The Las Vegas Aces’ season-ending defeat about a year ago remained fresh in their minds throughout the months leading up to this one. However, that emotion was overshadowed when the Las Vegas Aces defeated the Connecticut Sun in Game 4 to win the WNBA Finals 3-1 and give the city of Las Vegas its first major title in a professional championship. Additionally, this marks a first for Aces, who began play in 1997 as the Utah Starzz, the year WNBA was established as a league. The club relocated to San Antonio in 2003 and lost in the 2008 WNBA Finals. The team participated in the 2020 WNBA Finals under Aces but lost after another sweep. However, the Finals conclusion was altered under Hammon this time.
In her first campaign as a head coach, 45-year-old Hammon became the first individual in WNBA history to clinch the title. Van Chancellor, who had spent upwards of 30 years as a college and high school senior coach before 1997, won the first WNBA championship when all the other coaches were in their debut seasons with their teams. Five rookie head coaches have won the NBA’s championship in the previous 60 years. Despite having served as the head coach at various basketball levels for several years, Nick Nurse was the most current, joining Toronto in 2019.
With a 26-10 record during the regular season, the Aces were tied for the league’s best record and received the top playoff spot. Together with Aces guard Kelsey Plum, they won the in-season Commissioner’s Cup trophy, and A’ja Wilson was named MVP, Defensive Player of the Year, and a first-team All-WNBA performer. Coach of the Year was Hammon, and Most Improved Player of the Year went to Aces guard Jackie Young. But without a championship, all of the honors would have seemed a little hollow for this bunch. At Mohegan Sun Arena, the Aces ended the series in front of a boisterous crowd supporting the Sun.