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Not My Job: We Quiz A'ja Wilson, The WNBA's MVP, On The DMV

PETER SAGAL, HOST:

The NBA managed to finish their season in, quote, "the bubble" in Orlando, Fla. But so did the WNBA, which played its entire season on a school campus near Sarasota.

BILL KURTIS: The MVP of that season was A'ja Wilson, who some say is the greatest woman to ever play the game. Despite all the praise and trophies, she says it wasn't easy.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED NPR BROADCAST)

A'JA 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.

SAGAL: Sure.

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. 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.

SAGAL: (Laughter).

WILSON: So here we go. Tee up. 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...

SAGAL: All right.

HELEN 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.

SAGAL: (Laughter).

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.

WILSON: Right.

HONG: (Laughter).

SLOAN: Yeah, me cussing would be ridiculous. Like, ahh, I love the effing news. Like, no. That's unnecessary.

(LAUGHTER)

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.

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.

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).

(LAUGHTER)

WILSON: And then all I know is like, (singing) A'ja. (Vocalizing) I'm like, oh, yeah, he's saying my name.

(LAUGHTER)

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...

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 2 out of 3 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?

WILSON: Yes.

SAGAL: 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.

WILSON: Yes.

SAGAL: It was actually B. 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 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.

(LAUGHTER)

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.

(LAUGHTER)

SLOAN: I know the bleeps cost money, but nobody ever cusses on...

SAGAL: That's true.

SLOAN: ...Public radio. A'ja, this is your time to shine, friend.

(LAUGHTER)

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)...

(LAUGHTER)

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?

WILSON: Yes.

SAGAL: Yes. You're right.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

SAGAL: Very good.

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE SOUND EFFECT)

SLOAN: Yay.

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.

WILSON: OK.

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.

SAGAL: Yes.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

SAGAL: Yes. A'ja, that is right.

(CHEERING)

SAGAL: Turns out the woman ended up being paid for 2,200 hours of sleeping.

(LAUGHTER)

WILSON: Oh, my God. 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 2 out of 3.

(CHEERING)

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. Thank you much for being with us. You're the best.

WILSON: Thank you for having me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.