Aces

Adorned With Rings, The Aces Want More

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There’s always more to be done. Add more players. Win more games. Score more. Pass more. 

Win more championships.

That was the focus of this past weekend for the Las Vegas Aces. Before Saturday’s game against the Sparks, the Aces celebrated their 2022 championship team with the presentation of their rings and the unveiling of their world-championship banner. 

“What we’re getting tonight is the ring,” principal owner Mark Davis said. “And that’s what every professional athlete looks for and what they fight for their whole lives. This ring will represent to them, for the rest of their lives, that they are forever champions.”

The sold-out crowd at Michelob ULTRA Arena was thunderous as each of the forever champions collected their rings. Former Ace and current Spark, Dearica Hamby, who had a rather unfortunate falling out with the franchise earlier this year, received one of the loudest ovations Saturday night.

Finals MVP Chelsea Gray and reigning league MVP A’ja Wilson dawned the massive ring on their pinky fingers as they showed it off to the cameras jubilantly. As Wilson took the mic to address the crowd, she triumphantly yelled, “We blinging!”

But her attention turned quickly because despite the celebration, there was work to be done. For the second time in three nights, the Aces would face the Los Angeles Sparks. 

The ring is beautiful, that much is certain. And nothing can take that away. But a championship is equally longevous and fleeting. 

It’s forever. But there’s always something that comes next, there’s always a new game to be won, a new championship to claim. 

The Las Vegas Aces want more. 

“Success a lot of times is harder to handle than failure,” head coach Becky Hammon said in a press conference Sunday night. “So when you’ve had a lot of success – and we had a big night last night – I’m thinking, ‘okay, this is a classic letdown game.’ But honestly, this team has not given me any reasons to think that they will not show up on any given night. No matter the circumstances, they come to compete, they come to play, and they play hard.”

It’s no easy task to respond to flourishing success, but throughout the first four games of this new season, the Aces have left few doubts about their intentions.

Yes, they will forever be champions. But there’s more to be done.

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One More

The Aces traveled to Los Angeles on Thursday night in what was the second and final game of Hammon’s two-game suspension from the league. With assistant coach Natalie Nakase at the helm, they were matched up against Hamby for the first time since she was traded, and Las Vegas started uncharacteristically sloppy.

In fact, the heavy favorite was trailing by 10 points at the half with Wilson making just one of her first eight shots. Despite the double-digit deficit and the hot shooting from Sparks wing Lexie Brown, the Aces came up with more grit in the second half, more passion, more buckets.

Finishing the third quarter on a 20-6 run, Las Vegas claimed a 67-63 lead heading into the final period. A career-high 30 points from rising star Jackie Young propelled the Aces to a nine-point win in what has been by far the closest game of the season for Las Vegas.

Two More

The Aces had gone 2-0 without Hammon on the sidelines, and they were met with the Sparks once again on Saturday as their head coach made her return just in time to claim her ring. 

In a moment that seems so easy to get lost in, the Aces remained focused. Joyous, yes, but always looking forward. The sloppiness from the game before was gone. The offense was crisp and the Aces looked like the superteam they were advertised as. 

A dominant 93-65 win helped Las Vegas extend its winning streak – dating back to August 2019 — over Los Angeles to 12 games, the longest such streak in the league. The pair of dubs helped Candace Parker improve to ninth all-time in regular-season wins as well.

Three More

If there was any doubt remaining about the defending champions’ resolution coming into Sunday – there shouldn’t be anymore.  A 21-point win over the Minnesota Lynx helped the Aces improve to 4-0 on the season and in Commissioner’s Cup games. It’s the best start to a season in franchise history. They won those four games by an average margin of 24.8 points per game. 

But there’s more. Wilson surpassed Hamby for third all-time in defensive rebounds for the franchise. Young rose to sixth all-time on the franchise’s assist leaders and Gray jumped to eighth.

Coming off the incredible high of highs, the Aces keep going higher. Despite having an abundance of success, the Aces claimed more wins this past week.

And they’ll continue to chase more wins until the defending champions are champions once more. And so the cycle goes.

About Ben McCormick

Ben McCormick is a sports writer from North Carolina. He has run independent blogs and begun writing for The Lead in 2023. He writes for The Daily Tar Heel as well, where he has worked since September of 2022.

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