men's game right now. What's your thoughts on the women's college basketball revolution?
Yeah. When we're talking about just the phenoms in college, it's just things that we have never seen before. I mean, we got JuJu (Watkins) that is crushing it as a freshman. I think people tend to forget that. Like watching her play, watching the pace that she plays with, it's gonna open up so many doors, not only for herself, but for our sport as a whole.

And I just love watching them because I'm like, 'ha ha you guys get to come see us' and it's fun. Like we need that rivalry. We need that competitiveness. I feel like as women, we're always like, link arms and hold together and unify. Yes but at the same time, let's bark back and forth, let's talk, let's get into it because the guys do it, why not?

And so I love the beautiful rivalry or however you wanna put it forming over our sport and I'm just excited to be on the other end of it. It's kind of crazy. People call me vet and old head and all that stuff. I'm like, wait a minute now, I'm not that too far, but no, I'm excited to see where our game's going for sure.

Not sure if you saw the Sheryl Swoopes comments that went viral the other day on Caitlin Clark playing in the WNBA. Personally, how do you feel like Caitlin projects on the next level? Do you feel like she's a franchise-changer immediately?
Obviously yeah. Hopefully, whatever franchise she goes to will push her to do that. I mean, she's gonna put butts in seats, she's gonna bring a lot of people out. But at the same time I know our league and you really just never know. Honestly, you never know. I mean, I played with Kelsey Plum someone that was on the same line and sometimes you have to go through that. But I think the biggest thing is allowing them to go through it.

“Will Caitlin Clark come into the WNBA and do what she is doing right now? Immediately, absolutely not.”

Sheryl Swoopes says Caitlin Clark will not walk right into the WNBA and dominate. pic.twitter.com/2OuMxcJI63

— Complex Sports (@ComplexSports) January 31, 2024
Twitter: @ComplexSports

I feel like we're jumping the gun a lot of saying, 'oh instant pro, oh, she could do this' and very well she can. But let's give her some grace and let her walk her own path and start her own journey the way that she wants to instead of being like come in and average 40-10. Like no, like give her some grace. Everyone's gonna have their seasons and lumps and highs and lows. I'm like, come in, have fun. Love the game. Continue to grow the game and I hope the franchise surrounds her with that.

I have to ask about Michael Porter Jr. What was your reaction when you first saw the snippet on the timeline?
God, I hate giving that attention because he does not deserve it but honestly, you know, it's in those spaces where I would just love to not even be talked about. Like, you have a hour and a half long podcast and then you just get this 15-minute snippet of you just going off on women, particularly women basketball players.

this wasn’t advocating for women’s hoops at all smh it’s actually insulting https://t.co/bwbJDLixIe pic.twitter.com/NArMYhzTvJ

— alexis (@alexisfromvegas) February 3, 2024
Twitter: @alexisfromvegas

And I'm like, we could have just left that alone because if you don't know, you don't know. And I can appreciate you saying like, oh, I'm good, like, let's leave that topic alone. Like I'm OK with that but because he didn't, it just continues to show that we still have a lot more work to do. We still can show up every single day. I mean, his comments aren't gonna change my paycheck.

His comments aren't gonna change who I am but it's just hilarious to me that you're saying all that while wearing a shoe of a woman in the WNBA who's really good. Breanna Stewart, you're wearing her shoe on your feet. That hamster's not rolling and that's why I can't give it any energy.

But, you know, when it comes to press like that, I wish we could just generate this press to like positive press because now that's the first thing people think about it. Like, oh yeah, when you really look at it, ping pong employees do make more. And it's like that's not even what we need to discuss. Like my bank account should not be discussed. But I pray for him. I really do. I pray. I pray when people talk that crazy, I really pray for them because they have a side of a world that they are completely missing and I hope he finds that but you can come to a game.

You can get courtside seats... actually, we might put you in general admission because we sell out. We gotta see if we can find you a ticket because we sell out. But we'll put you courtside, maybe get you a little table so you can bring your friends and really enjoy the game.

Athlete celebrating with a trophy amidst a cheering crowd

Last thing before we get out of here... three-peat?
I don't know, we're gonna have to see. It's a lot of super teams now, not just the Aces & Liberty. It's a lot of super teams now. Come on. So we're gonna see who's the super duper, super duper duper duper team because it ain't us. It's never us. No, that was good.

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