The Las Vegas Aces celebrate the WNBA title in style with the championship parade on the Strip



CNN

The Las Vegas Aces received a heroine welcome from thousands of fans in Las Vegas on Tuesday after winning their first ever WNBA title.

The championship parade began at Caesars Palace and ended in a box in front of the Bellagio fountain. The celebrations were led by WNBA 2022 MVP A’ja Wilson, who was photographed on the post-show stage with the trophy in one hand and a bottle of champagne in the other.

On Sunday, the Aces beat the Connecticut Sun in Game 4 of the finals to win the first major professional sports championship for the city of Las Vegas.

“Las Vegas, I can’t thank you enough for how much you rallied behind me and my teammates, we did it for all of you,” Wilson said at the event. “I have some of the best teammates in the world. I meant that. ”

And the fans really gave up. The event attracted so much attention that the Strip had to be closed to vehicles after only initially planning to close southbound traffic.

2022 WNBA MVP A'ja Wilson finished with 11 points and 14 rebounds in Game 4.

Despite having such strong ties to sport, Sin City has only had one major professional franchise in town since the NHL’s Golden Knights arrived in Las Vegas in 2017.

Franchises have generally been reluctant to move to a world famous sports betting city. This, coupled with the fact that the city had a 2020 population of only 653,000, meant that no team had taken a chance in Las Vegas until the hockey franchise arrived in the city.

The Aces moved to Nevada in 2018 and were joined by the NFL Raiders who moved from Oakland to Las Vegas in 2020.

But the city was deprived of a championship-winning team until Sunday when the Aces, the first seeded in the playoffs, banished their demons to win in Connecticut.

The star-studded team had drawn closer in recent years, reaching the final in 2020 where they were overwhelmed by the Seattle Storm and falling to the semifinals last year in a heartbreaking Game 5 defeat at home to Phoenix Mercury.

The Aces have four 2022 All-Stars on their squad.

The celebrations were all the sweeter for this. Coach Becky Hammon – who became the first manager in WNBA history to win a title in his first year as head coach – was impressed with the turnout.

“I’m new to the desert and didn’t know you would introduce yourself this way,” said Hammon. “But I’m learning.”

She joined the fan celebration from Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak who gave the Aces a key to the Las Vegas Strip and declared Las Vegas Aces Day in the state Tuesday.

“It’s amazing; these women deserve it so much,” Sisolak said. “They are great leaders on the pitch, but off the pitch they are a source of inspiration for every young person, especially for young women who now know that if they can dream it, it can become reality.”

Wilson was unable to deliver on his post-series promise of waterskiing through the Bellagio fountain, but the regular season MVP and his teammates have won the heart of their city and will go down in history.