For the first time in franchise history, the Las Vegas Aces are WNBA Champions.
Las Vegas’ star-studded team, including the league’s 2022 MVP and Defensive Player of the Year A’ja Wilson, swept the Connecticut Suns to claim the title.
They ended the championship with a 78-71 victory over the Suns in Sunday’s Game 4, after winning Game 1 (67-64) and Game 2 (85-71). Connecticut pulled ahead in Game 3, winning 105-76. Essentially, the Aces won three of the four games played in their final series against the Sun.
THE LAS VEGAS ACES ARE CHAMPIONS!— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) September 18, 2022
The Aces defeat the Connecticut Sun in Game 4 to take home the franchise’s first WNBA championship 🏆 pic.twitter.com/77o4TzvhTX
The Aces tied for the league’s best regular-season record at 26-10 and got the No. 1 seed for the playoffs. They also won the in-season Commissioner’s Cup trophy, and A’ja Wilson was the MVP, Defensive Player of the Year and a first-team All-WNBA performer, along with Aces guard Kelsey Plum. Hammon was Coach of the Year and Aces guard Jackie Young was Most Improved Player of the Year.
Rookie Coach Extraordinaire
The championship is the first for coach Becky Hammon, who was also honored with the WNBA’s Coach of the Year award for 2022. Hammon, 45, instilled a championship-level defense in her team to secure the win. MVP Wilson, who led the league in blocks this season with almost two per game, says that defense has been an emphasis for the Becky Hammon-coached Aces since the season’s start.
“Something that [Hammon] has been talking about this whole season has to be just rebounding and playing defense at the end of the day,” said Wilson, who also ranked second in defensive rebounding this season, and finished with at least 10 defensive rebounds in a game nine times.
Late last year, Aces owner Mark Davis made a big gamble—and a big investment—in hiring Hammon away from the San Antonio Spurs, where she had been working as an assistant under Gregg Popovich. Some people believed Hammon could succeed Popovich to become the NBA’s first permanent female head coach.
The highest-paid coach in WNBA history.— Front Office Sports (@FOS) September 18, 2022
Commissioner's Cup Champion.
Coach of the Year.
No. 1 seed.
Becky Hammon just led the Las Vegas Aces to their first-ever WNBA Championship in her debut season 🏆 pic.twitter.com/qfQiJvGRvB
Instead, Davis, who also owns the NFL’s Las Vegas Raiders, offered Hammon $1 million a year to coach the Aces, more than any WNBA player could make in salary, and Hammon delivered.
Pro Sport’s First in Vegas
It’s the first major pro sports title for a team from Las Vegas, and Davis surely hopes this is just the beginning.