UNCASVILLE, Conn. — Nearly a year ago, the Las Vegas Aces suffered a season-ending loss that burned them through the winter months into this season. But that sentiment was eclipsed on Sunday, as the Aces defeated the Connecticut Sun 78-71 in Game 4 and captured the WNBA title 3-1, giving the city of Las Vegas its first major pro sports championship.
“We didn’t like that feeling we had last year,” said Aces guard Chelsea Gray, who was named WNBA Finals MVP.
It’s also a first for the Aces franchise, which began as Utah Starzz in 1997 when the WNBA debuted as a league. The team moved to San Antonio in 2003 and made its only previous WNBA Finals in 2008, getting swept away. Becky Hammon was then a player for San Antonio; she is now the head coach of Las Vegas.
Hammon, 45, is the first in WNBA history to win a title in her first season as head coach. Van Chancellor won the first WNBA championship in 1997, when all the coaches were in their first seasons with their teams, but he had been a middle school and high school head coach for more than 30 years prior.
Five rookie NBA head coaches over the past 60 years have won this league title. The most recent was Nick Nurse with Toronto in 2019, although he had also been a head coach for several years before at other levels of basketball.
Hammon served as Gregg Popovich’s assistant with the San Antonio Spurs for eight seasons before Aces owner Mark Davis hired her last December to take over the WNBA team. She finished the season with Spurs in April and then immediately joined the Aces, who played a pre-season game on May 1 and their opener on May 6.
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. Las Vegas Aces win their first title WNBA defeating Connecticut Sun in fourth match final