Aces win WNBA title to land Las Vegas’ first major pro sports title
Chelsea Gray scored 20 points to lead the Las Vegas Aces to their first WNBA title in a 78-71 road win over the Connecticut Sun in Game 4 on Sunday.
Gray went 9 of 13 from the floor, and was named MVP after averaging 18 points over the run. The Aces improved to 4-0 in this year’s playoffs with two days rest. Riquna Williams added 17 points Kelsey Plum added 16 points for the Aces, Jackie Young had 13 and league MVP A’ja Wilson added 11 points to go with 14 rebounds.
Vegas finished on an 8-0 run. As the buzzer sounded Wilson grabbed the ball and stomped the floor before being mobbed by her teammates.
“We champs! We champs! We champs!” Wilson screamed at teammates as they pulled on their championship hats and T-shirts before the trophy ceremony.
It’s the first major pro sports title for a team from Las Vegas, and Wilson surely hopes this is just the beginning.
“You see it. You see it,” Wilson said in the on-court celebration. “This is what we’re building. This is what we’re doing. This is it. I’m so happy right now.”
Courtney Williams had 17 points to lead Connecticut and Alyssa Thomas had her second straight triple-double with 11 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds. Jonquel Jones added 13 points and DeWanna Bonner had 12.
For Aces coach Becky Hammon, who didn’t get a title in her standout WNBA playing career, the ring completed a decades-long quest. She left an assistant coach position with Gregg Popovich and the San Antonio Spurs to take over in Las Vegas, and the move paid off.
“They’re unbelievable on the court but they’re unbelievable humans, first and foremost,” Hammon said. “They care about each other. They invest in each other. It’s been an absolute honor to be their coach. I saw excellence and I wanted to be a part of it.”
Hammon also paid tribute to former Aces coach Bill Laimbeer, who was on the floor for the ceremony. “He put this team together and saw the pieces,” Hammon said.
Aces owner Mark Davis, who also owns the NFL’s Las Vegas Raiders, wasn’t with his football team on Sunday. He was in Connecticut to get a trophy. He hoisted it, then turned it over to gleeful players who did the same.
“Las Vegas, we are world champions,” Davis said.
Gray who overcame some serious injuries that threatened to sidetrack her career in the past was WNBA Finals MVP, to no one’s surprise after averaging 18.3 points and six assists in the series.
“My teammates are awesome,” Gray said as she broke into tears. “I worked so hard for this.”
She wasn’t a WNBA All-Star this season, nor was she a first-team all-league pick, and voiced her displeasure about that. In the end, she also got the last word.
“They can keep that All-Star and first team,” Gray said. “I got the ring.”