A'ja Wilson, a forward for the Las Vegas Aces, is the 2020 WNBA Most Valuable Player, so we've invited her to play a game called "Please take a number and stand in line." Three questions for a basketball MVP about the DMV.
Click the audio link above to find out how she does.
PETER SAGAL, HOST:
And now the game where people who are very good at one thing are asked to try their hand at something else. It's called Not My Job.
The WNBA may have played this year in a bubble, but even a bubble could not contain A'ja Wilson. She is the league MVP. She's called by some the greatest woman to ever play the game. She's a forward for the Las Vegas Aces. That's one group in Nevada that knows how to count up a score quickly. A'ja Wilson, welcome to WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME.
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A'JA WILSON: Thank you so much for having me.
SAGAL: Well, congratulations, first of all, on an amazing season and your MVP award. That's pretty great.
WILSON: Yeah. Thank you. It was actually a surprise. I was crying my eyes out. And I normally don't, but it was definitely a good point in my last season.
SAGAL: So how - I want to ask. You guys in the WNBA, you had your own bubble. It was in Bradenton, Fla., right?
WILSON: Yeah. We were at IMG Academy. And it was - we were actually on campus with the students as well. So it was kind of like...
SAGAL: No, really?
WILSON: It was kind of like a bubble. Yes. But then, at the same time, you know, you have kids going to school and things like that. So it was pretty - it brought me back to college.
WILSON: But at the end of the day, I really miss my puppies. I miss my family, my boyfriend. It was so hard not having them come to the bubble. But, yeah. It was definitely just, like, a different kind of feel. When I got out of the bubble, my boyfriend kind of treated me like I was in prison.
WILSON: It's just like, you know, we're going to Chick-fil-A. You can use your credit card. Like, he was just like...
SAGAL: (Laughter) Wait a minute. Wait a minute. Wait a minute. You spent I don't know how many weeks isolated away from him. And his idea of, like, a romantic reunion dinner is Chick-fil-A?
WILSON: (Laughter) Yeah, it was just - he knew that's what I wanted so bad. Like, I just missed the outdoors.
SAGAL: Sure, I can see that. You've been an elite athlete playing to huge crowds for a very long time, so it must have been really weird to play in front of nobody. Am I right?
WILSON: Yes, very weird. Actually, it was probably one of the worst things that didn't really play in my favor because the refs can now hear what you have to say.
SAGAL: Oh, no.
WILSON: So, like, after I made a bucket, I was like and [expletive] one.
DULCE SLOAN: (Laughter).
WILSON: And then the ref's just like, OK. I hear you now.
WILSON: So here we go. Tee up. So he teed me up...
SAGAL: Did they seem shocked, that they had no idea? They were like, A'ja, have you always been like this?
HELEN HONG: (Laughter).
WILSON: And it was in, like, Game 5. Like, it was just, like, elimination game - like, win or go home. So, like, the stakes are high, emotions flying. And all of a sudden, like, I get teed up. And I'm just like, excuse me? Like, that is my paycheck you're taking out of. I'm here for three months. You're getting mad at me because I cussed on the court doing something that I'm passionate about. So, yeah, I miss the crowd in that way.
MAZ JOBRANI: Is that NBA, WNBA? Like, what other leagues - I've seen them all cuss. The coaches cuss.
WILSON: That's what I'm saying. I'm just like - and I thought my parents were there. I was, OK, maybe kids are watching and they kind of heard me say it. But, no. My mom was like, what did you say? I was just, like, so you guys couldn't hear it.
SAGAL: All right.
HONG: Is this sexism? Like, they're like...
SLOAN: I think it is.
SAGAL: It's insane, man. They...
HONG: Yeah. But - like the boys can cuss, but the girls can't.
WILSON: Right. Watch how you speak.
SAGAL: They pay you a fraction of what they pay the men, and you're not even allowed to swear about it? OK, I'm mad. I am...
WILSON: Yeah, see, that's why I was like, oh, I miss the crowds 'cause that way, they don't hear me.
WILSON: But, yeah, they were all up in our grill.
SLOAN: That's certified nonsense.
SAGAL: That is ridiculous.
JOBRANI: You're a professional athlete. It's not like you're somebody on an NPR show.
SLOAN: Yeah, me cussing would be ridiculous. Like, ahh, I love the effing news. Like, no. That's unnecessary.
SAGAL: So I always assume whenever I'm lucky enough to talk to somebody at your level that you were always good at basketball. I know your father played ball, right?
WILSON: Well - yeah, I wouldn't necessarily say that I was always good. I was the young girl on the end of the bench that - uniform was falling off of her. I had to hold my socks up with rubber bands 'cause I was so skinny. And my dad was my coach. So I knew I was not good at basketball when my own father wouldn't play me.
SAGAL: Wait a minute. So you were on a team as a kid. Your father was the coach. And he didn't put you in?
WILSON: Yeah, exactly.
SLOAN: Sounds like your dad wanted to win, yo.
WILSON: (Laughter) Right, winning over his daughter - I get it. I - it helped me because I was like, OK, I got to earn my dad's trust right now.
JOBRANI: At least her dad was coaching 'cause I actually - my daughter was playing in a league when she was 7. And it was the most entertaining thing in the world 'cause, first of all, they go in the wrong direction. They're hugging each other. And one of the best parts was the referee was this blond lady with a big afro, and she was wearing the referee outfit. And the kid looked at her and goes, why are you dressed like a clown? - 'cause she thought she was a clown with...
SAGAL: Technical foul on your kid, I assume.
SAGAL: I heard this. And I just have to ask you if it's true - that your first name is A'ja, A-J-A. Is it true that you were named after the Steely Dan record?
WILSON: I was. Yeah, that was my dad's favorite song. He would always play it. And he told my mom, if you were to ever have a daughter, you will name her A'ja. And when I was born and my dad was like, OK, A'ja, it is.
JOBRANI: How does it go? Could you just - I don't - I'm not familiar.
WILSON: (Singing) Up on the hill - A'ja - (vocalizing).
WILSON: And then all I know is like (singing) A'ja...
SLOAN: That's how some people's (ph) song go. (Vocalizing).
WILSON: (Vocalizing) I'm like, oh, yeah, he's saying my name.
WILSON: You just start busting (ph) out and dancing.
SAGAL: Well, A'ja Wilson, it is really great to talk to you. But we have, in fact, invited you here to play a game we're calling...
BILL KURTIS: Please Take A Number And Stand In Line.
SAGAL: So you're the MVP. So we were wondering what you might know about the DMV, the office where we are all forced to spend time if we want to drive. Answer two out of three questions correctly. You'll win our prize for one of our listeners, the voice of anyone they might choose on their voicemail.
Bill, who is A'ja Wilson playing for?
KURTIS: Andrew Dunn of Boston, Mass.
SAGAL: All right. You ready for this?
SAGAL: Just before we get into this, do you think of yourself - sometimes athletes say no - as a very competitive person?
WILSON: Very, yes (laughter).
SAGAL: OK. I just thought we'd established that. Here we go. Here's your first question. A man trying to register his car in New England after moving there from New Mexico ran into some serious resistance at his local DMV. Why? A, they refused to believe that there ever was a carmaker called Datsun; B, the DMV official said, we don't register cars from foreign countries or, C, the clerk said, wait a minute - New Mexico. You're Walter White fleeing justice, aren't you? I hate you.
WILSON: I'm going to go with A.
SAGAL: You're going to go with A, that the refuse to believe there ever was a car called a Datsun.
SAGAL: It was actually B.
(SOUNDBITE OF WRONG ANSWER TUNE)
SAGAL: In order to register his car, he says, somebody had to go get a road atlas and show the people that, yes, New Mexico is, in fact a state in the United States. All right.
JOBRANI: Oh, my God.
SAGAL: It's OK. You have two more chances.
JOBRANI: I love how competitive she is. She just might cuss.
SAGAL: I know.
SLOAN: Cuss, cuss, cuss. It's a public radio. They don't ever have to pay for the bleeps. They got a whole bleep account that they've never used. Cuss - bleep.
SAGAL: Wait a minute. Dulce thinks you have like - we have, like, a box of bleep somewhere we've never had to use because nobody swears on public television.
SLOAN: I know the bleeps, but nobody ever cusses on...
SAGAL: That's true.
SLOAN: ...Public radio. A'ja, this is your time to shine, friend.
SAGAL: All right. You still have two more chances. You can win this thing. Here is your next question. The DMV is where you go to get vanity plates, which have gotten some people into trouble, like which of these? - A, a California man who got a vanity plate that says NULL, N-U-L-L, and, as a result, he gets sent every ticket when the traffic cop forgets to write in the license number; B, an Illinois woman who has caused 14 accidents with her plate, LOOKBHINDU; or, C, a Utah man who was caught having an affair when his wife saw his CHEATINHEART vanity plate in the parking lot of a motel.
WILSON: I have to get one of these.
SAGAL: I honestly have never seen anyone worry as much about this silly (unintelligible)...
SAGAL: ...As you are right now. You're actually - you're hyperventilating a little. You're sweating.
WILSON: I am sweating. OK. Can I ask...
JOBRANI: There's a reason why she's the MVP, Peter.
SAGAL: Apparently, this is the passion and intensity she brings to every competition. I can see it now.
WILSON: Oh, God.
JOBRANI: Give her A and B again. What's A and B again?
WILSON: What's A and B again?
SAGAL: A and B is the California man - he got NULL, N-U-L-L, like...
WILSON: I like - I'm liking the null 'cause every time you put a N/A - he forgets it 'cause it's null (ph).
SAGAL: Right. You're going to choose that?
SAGAL: Yes. You're right.
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SAGAL: Very good.
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HONG: (Laughter) Ooh, I think - we were all sweating. We were all sweating...
SAGAL: We were.
HONG: ...For you.
SAGAL: It's contagious, man.
HONG: Like, I'm sweating for you.
SAGAL: This is very exciting. I'm actually palpitating a little. This is very intense. All right, last question....
SAGAL: Some of the stereotypes about the DMV apparently have some truth to them, as in which of these cases? A, a survey at a Michigan DMV office found that 30% of the people there sincerely believe that they had died and gone to hell; B, an investigation by the Chicago Sun-Times showed that all the computers in the Illinois DMV aren't even turned on, and employees just pretend to type in things all day; or, C, a state audit found one employee at a California DMV slept on the job for three hours a day every day for four years.
WILSON: Oh, my gosh - C.
(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)
SAGAL: Yes. A'ja, that is right.
SAGAL: Turns out the woman ended up being paid for 2,200 hours of sleeping.
SLOAN: Look at God work.
SAGAL: Honest to God, this was like the most intense competitive event I've been a witness to for years.
HONG: I have sweat, like, in my bra, just a pool - I'm like, I can't.
WILSON: I'm so happy I got through that.
SAGAL: Bill, how - (laughter) Bill, how did A'ja do on our quiz?
KURTIS: She won with two out of three, and she is our most valuable player.
SAGAL: All right, A'ja. I got to ask. You, again, are an elite athlete. You have been for most of your life. Is this how you always are at competitions, trying to cool yourself down?
WILSON: Yeah. I really started, like, overheating. It's crazy.
JOBRANI: A'ja, when you play, like, any board games and stuff, you get this worked up at board games and chess and all that?
WILSON: Oh yeah. Oh yeah. Even when I'm playing Uno with my boyfriend, I'm like - my - the cards are sticking to my hand.
WILSON: I'm like, oh, my gosh.
SAGAL: Please tell me you trash talk your boyfriend during games of Uno.
HONG: Oh, yeah - all the time. Yes.
SAGAL: A'ja Wilson is a forward for the Las Vegas Aces of the WNBA, and she was the MVP of that league for 2020. She's also the founder of the A'ja Wilson Foundation - more information at ajawilsonfoundation.org.
A'ja Wilson, what an absolute joy to talk to you. You're a delight.
WILSON: Thank you. Thank you so much.
SAGAL: Thank you much for being with us. You're the best.
WILSON: Thank you for having me.
(SOOUNDBITE OF KURTIS BLOW SONG, "BASKETBALL")
UNIDENTIFIED SINGERS: (Singing) They're playing basketball.
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(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.