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Plum Reflects on Second World Cup Title

  • Author:
    Sarah Lounsbury, IUPUI
  • Date:
    Oct 1, 2022

    In the last few seconds of the FIBA Women’s World Cup finals in Sydney, Kelsey Plum dives for a loose ball, hugs it close to her chest and smiles. She just helped lead the USA to its fourth consecutive gold medal and 11th overall. For Plum, it's her third gold medal in international competition.

    “I'm just really proud,” said Plum. “I'm really proud of myself. I'm really proud of my teammates. It's just, it's a great feeling.”

    Plum’s 2022 World Cup gold medal will be another item to add to her list of accomplishments. At the 2018 World Cup in Tenerife, Spain, Plum helped the USA to a gold medal finish and at the Tokyo Olympics, she earned a gold medal for the USA in 3x3 play.

    Success didn’t always come easy for Plum however. In June of 2020, she tore her Achilles tendon, forcing her to sit out the 2020 WNBA season. It was Plum’s perseverance and ability to look on the brighter side of things that got her through it.

    “I think it's one of the best things that happened to me,” said Plum. “Not even in my career, you know, mentally, physically, spiritually, I feel like I was given the opportunity to fully rebuild myself and come back. I'm just really grateful that that (injury) happened.”

    After spending time resting and recovering, Plum returned to basketball looking to sharpen her skills and improve her game. It was then she found the courage and motivation to rise to the occasion, allowing her to play her best basketball yet.

    “I think K.P. is really starting to realize others around her,” said A’ja Wilson. “I think she understands that she's not out there by herself. I think she's growing in that area of understanding that the game needs her in the situations that she could facilitate, but also get to the rim. I'm super proud of her growth.”

    The game indeed needs Plum but it’s apparent that Plum needs the game—her tenacity, passion for basketball and fighting spirit makes her attention grabbing. Coming off the bench, Plum is a spitfire for the USA, making quick work of her opponent in a matter of seconds.

    “I think that on the court she’s just a dog,” said Kahleah Copper. “She's gonna get after it. She's gonna compete. She's gonna get all up into you…super fun ultimate competitor.”

    Saturday’s performance at the Sydney Superdome showed no sign of Plum slowing down her inner “dog.” With 15 points in each of her last four games, she had the most among all players from the bench in the 2022 World Cup. Thanks to her help, the USA will qualify for the 2024 Paris Olympics, meaning Plum could win her fourth gold medal.

    But for now, Plum is focused on getting home to relax after a two-week whirlwind of winning a WNBA Championship and gold medal back-to-back.

    “I need a massage,” said Plum. “It's been a long couple of weeks but a great couple of weeks.”

    Sarah Lounsbury is a contributor to USAB.com as part of the Sports Capital Journalism Program at IUPUI.

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