The Las Vegas Aces deserves your praise — the franchise deserves your criticism

The Las Vegas Aces deserves your praise — the franchise deserves your criticism

Women being forced to deal with the ramifications of the decisions that men — and other women — make is a huge part of being a woman. The Las Vegas Aces understand that better than anyone.

On Wednesday night, the Aces became the first team to repeat as WNBA Champions since the 2001, and 2002 Los Angeles Sparks by defeating the New York Liberty 70-69 on the road in a packed house at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Despite being down multiple starters and key role players, Las Vegas found a way to pull it off.

“This is what it’s all about, to have your name etched in history right now with other teams,” said Finals MVP A’ja Wilson. “We never gave up, and this is a moment that we need to celebrate. This is a moment that not a lot of people get a chance to do it, and for us to do it shorthanded, it is truly amazing. It just makes winning that much better.”

All season the Aces were the face of the league. Led by Wilson — the best player in the league — Las Vegas had four All-Stars this year in Chelsea Gray, Jackie Young, Kelsey Plum, and Wilson. They also featured Candace Parker, who missed most of the season due to injury, and were led by the highest-paid coach in the league (Becky Hammon) until misogyny recently messed that up when the Phoenix Mercury changed that by hiring Nate Tibbetts, a man with no experience coaching women’s basketball.

But despite being what many feel could be the league’s next dynasty, the Aces have somehow embodied being the best, and worst thing about the WNBA. Yes, Las Vegas and the New York Liberty put up historic numbers during the 2023 WNBA Finals, as they’re also setting attendance records with ticket sales. However, there are still multiple elephants in the room that need to be addressed that a lot of people have willingly ignored, or lightly touched on.

At the beginning of the season, the Aces lost their 2025 first-round draft pick due to a long investigation by the league that involved over 30 people which led to head coach Becky Hammon being suspended for two games because the franchise “violated league rules regarding impermissible player benefits and workplace policies.” Former Aces player Dearica Hamby claims that she was traded to the Los Angeles Sparks because she was pregnant. Check this out from the Washington Post:

“According to Hamby, Hammon told her she wasn’t ‘holding up her end of the bargain’ after signing a two-year contract extension that summer: ‘We didn’t expect you to get pregnant in the next two years,’ Hamby says Hammon told her.”

Hammon has denied the allegations, yet she was still suspended. Something bad had to have happened. Earlier this month, Hamby filed a discrimination claim over the situation.

And then there’s Riquna Williams, the Aces guard who has been away from the team for months due to being barred from team activities because of multiple domestic violence-related charges against her that were eventually dropped. Men hitting on women in sports is a terrible thing. It takes a different tone when women are the ones hitting other women.

“We’re aware of the charges being dropped, but her status with the Aces has not changed,” Hammon said about Williams last month. Back in 2019, Williams served a 10-game suspension after being arrested for domestic battery charges. “We will move forward trying to win these next two games and going into the playoffs,” added Hammon.

But wait, there’s more.

Aces/Las Vegas Raiders (NFL) owner Mark Davis was under investigation earlier this year for “making under-the-table payment offers to both current players and free agents the team has pursued.” It is alleged that Davis was trying to circumvent the salary cap.

“It’s tough. I guess the thing is when I came into the league, I made it clear that one of my goals is to get the players more money. So, it’s not a secret to anybody. I wouldn’t do anything illegal within the framework of the league, but I’m going to do everything I possibly can up to the line without crossing it to get them more money,” Davis told The Athletic in March. “Obviously, the way that it was reported was that we were giving under-the-table payments, which is absolutely false. If I was another team and we were doing that — giving under-the-table payments — I’d probably be upset, too. Because, again, I saw some of the comments that were made that if they’re doing that, well just let us know that’s the rules and we’ll do it, too. That’s not the case. But anytime that it’s talked about that we want more money for the players or that they think I’m paying them more money, as long as it’s being talked about, I think that’s a good thing.”

And if that wasn’t enough, Tom Brady’s ownership stake in the Aces was recently approved — just as his deal to purchase a minority stake with the Raiders is on hold as some feel that Davis could be giving him a discount on the buy-in price.

“We’ve been through a lot. We’ve been hurt, sued, arrested,” Plum said earlier in the week. “You name it, we’ve done it.”

The Las Vegas Aces are a beautiful mess. On the court, they’re a transcendent team in a sport that’s experiencing a surge in popularity. They’re fun to watch and have players with personalities who have made it a mission to grow the game. But off the court, the allegations against their head coach, owner, and “current” teammate exemplify a troublesome franchise that oozes with the toxicity that is so often expected from teams in a league like the NFL. This isn’t on the players, but unfortunately, it’s a reality they have to deal with. And in some twisted way, watching the Aces excel while dealing with the clouds that others have put over them is a sign that the WNBA is entering the airspace of the other pro sports leagues in this country. Because at this point, they’re all problematic in some form or fashion.

Original source here

#Las #Vegas #Aces #deserves #praise #franchise #deserves #criticism

About the Author

Anthony Barnett
Anthony is the author of the Science & Technology section of ANH.