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Chatterbox Corner: Aces will bring Vegas its first professional title

Life has a funny way of playing out.

For a city that has longed for a professional sports team for all of my life and going back even further than that, Las Vegas finally has multiple teams to cheer for.

So long are the days of cherishing and reliving the lone national championship for UNLV men’s basketball from 1990.

Or are they?

The first professional team to make their way to Sin City was the Vegas Golden Knights.

How did they respond to critics who questioned whether a move to Vegas would be a good idea?

The Knights responded by becoming the best expansion team in history, checking off record milestones in their inaugural season.

Vegas won it’s division in its first year on the way to a berth in the postseason.

During the postseason, the Knights would sweep Los Angeles, extinguished San Jose in six games and ousted Winnipeg in five games.

The valiant run would end in the Stanley Cup Finals to the Washington Capitals in five games.

All during the Knights’ historic run, I couldn’t help but feel that the seemingly impromptu title run would fall short of the ultimate goal.

For some reason, I’ve always felt Vegas’ first professional title would be brought to the valley by the Aces.

Having moved from San Antonio to Las Vegas looking for a new identity, three years in, the Aces have carved out something special.

Formerly the Stars, the Las Vegas franchise had lost five times in the conference semifinals while in San Antonio.

The team lost in the conference finals once and lost in the WNBA Finals once.

Ironically enough, the team lost to a Detroit Shock team headed by current head coach Bill Laimbeer.

The one player who has their jersey retired by the franchise, Becky Hammon, led the then-Silver Stars into the championship series.

Hammon is now an assistant coach for the San Antonio Spurs in the National Basketball Association.

Prior to moving to San Antonio, the franchise played in Utah for six seasons. While there, the team lost once in the conference semifinals and once in the conference finals.

However since the relocation and rebranding here in Vegas, the team has moved one step closer to a title every season.

In 2018, the Aces missed out on a postseason berth by a ½ game.

Earlier that season, Vegas had to forfeit a game due to travel concerns. The team later learned the game would’ve been cancelled.

The following season, the Aces returned and finished the year No. 2 in the Western Conference.

In addition, they beat the Chicago Sky, 93-92 to advance to their first league semifinals since that title run in 2008.

Vegas’ title hopes would end in four games after losing to the eventual champion, Washington Mystics.

Fast forward through the long offseason and this year’s Aces team finished as the best team in the WNBA this year.

Furthermore, the team was home to the league’s Most Valuable Player in A’ja Wilson.

In her third year, she averaged 20.5 points per game and 8.5 rebounds per game on the way to her first MVP award.

She was boosted by big moments from teammates like Angel McCoughtry, Dearica Hamby and Jackie Young.

McCoughtry has come over as the experienced veteran looking to be the missing piece to a young, contending team.

McCoughtry’s 14.4 points per game average was good for second on the team.

For a second consecutive season, Hamby was named the league’s Sixth Woman of the Year.

Her 13 ppg average came from her shooting 54 percent from the field including 47 percent from three-point range.

If Vegas does complete the run for the title this year, it will have to do it without Hamby who suffered a right knee injury in game three against the Connecticut Sun.

Lastly, Young has bounced back successfully from a rough rookie season to average 11 ppg, 4.3 rebounds per game and 3 assists per game.

Her improvement from year one to year two is a primary reason, the Aces were able to take the league’s best record.

Keep in mind, Vegas did this all without fellow stars Liz Cambage and Kelsey Plum.

Cambage received a medical exemption to sit out the season due to fear of being exposed to the coronavirus.

Plum missed the entire season after tearing her achilles prior to the season’s start.

Needless to say, whether the Aces win it all this year or not, this team may be in the best position to bring Las Vegas it’s first professional championship.


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