How the Las Vegas Aces receive a spark from this comedic bench player

The Athletic provides live coverage of WNBA Finals Game 2 featuring the New York Liberty vs. Las Vegas Aces.

LAS VEGAS — Sydney Colson executes a pick-and-roll at the top of the key. The defense switches, and the Las Vegas Aces guard delivers a precise pass to the rolling big, who effortlessly finishes at the rim. Theresa Plaisance playfully taunts her defender, jokingly implying that they’re too small to guard her. She confidently states, “I couldn’t hear you from down there.”

This intriguing play doesn’t occur at Michelob ULTRA Arena, and the stakes don’t reach the intensity of the WNBA Finals. Instead, Colson and Plaisance are demonstrating their ability to throw shade on the basketball court. This amusing scenario unfolds in Episode 3 of “The Syd and TP Show,” a cleverly scripted comedy series that stars the former Las Vegas teammates. In this show, Colson and Plaisance strive to develop a tougher persona as they aspire to become the “faces of the league.”

Undoubtedly, this is a daunting task for the duo. Colson played an average of 4.8 minutes per game for the Aces this season and has only accumulated 14 playoff minutes, mostly during garbage time. Plaisance wasn’t even part of a WNBA roster this year after leaving Las Vegas as a free agent. However, “The Syd and TP Show” unveils the hidden talents of these players beyond their traditional statistical contributions.

“We expect nothing less from those two,” states Las Vegas assistant coach Tyler Marsh. “I’m delighted that a broader audience can witness their enthusiasm and genuine humor, qualities we witnessed daily last year and continue to see this year with Sydney.”

Marsh’s favorite scene so far is when Colson and Plaisance engage in football drills with Jennifer King, coach of the Washington Commanders. Chelsea Gray, who expresses her avid support for the show, particularly enjoys the scene where the two players anticipate a trip to Disneyland but unexpectedly find themselves promoting their own brand at a sparsely attended fair.

Although they now attract a national audience, the seeds of the Colson-Plaisance partnership were sown within the Aces team room a year ago. Even with Plaisance no longer on the roster, their influence continues to resonate within the Las Vegas culture.

Becky Hammon recognizes that her team performs best when players feel relaxed. Initially, it was challenging for her when she assumed the head coaching position for the Aces, as the team’s lighthearted approach didn’t appear serious. Yet, she quickly realized that their competitive spirit perfectly complemented their playful off-court demeanor. Her players would fiercely compete against each other in practice, only to engage in acrobatic stunts with the team’s mascot, Bucket$, on the arena trampoline during in-game entertainment.

While most Aces players possess a natural sense of humor, Hammon credits Colson and Plaisance for setting the tone in 2022.

“It all started with them last year and what they brought to the group,” Hammon explains. “They’re charismatic and entertaining. They fearlessly vocalize what everyone secretly thinks but hesitates to say out loud.”

Their humor is the most apparent aspect of their personalities. Colson’s passion for comedy developed during her childhood, watching shows like MadTV. She only pursued basketball instead of improv and theater due to her busy schedule. Within the locker room, Colson is renowned for her hilarious pranks and exaggerated reactions when seated on the Las Vegas bench.

However, when Hammon talks about Colson’s willingness to speak her mind, she also refers to her astute basketball IQ. As a veteran at the age of 34, Colson possesses a keen understanding of the game. She frequently offers advice to teammate Jackie Young, especially regarding defensive strategies, an area where Colson excelled earlier in her career.

“She’s an exceptional veteran and a fantastic presence in the locker room,” states Young. “She loves to joke around, but she’s been a tremendous support to me throughout my career. I often seek her guidance during games and practices, whether it’s about offense or defense.”

Although the notion of turning two end-of-bench players into the faces of the league may seem far-fetched, it undeniably adds an element of comedy. However, it also highlights the value of recognizing players who may not always be in the spotlight. The WNBA comprises not only superstars but also individuals who play their unique roles.

Colson has openly embraced her role, understanding that in order to secure a spot on the roster, everyone in the league must embrace their niche. For her, that means displaying leadership, excelling defensively, managing the second unit, and maintaining a positive mindset despite the number of minutes she receives.

The Aces wholeheartedly appreciate the contributions of Colson and Plaisance, both in the present and the past.

“Syd’s infectious personality has played a significant role in shaping who we are, both last year and this year,” acknowledges Marsh. “She not only brings lightheartedness to the team but also provides valuable leadership. We cherish having her around.”

It is in the best interest of the league to promote individuals like Colson and Plaisance and shed light on the diverse range of players that make up the WNBA’s 144. Although the duo independently secured their show with TOGETHXR and Maximum Effort, which airs on FuboTV and other streaming platforms, the WNBA has recognized their potential and features them in advertisements alongside its corporate partners.

“I think it’s incredibly enjoyable, Syd Colson could truly pursue an acting career for the rest of her life,” remarks league commissioner Cathy Engelbert. “Both players are exceptionally talented, and this aligns with our objective of increasing exposure for our players… It’s all part of our marketing strategy to build household names and foster rivalries.”

Colson describes the feedback they’ve received as “tremendous,” and she’s thrilled that people are discovering Plaisance’s humor since the forward isn’t as active on social media as Colson. Six more episodes remain for the duo as they ascend the ladder towards WNBA stardom.

Meanwhile, they still need to win over some members of the Aces organization. After hosting a watch party for the series premiere, Young and Hammon haven’t had the opportunity to watch more episodes as they’ve been fully focused on game film.

“Her show is hilarious, but it’s the finals, so our attention is locked on that,” remarks Young.

Culture undeniably matters, but the team’s preparation remains paramount as they strive for a second consecutive title.

(Photo of Sydney Colson: Steve Marcus / Getty Images)


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