“Las Vegas, I can’t thank you enough for standing behind me and my teammates. We did that for you all,” Wilson said at the event. “I have some of the best teammates in the world. I’m serious.”
And the fans really nailed it. The rally garnered so much attention that the Strip had to be closed to vehicles after originally only planning to halt southbound traffic.
Despite Sin City having such strong ties to sports, the city has only had a major professional franchise since the NHL’s Golden Knights came to Vegas in 2017.
Franchises have generally been reluctant to move to a city that is world famous for sports betting. Coupled with the city’s 2020 population of just 653,000, it meant that no team in Las Vegas took a chance until the hockey franchise came to town.
The Aces relocated to Nevada in 2018 and were joined by the NFL’s Raiders, who relocated from Oakland to Las Vegas in 2020.
But the city was robbed of a championship-winning team until Sunday when the Aces, the first seed in the playoffs, banished their demons to win in Connecticut.
The star-studded side had come close in recent years, reaching the finals in 2020 where they were swept away by the Seattle Storm and falling into the semis last year with an agonizing loss in Game 5 at home to Phoenix Mercury.
The celebrations were all the sweeter for that. Head Coach Becky Hammon—who became the first head coach in WNBA history to win a title in her freshman year as head coach—was impressed with the turnout.
“I’m new to the desert and I didn’t know you would come across like that,” Hammon said. “But I am learning.”
She was joined in the celebration by Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak, who presented the Aces with a key to the Las Vegas Strip and declared Las Vegas Aces Day in the state on Tuesday.
“It’s incredible, these women deserve it so much,” said Sisolak. “They are great leaders on the pitch but off the pitch they are an inspiration to every young person, especially young women who now know that if they can dream it can come true.”
Wilson didn’t make good on her post-series promise to waterski the fountain at the Bellagio, but the regular-season MVP and her teammates won the hearts of their town and will go down as history-makers.