New York Liberty star Jonquel Jones told reporters on Friday during the team's exit interviews that comments made by Las Vegas Aces guard Kelsey Plum in the aftermath ofwere "classless." Jones and the Liberty saw their season come to an end with their defeat in that game, as the Aces clinched back-to-back titles.
The Liberty held a 12-point third quarter lead against the shorthanded Aces, who were missing two starters in Chelsea Gray and Kiah Stokes, but were unable to get the job done down the stretch. Plum gave a harsh explanation for the Liberty's collapse to Yahoo Sports.
"I think we knew we hadn't played our best basketball," Plum said. "We also knew that, as much as they're a team, they're not a team, if that makes sense. They're really good individual players, but they don't care about each other. And you can tell in those moments. They revert back to individual basketball."
Jones, to no surprise, was not pleased.
"She's not in our locker room. She doesn't know what goes on in our locker rooms and our huddles," Jones said. "I think it's easy to kick people when they're down and you're up. Honestly, to me, it felt kind of classless. You already won a championship, you get to celebrate with your teammates, you get to talk about things that your team did to be successful, and you choose to essentially just s--- on somebody else and their team and what they've built all year. Yeah, for me, I don't care anything for it, to be honest."
The Aces' cohesion and the bonds they've formed from years of difficult battles together certainly played a part in their comeback, and was an advantage over the Liberty, who were put together last offseason. But Plum's comments, in addition to being harsh, are playing the result. The Liberty missed more than a dozen wide open layups and 3-pointers in that one-point loss; if they had made a few of them and won comfortably, would they suddenly be a team then?
Plum, for her part, claimed on social media that the quotes were taken out of context and issued an apology.
"Since the media wants to do click bait, imma cut this drama out right now so we can move on and be in peace," Plum said. "What I said was taken extremely out of context. I was trying to articulate my teammates and I have been through a lot and we used our bond to get over the hump.
"And getting through it doesn't happen over night. Never been the type to throw shade, quite the opposite actually. I see how it came off, never was my intention and I apologize. Our game grew immensely from this series, don't let this bull s--t detract from the biggest win here."
Jones' exit interview was the first time she spoke to reporters since Game 4. She was not made available to the media after the game, and neither were Sabrina Ionescu nor Betnijah Laney. That trio was fined $2,000 individually,for breaking the league's rules regarding postgame media access.