Aces

Gray Matters: Chelsea Gray Leads Aces to Commissioner’s Cup Title

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Four Aces were All-Stars this year. Three Aces have won Player of the Week this year. None of those Aces are named Chelsea Gray. And yet, in their biggest game of the season, Gray was the one walking away with the hardware. 

MID-SEASON CHAMPS 

Tuesday evening, the Las Vegas Aces defeated the Chicago Sky 93-83 in the WNBA’s second ever Commissioner’s Cup. Gray put up 19 points, four rebounds, and five assists, along with a steal and a block en route to winning the Commissioner’s Cup MVP Award.  

She did not run away with the (regular-sized) trophy, however. Jackie Young scored 18 on an efficient 8-13 from the floor. Kelsey Plum led all scorers with 24 points. A’ja Wilson put up a dominant stat line, with 17 points, 17 rebounds, six blocks, two assists, and two steals.  

Perhaps Gray doesn’t put up the flashy numbers that some of her teammates do. Perhaps game-management is less exciting than shot-blocking and 3-point scoring. And perhaps the ever-enigmatic concept of “marketability” keeps the eight-year vet from getting the recognition she deserves. 

But on one important night in July, the spotlight found Gray. And instead of basking in its glow, she redirected it onto her teammates. 

“They’re my dogs, man, they have my back,” Gray said after the game, “I wouldn’t be holding that MVP trophy without them. It could have gone to so many different people. Everybody was locked in and played great today, so I’m definitely blessed to be able to hold it up.” 

GRAY’S IMPACT 

Gray’s numbers this season won’t jump off the page. But her impact goes far beyond the stat sheet. And her teammates and coaches went out of their way to recognize that impact on Tuesday night. 

“I mean, Chelsea’s a gamer,” head coach Becky Hammon said after the game, “She’s a huge part of what we do. She is the extension of the coach out there. Hell, I’m her assistant. I tell them all the time, ‘If Chelsea calls something and I call something, you listen to Chelsea. So, when the head coach calls something, you run it.’” 

Hammon also praised Gray’s ability to calm everyone down in high-pressure situations. 

“To me, she is the cooling factor,” Hammon said, “When things get a little hot, out of control, the pressure starts to rise, she is the cooler.” 

Gray won a championship in 2016 with the LA Sparks, which makes her the sole Ace with a WNBA title on her resume. She has also played more regular season games than anyone else on the roster. Evidently, Gray’s experience is her most valuable asset. 

Her passing and playmaking are on another level. She ranks third in the league in assists this year. At least once a game, she completes a pass that seems near impossible.  

“I just want to set it for the record straight,” Plum said of Gray after the game, “She’s the best point guard in the world.” 

FINALS PREVIEW? 

Following the game, many fans discussed the possibility of seeing these two teams in the Finals. It makes sense; the Sky are the defending champs and have the best record in the league. Vegas trails Chicago by only one game in the standings.

There’s a reason these two teams ended up with the best records in Commissioner Cup qualification games. Nobody would be surprised if we got a rematch of this game for all the marbles. In addition, the Aces’ victory suggests they have the firepower needed to best the Sky if that were to happen. 

The Aces are not ready to go that far, however.  

“It’s just a game, and we’re happy to win it,” Hammon said, “But it’s not the ultimate goal.” 

Wilson echoed a similar sentiment.  

“I feel like the real season’s just now starting for us,” she said, “This is just the beginning. We’re going to take it in, but we’re not done. We know what’s ahead of us. And we just gotta make sure that we take care of business the right way.”

About Jack Levenberg

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