Summer in Vegas has always been synonymous with basketball. With the NBA’s Summer League and the USA National Team working out there, Sin City has become a sort of basketball Mecca during the months of June and July. This summer, however, a new basketball powerhouse has emerged to outshine them all: the Las Vegas Aces.
Led by superstar A’ja Wilson, the Aces are the best show in Vegas and, yet, they are still flying under the radar. The team is in the midst of their best stretch of the season, having won three games in a row, already surpassing their win total from the previous three seasons (when they were known as the San Antonio Stars).
Despite these achievements, basketball fans would be hard-pressed to find a blip of local coverage on the team, while Summer League games get front-page treatment. Thankfully, the the Aces play in Minnesota tonight against a championship Lynx team that has won over a strong fan base in Minneapolis, including adequate game coverage.
But this is frustrating for many reasons, and mainly because the Aces are FUN and GOOD!
It should not be a hard sell to have fans come and see the next WNBA superstar with a Splash Sisters backcourt of Kelsey Plum and Kayla McBride. Did I mention that Bill Laimbeer is the coach? How about the beautiful arena where you can get excellent seats for $20 dollars? Seriously, how are games not consistently sold out?!?!
This is not to say that the WNBA is not working in Vegas. Quite to the contrary, it is working, but it could be thriving.
The MGM has done its part by promoting Aces merchandise all over its casinos. They have team stores for the Aces and posters plastered everywhere. Now, although this is great, outside of MGM the local coverage of the Aces has been poor.
For example, after the Aces defeated the Chicago Sky to win their third straight game, local news did not make one mention of the Aces. Worse still, go and try and find Aces merchandise off of the Las Vegas Strip. Hint: You won’t!
People will point to the team’s record for the lack of coverage but that simply is poor logic. The Aces are a team that could very easily have two All-Stars and most certainly will have at least one. Wilson, a rookie, was named WNBA Player of the Month for June, she is practically a shoo-in for Rookie of the Year and she is even a strong contender for season MVP!
The return of Moriah Jefferson has been huge for the Aces, as she gives them another ball-handler, which has helped to relieve pressure from both Plum and McBride — propelling the Aces right into the playoff hunt and making them look like one of the hottest teams in the league.
Yet, you would never know it from how the team is covered, especially in the local Las Vegas market. And it is sad that the Aces’ most prominent coverage has been about the players correctly asking for higher compensation, but even that was met with negativity by some of those in the press.
Las Vegas has the chance to be the leader in changing the conversation when it comes to women’s basketball and women’s sports in general. The Aces are one of two professional teams in the city, so there’s no excuse on why fans and local media should not get behind the team and support them fully. The Aces deserve equal coverage and Las Vegas has the chance to set the standard for equality when it comes to sports coverage.
The Aces are the professional team that Vegas always wanted, so now is the time for fans and local media outlets to treat them like it.