Aces ready to grab some WNBA tiles with Wilson, Gray

Aja Wilson and the Las Vegas Aces look like a sure bet to win a few more WNBA titles over the next few years, and that’s impossible to ignore, even if they haven’t had much time to celebrate their organization’s first championship.

“I think we’re in this league where everybody has their own standard of how they’ve won, and we’re creating that,” Wilson said shortly after the franchise won its first title Sunday with a 78-71 victory. against Connecticut in Game 4 of the WNBA Finals. “Our journey is just beginning.”

Several key Aces players have signed deals that will keep them in Las Vegas for the next few years.

No one could be bigger than Wilson, who has already won two MVPs and is entering his prime at just 26 years old. She was also named Defensive Player of the Year for the first time this season and will be the centerpiece of the Aces’ hopes of defending their title next year.

Las Vegas will try to do something the WNBA hasn’t done in 20 years. No team has won back-to-back championships since the Los Angeles Sparks in 2001 and 2002.

“You see. You see,” Wilson said. “This is what we are building. This is what we do. That’s all. I’m so happy right now.”

Wilson has been the face of the franchise since being drafted No. 1 by the Aces in 2018. She led the team to the WNBA Finals in 2020 before the team was swept by Seattle.

She now has a WNBA championship, an NCAA title she won while playing for South Carolina, and an Olympic gold medal.

In addition to their MVP, other key players the Aces have signed for the next few seasons include WNBA Finals MVP Chelsea Gray and backcourt partner Kelsey Plum.

“Knowing that we have a commitment for next season is special,” Gray said. “We do it for each other and it’s created a bond.”

That connection starts at the top with Las Vegas Aces owner Mark Davis. He has invested heavily in the team on and off the pitch since he bought it in 2021. He lured Becky Hammon away from the NBA, making her the WNBA’s first coach with a $1 million-a-year contract, and is building a brand new training facility.

“In Las Vegas, we’re trying to build a culture where the players want to come and be a part of something special, bigger than themselves,” said Hamann, who was named coach of the year when she led the Aces to the title in her first year.

Hamann became the first rookie coach to win a WNBA championship.

She knows the history of the franchise, having starred as a player from 2007-14. The team won the 2008 WNBA Finals. Now the organization celebrates the championship.

“I don’t know, it’s hard to put into words right now,” Hamman said. “It’s a little surreal. You know, when I got the job in December, I thought when I started breaking down their lists that I could do something about it. I had a vision of what I wanted to do with this team.”

Hamman’s vision culminated in a title this year, and there could be more on the horizon.

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