It took less than a minute for Angel McCoughtry to announce her presence. In her Las Vegas Aces debut, she grabbed a defensive rebound, took the ball the length of the floor, and weaved her way around multiple Chicago Sky defenders to finish at the rim.
She went for 25 points and eight rebounds on the day, not bad for someone who missed all of last season recovering from knee surgery. The Aces lost, but the strong start was a confidence boost for the five-time All-Star, a reminder that she's still one of the top players in this league.
"It felt like unfinished business," McCoughtry told CBS Sports. "I could just go out there and go."
In the bubble, McCoughty's business goes beyond basketball. The WNBA has dedicated this season to social justice and honoring women who were victims of police and racial violence. In one of many statements the players have made, they are wearing Breonna Taylor's name on their jerseys -- McCoughtry's idea.
It took some time to get the league on board, but what started with just a tweet has blossomed into a relationship with Taylor's family. Seeing her plan come to fruition "meant a lot" to McCoughtry.
"We know that your jersey is so important, because it's basically your personal brand, your jersey is who you are," McCoughtry said. "People buy your jersey. They don't buy your shorts, they don't buy your headbands. I thought if we could put the names on there, that was a great way to advocate while we play."
McCoughtry said Taylor's family was "ecstatic" about the gesture, and she and other players are determined to make sure their partnership doesn't stop when the basketball does. They intend to continue supporting the Breonna Taylor Foundation once they leave the bubble and the spotlight goes away.
For now, though, McCoughtry and the Aces will have to balance their commitments. And so far, it hasn't been a problem for the veteran forward. She's second on the team in scoring at 14.8 points per game and shooting 53.5 percent, while chipping in 5.3 rebounds, 2.5 assists and one steal per game.
To most outside observers, McCoughtry has been everything Las Vegas would have expected. A former scoring champ, she has no problem creating her own offense, something they desperately need with Liz Cambage and Kelsey Plum both out for the season. And she contributes in other areas as well, notably on the defensive end, where she's still a menace.
In the eyes of Aces head coach Bill Laimbeer, however, she's been even more.
"She's better than I thought she was," Laimbeer said. "I wish I had her when she was a youngster. Got a little bit of miles on her now, but she's very capable. Very smart basketball player, great team-oriented basketball player. Smart, leader in her own right, and I expect her to have a really solid year."
McCoughtry said her relationship with Laimbeer, which includes long chats over wine, is unlike any she's had with a coach in her long career. His philosophy and the way he approaches the game was one of the main reasons she chose to sign with the Aces over other interested teams this offseason.
"I like that he keeps it real," McCoughtry said during the Aces-Wings broadcast. "He tells you what you need to work on, and if you're not having a good day, he tells you 'hey, pick it up!' I love that about him."
Another deciding factor was the chance to play with Cambage, but that will have to wait until 2021. But even without the All-WNBA center, McCoughtry still believes the Aces can compete for a title, which was the most important reason she joined the franchise.
Now in her 11th season, McCoughtry has done just about everything besides get a ring. She won Rookie of the Year, two scoring titles, has been to five All-Star Games, was named to six All-WNBA teams and seven All-Defensive teams and captured two Olympic gold medals. She led the Dream to three Finals appearances, where they were always overmatched.
Through the first 12 days of the season, the Aces look strong. Their 2-2 record tells an incomplete story, as the those losses have come by a combined nine points and they're in the top six in the league in both offensive and defensive rating. A 22-game season is inherently unpredictable, but they have the starpower and defense to compete with anyone. If they can continue finding consistent offense despite a lack of outside shooting, contending for a title isn't out of the question.
On the latter point, much of that responsibility will fall to McCoughtry, and her impressive start has not only boosted her confidence, but her teammates' as well. It hasn't taken long for them to realize how much easier she can make the game for those around her.
"Oh Angel McCoughtry, she's nice on the court," Sugar Rodgers said. "She's a beast."
Nice on the court, and nice off of it, McCoughtry is already making a big impact for the Aces.