Las Vegas, NV—Las Vegas got a nice groove and chemistry going on the hardwood this season. They want the same type of celebration next year as they received tonight at the T-Mobile Arena.
With a sellout crowd of 10,191 at T-Mobile, the Aces were blessed with their championship rings from owner Mark Davis, continued to emit electricity as the team’s new game introduction played on the jumbotron, and roared endlessly as Las Vegas (3-0) beat down the Los Angeles Sparks (1-2) 93-65 on Saturday night.
“It’s a great environment,” WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert said. “To sell out the home opener here for the ring ceremony is great, especially when the Knights are playing down the road. That’s pretty outstanding that they sold out tonight. So, we love the fan base here and we love Vegas.”
Vegas started their season 2-0 without their head coach at the helm, which included a 94-85 victory against the Sparks on Thursday in Los Angeles.
Coach Hammon was suspended for the first two games of the year following a WNBA investigation that found the franchise violated league rules regarding impermissible player benefits and workplace policies involving former player Dearica Hamby. The WNBA also rescinded the Las Vegas Aces’ 2025 first-round draft pick.
“This is my 25th year, in either the WNBA or NBA and this is truly my home space,” Hammon said about her return. “It was definitely nice to get out there and be with my team. But honestly, they’ve been so awesome through this, this whole thing. They know how to make me smile for sure. It was nice to have this moment with them.”
The Aces jumped on the Sparks early, as center A’ja Wilson opened the game up with two easy buckets, and the Aces never took their foot off the gas pedal.
Wilson spoke on the pressure of pursuing a second title: “I try not to look at it as defending a title, or wanting to go back to back. I just approach it the same way I did the first one, I think we all do. If we look at it in that way, we’re gonna put more pressure on ourselves and it’s downhill from there. I’m so glad that we got this ring out of the way because that’s just one distraction to put us aside and now we can really focus on and lock in. But we know that target on our back is now a lot bigger. With that being said we work a lot harder.”
For Los Angeles, it was Nneka Ogwumike leading the way with 16 points, while Karlie Samuelson added 13.
The game was an afterthought, this night belonged to the fans who were there to see the unveiling of the championship banner hanging next to Aces coach Becky Hammon’s retired jersey, the players receive their championship rings and the entertainment throughout the night.
“Yeah, I didn’t even know though they were going to hang it right there, but I will say it looks very lovely next to it,” Hammon said of the banner and her jersey. “They need some neighbors though. Some other jerseys will be up there eventually, I know.
Anita Baker performed the national anthem and Coi Leray performed at halftime.
“We wouldn’t be able to wear these rings without y’all,” Wilson told the crowd.
Now with the Sparks in a offseason trade, Dearica Hamby was the first player from last year’s championship team to receive her ring.
“Obviously a moment that I know I should probably be proud of and embrace,” Hamby said. “I mean, me getting a ring is special, but I’m going to do it for the fans.”
The Aces held their media day earlier this month inside Vu Studios, a multi-story production facility with increased technological capabilities. The payoff came Saturday night when several video creations from that day played out on the arena’s jumbotron, including veteran Sydney Colson appearing to run through a forest with an axe as Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” plays while closing out the scene by replicating Jack Nicholson’s notorious scene in “The Shining.”
The Aces are doing it real big this year.
The Aces will play the Lynx for a 8:00 P.M. start time.