WNBA Finals: Las Vegas Aces win first championship


Las Vegas has never had a professional sports champion — until Sunday.

Chelsea Gray scored 20 points to lead the Las Vegas Aces to their first WNBA title and the city’s first pro title in a 78-71 away win over the Connecticut Sun in Game 4.

Gray floored 9th of 13 and became Finals MVP after averaging 18.3 points in the series.

Vegas ended with an 8-0 run. As the buzzer rang, league MVP A’ja Wilson, who played every minute of the game, grabbed the ball and stomped the floor before being mobbed by her teammates.

“We champions! We champions! We champions!” Wilson yelled at teammates as they donned their championship hats and T-shirts before the awards ceremony.

Riquna Williams had 17 points for Vegas, Kelsey Plum added 16 points, Jackie Young had 13 and Wilson added 11 points to go with her 14 rebounds.

Wilson hopes this is just the beginning for the franchise.

“You see it. You see it,” Wilson said at the on-court celebration. “That’s what we’re building. That’s what we’re doing. That’s it. I’m so happy right now.”

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

“When you come up short, it really hurts,” said Sun coach Curt Miller. “But that means there was something important and special in this group of players.”

For Aces coach Becky Hammon, who did not win a title in her stellar WNBA career, the ring completed a decade-long quest. She left an assistant coaching position with Gregg Popovich and the San Antonio Spurs to take charge in Las Vegas. The move was worth it.

“They’re incredible on the pitch, but first and foremost they’re incredible people,” Hammon said. “They take care of each other. They invest in each other. It was an absolute honor to be her coach. I saw excellence and wanted to be a part of it.”

Hammon also paid tribute to former Aces coach Bill Laimbeer, who was on the floor at the ceremony: “He put this team together and saw the pieces.”

Aces owner Mark Davis, who also owns the NFL’s Las Vegas Raiders, was not with his football team on Sunday. He was in Connecticut to collect a trophy. He picked it up and then handed it to happy players who did the same.

“Las Vegas, we’re world champions,” Davis said.

The Aces led by two points at halftime and by four points after three quarters. They had a six-point lead in the fourth when Plum was called for a flagrant foul after hitting Bonner while the Sun Guard attempted a 3-pointer and sent her to the ground with her right ankle.

Bonner hit all three free throws before Jones’ short jumper cut the lead to a point. The Sun then closed the game with a 67-point Courtney Williams free throw and went 71-70 after two fouls by Brionna Jones.

But Las Vegas had the answers.

Riquna Williams’ 3-pointer put the aces back in front and Gray’s step-back jumper rebuilt the lead to 75-71 by less than a minute. A’ja Wilson then stole a pass and Plum hit a short jump shot to secure the win.


As expected, it was a physical game – played appropriately on an NFL Sunday. The Sun was startled when Bonner took an accidental elbow from Gray late in the first quarter and was down for a few minutes before being helped onto the bench. She came back into play later in half-time and didn’t seem to suffer any ill effects. Natisha Hiedeman and Plum got into a brief pushing match in the second quarter, which elicited technical fouls from both players. That was all before Plums flagrant in the fourth.


Gray wasn’t a WNBA All-Star or a first-team All-League pick this season, and she’d expressed her displeasure about it. After scoring 21 points in each of the first two games of the finals, she only scored 11 points in Game 3 but bounced back. Way back.

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


Before the game, both coaches thought about the composition of the organizations in the final. The Aces are led by Hammon and two black female executives in general manager Nikki Williams and Nikki Fargas, president of business operations. The Sun is owned by the Mohegan tribe, has a president in Jen Rizzotti, and is coached by Curt Miller, a gay man.

“Women’s basketball is one such story of diversity and inclusion. I mean, our league defines it and I’m so proud to be a part of it,” Miller said, adding that he hopes to be an inspiration to every gay kid “wondering if there’s a career in sport can aspire to”.

Hammon said she believes the diversity in her team’s front office has made it stronger

“You can take much better pictures with a box full of crayons than with just a pencil,” she said.


The beginning of the celebration was shown on video screens at Raiders Stadium during Sunday’s NFL game against Arizona, and fans erupted in cheers.

In a few days they can continue to cheer: A parade on the Las Vegas Strip is planned for Tuesday evening.

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

Wilson said after the game that parade-goers should be ready for a party: “When you come to the parade, you better have four shots in there. If you don’t have four shots in it, don’t come.”


The Aces improved to 4-0 in this year’s playoffs with two days off. … Vegas is the fourth WNBA team to win a title with both a league MVP and coach of the year … The sun came up shortly thereafter after being among the last four WNBA teams to have won for each of the last four seasons have reached the final for the first time since 2019.

“No one expected us to be here,” Bonner said. “They expected us to lose to Chicago. They expected us to lose to Dallas. Nevertheless, we made it to the final.”