Chelsea Gray Lead Las Vegas Aces to Their First WNBA Title: NPR

Chelsea Gray (12) of the Las Vegas Aces celebrate with their win in the WNBA basketball final against the Connecticut Sun on Sunday in Uncasville, Conn.

Jessica Hill / AP

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Jessica Hill / AP

Chelsea Gray (12) of the Las Vegas Aces celebrate with their win in the WNBA basketball final against the Connecticut Sun on Sunday in Uncasville, Conn.

Jessica Hill / AP

UNCASVILLE, Conn. – 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 finished 9th out of 13 points from the floor, and was named MVP after averaging 18 points throughout the run. The Aces improved to 4-0 in this year’s playoffs with two days of rest.

Riquna Williams added 17 points Kelsey Plum added 16 for the Aces, Jackie Young added 13 and league MVP A’ja Wilson added 11 points with 14 rebounds.

Vegas ended 8-0. When the whistle blew, Wilson grabbed the ball and stomped on the floor before being stopped by her teammates.

“We win! We win! We win!” Wilson shouted at his teammates as they pulled on their championship caps and t-shirts ahead of the trophy ceremony.

This is the first major professional sports title for a team from Las Vegas, and Wilson certainly hopes this is just the beginning.

“You see it. You see it,” Wilson said during the celebration on the field. “This is what we are building. This is what we are doing. This is it. I am very happy right now.”

Courtney Williams has 17 points to lead Connecticut and Alyssa Thomas has a second straight double with 11 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds. Jonquel Jones added 13 points and DeWanna Bonner had 12.

Las Vegas leads with two points at halftime and four points after three quarters.
For Aces coach Becky Hammon, who has not won a title during his distinguished WNBA career, the ring has fulfilled a decades-long mission. She left her position as assistant coach with Gregg Popovich and the San Antonio Spurs to take over in Las Vegas, and the move paid off.

“They are unbelievable people on the court but they are unbelievable people, first and foremost,” said Hammon. “They care about each other. They invest in each other. It is an absolute honor to be their coach. I have seen the excellence and I want to be a part of it.”

Hammon also expressed gratitude to former Aces coach Bill Laimbeer, who was on the ring for the ceremony. “He put this team together and saw the pieces,” said Hammon.

Aces owner Mark Davis, who also owns the NFL’s Las Vegas Raiders, was not with his soccer team on Sunday. He was in Connecticut to get a trophy. He lifted it up, then passed it on to happy players to do the same.
“Las Vegas, we’re world champions,” Davis said.

That was a six-point lead in the fourth round when Kelsey Plum was called up for a rough foul after running into Bonner while the Sun guardian was trying to eat 3 pointers and sent her to the floor, keeping her eyes on it. her right ankle. Bonner made all three free throws before short jumper Jonquel Jones took a one-point lead. The Sun then tied the game in 67th place with a free throw by Courtney Williams and a 71-70 lead thanks to two Brionna Jones fouls.

But Las Vegas has the answer.

Riquna Williams’ 3-pointer sent the Aces back to the top and the Chelsea Gray back jumper extended the lead back to 75-71 when A’Ja Wilson had a minute left to steal a pass and Plum real Make a short jump to ensure victory.
Bonner opened the scoring with a shot from the left. But Kelsey Plum’s three-pointer from the left end of the field gave Vegas a 12-0 run, giving them a 16-6 lead. The Aces, who conceded 34 points to the Sun in the first quarter of game 3, led 16-12 in 10 minutes on Sunday.

Chelsea Gray is the MVP of the WNBA Finals

Gray – who has weathered several serious career-threatening injuries in the past – became the MVP of the WNBA Finals, to no one’s surprise after averaging 18.3 points and 6 assists. created in this series.

“My teammates are amazing,” Gray said as she burst into tears. “I worked really hard for this.”

She’s not a WNBA All-Star this season, nor a first-team pick at all, and she’s expressed her displeasure about that.

She finally got her last word.

“They can keep the All-Star and the first team,” Gray said. “I got the ring.”

As expected, it was a physical game played appropriately on NFL Sunday. The Sun panicked when Bonner accidentally elbowed Gray in the gut late in the first half and lay on the floor for a few minutes before being helped to the bench. She returned to the game later in the first half, seemingly unscathed. Natisha Hiedeman and Plum had a brief shove in the second half, causing a technical error for both players. That was all before Plum became famous in the fourth season.

Both coaches reflect on their inclusion organizations

Before the game, both coaches reflected on the organizations’ makeup in the Finals. The Aces is led by Hammon and two black women executives, general manager Nikki Williams and Nikki Fargas, president of business operations. The Sun is owned by the Mohegan Tribe, has a female president in Jen Rizzotti and is coached by Curt Miller, a gay man.

“Women’s basketball is a story about diversity and inclusion. I mean, our league defines that and I’m so proud to be a part of it,” Miller said, adding that he hopes to become an inspiration to any gay children “wondering if they can pursue a career in sports.”

Hammon said she believes the diversity in the group’s main office has made it stronger.

“You can create more beautiful pictures with a box full of crayons than with just one pencil,” she says.

The start of the celebration was shown on video screens at the Raiders’ stadium during Sunday’s NFL game against Arizona, with fans bursting into cheers. They may cheer even more in the next few days: a parade on the Las Vegas Strip is scheduled for Thursday night.

“What a team, what talent, what a win! You guys have made Las Vegas so proud!” Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman said in a statement. “Thank you for your effort, discipline and focus. We can’t wait for the celebrations and a great parade!”

The Aces are the fourth WNBA team to win the title with both league MVP and coach of the year. The Sun have been among the last four WNBA teams to stand in each of the past four seasons, returning to the Finals for the first time since 2019.

“Nobody expected us to be here,” Bonner said. “They predicted we would lose to Chicago. They predicted we would lose to Dallas. Despite all that, we still made it to the Finals.”

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