September 18, 2022
Las Vegas Aces
Game 4: Postgame
Las Vegas Aces 78, Connecticut Sun 71
Q. What are the shots? And Becky said that if you guys believed in yourselves like she believes in you, great things would happen.
A'JA WILSON: (Singing).
CHELSEA GRAY: The shots will definitely be of tequila. And what was your second question? I couldn't hear.
Q. I understand. How did that belief, that belief Becky had in you, manifest itself?
CHELSEA GRAY: Man, she's been believing in us from the beginning to play our style on both ends of the floor. I don't know if you guys seen it, but we were small as heck and we just had the belief. We were scrappers and that's what she instilled in us from the beginning. It was from the beginning of training camp until now. So we been working on it and working for each other.
Q. When you look at you accomplishing this, how are you feeling, where you're at, everything you've been through to get here?
A'JA WILSON: This is amazing. I say all the time, I wouldn't be where I am today without my teammates. But winning a championship is something that no one can ever take from you and once you got that down, you are in the books forever -- (burps) excuse me. Too much champagne -- (laughter).
But it's something that no one can ever take away from you. When you are talking about a legacy, you talk about, you have to win and I don't win without my teammates. This moment right here, this year right here is something I'm never going to forget and this is not going to be the first. I'm not going to be like LeBron and start naming off numbers and stuff, but nah, this won't be the first. And I'm just so glad I can celebrate this with Chelsea and everyone else because we worked so hard to get to this moment.
For this to be part of my legacy and my journey I am blessed. I have to give it all to God. Without Him I wouldn't be anywhere. He plays through me and I always say, let that light from within shine brighter than the light that's on you. So it's something special. I love where I am right now.
Q. What was that moment when you finally got together with your parents out there on the court?
A'JA WILSON: Trying to make me try. My parents have sacrificed so, so much for me to be where I am today. And for me to celebrate this moment with them, it's amazing. We were just sitting around joking in the hotel room. My mom was like, I'm not going to have no job when I get back because I been here. She hasn't been to work since I don't know when. My dad is like, I hope I get a job, too. They have sacrificed so much for me to be here and I'm so glad I can share that moment with them. They have instilled something within me and they saw the potential in me before I seen saw it in myself.
I am blessed to have two parents that are always there for me. No matter what they tell me what I need to hear and not necessarily what I want to hear. And they're a hoot, so if you ever need them, y'all probably already talked to them, they are crazy and that's where I get it from. I love them to death and I appreciate them so much.
Q. Jonquel walked across the court and came to hug you while you guys were celebrating. Can you share what she said and what that moment was?
A'JA WILSON: It was just a congratulations. JJ is a dominant post, she's a versatile player in this league and I give all my respect to JJ. The way that she could play the game, the way she sees the game is amazing. So before I even got my interview with Holly, I had to go speak to her because she played her heart out and I mean, it's so hard to guard her and I just have all the most respect for JJ. Her future is so bright in this league and it's a lot of blessings going her way because y'all ain't ever got to guard her; it's hard. She's an MVP for a reason, every possession, I have to keep on my toes. All respect for JJ for sure.
Q. When Becky came in, how quickly did she mesh her personality with this team? I'm told she's pretty funny despite how intense she is as well.
CHELSEA GRAY: It was immediate. In training camp you start making those habits and start creating that relationship. When the season starts and you're in the thick of things, you have things to fall back on - what type of person, what type of competitor they are. So she started off from the beginning, making sure she is not going to be easy on us, just making sure that we are ready when the time comes.
Q. Last year was so tough for you losing that Game 5 at home and it kind of just burned in you guys to come back this year. Can you talk about that. You mentioned you didn't want to have that feeling again.
CHELSEA GRAY: It hurts so much because it was the little things that made us lose. It wasn't like the big picture. We had a squad. We were ready for the moment. It's just the little things that hurt us - defensive possession, turnovers. I replayed the turnover that I had in the fourth quarter that changed the game. I could have got a shot up.
That re-plays in my head when I come back in those moments, and now I'll just have a different replay in my head. It was a tough moment but it built character and it built for next year. It was setting something up for the following year.
Q. Before Game 2, I asked you a question about what you were seeing from a spacing standpoint in the halfcourt and you told me that I could check back in after the season is over.
CHELSEA GRAY: Yeah, because it's a secret.
Q. If you can, what were you seeing from that standpoint?
CHELSEA GRAY: Well, they were putting length on me for a long period of time, with either -- if a guard was guarding me, their posts were extra extended. If DeWanna was on me, they were extra extended. So our angles had to be different from the guards pulling up, so we can attack downhill. We wanted spacing and shooters on the floor. I knew we would go to our small lineup and space it even more and now your rotation is different, if you have Riquna Williams in the court versus somebody in the paint. So we were able to --
A'JA WILSON: Damn, you're talking fast, but go ahead.
CHELSEA GRAY: Our spacing had to be different but I had to be aggressive on the ball first. I was a little passive in Game 3 and scope it out, going into the pick-and-roll. So I knew I had to be aggressive.
A'JA WILSON: Thank you.
Q. Curious how this team is set up for the future, everybody back for the most part, locked in for the next couple years. You have your coach, how do things look for coming back with this group?
CHELSEA GRAY: The future is us taking some photos right now. It's too far ahead. We've just got to enjoy this moment and stay in the moment because we ain't even talk about next year yet. I mean, to do it with this group, knowing that we have commitment for next season is special. We're doing it for each other and it's created a bond. But right now we're just going to enjoy this moment and talk about that maybe tomorrow.
A'JA WILSON: Or next season.
Q. Following up a little bit, A'ja you talked in the postgame about what you all are building in Las Vegas and this is a pivotal time for women's sports. What the Aces organization is doing, you're getting a new practice facility by training camp next year and your coach is making seven figures. How much do you think you guys winning a title after having some of these things done can really shift things for the entire league?
A'JA WILSON: It's huge. It's huge. I've always thought that Vegas set the standard in the league of a team, what a franchise -- I always felt like Vegas set the standard, maybe because that's the only time I've been on. When you have an owner like Mark so dialed in and trustworthy of you and figuring out what can we do better, how can we do more or get people wanting to come to Vegas or just wanting to play better, the sky is the limit for our franchise.
So I'm honored to be drafted by them, for them to trust me, for us gain a Chelsea Gray, for us to be dialed in, for a lot of our starting five to be back, that's how you create legacy and how you create a standard. I think we found ourselves in this league where everyone has their standard of how they've won, and we are creating that. Our journey is just beginning and it's been amazing so far.
When you have a coach like Becky Hammon that is dialed in to who we are and where we want to be, the sky is the limit for us. We just have to trust each other and talk and communicate with one another of what we want and what our roles are in this franchise.
Q. The first time I met you, I asked you what it was like to win a National Championship, and you told me it was like eating a big bowl of ice cream, and then when you won the MVP in 2020, you said it was like four big bowls of ice cream. So I have to ask, what is this like and how does it compare?
A'JA WILSON: It's like a banana split sundae with chocolate drizzled with a cherry on top. Because so many people counted us out in this situation and you can prove people wrong and when you can say that you can hoist that trophy up, it's truly special.
We got out of the mud. No series was easy for us. So it's super special. So this bowl of ice cream is like the size of this room. You can't see the size of this room but it's pretty legit.
Q. You continue to put South Carolina on the map. What does this mean to capture this for the state of South Carolina?
A'JA WILSON: It's huge. It's huge. I'm always representing South Carolina. I'm South Carolina through and through, and if I can put South Carolina on the map every chance I get, I will. That city has built me and raised me, and I know my grandma and grandpa are somewhere shining down on me because they have heard the prayers and seen me cry and been through those moments.
Any time I can put South Carolina on the map, I'm going to be there. This one's for South Carolina. This is for my grandma.
Q. What does this mean to Las Vegas?
CHELSEA GRAY: It's amazing, not only for this franchise but the City of Vegas. Our fans were there every home game and they came here on the road. It was louder here for Vegas fans -- I've been on two teams, and that was loud.
But Vegas fans traveling to Connecticut. The travel isn't easy. Y'all know the travel is not easy to get here. They just came with us and they are going to celebrate. It's a great thing, this franchise and this city, it's a bit small town, that's what I always say.
Everybody wants to visit and everybody wants to be there but there's some locals and people that show up every night, and so to have that here in Connecticut has been great.
Q. Talk about how you ladies literally have come together as a team. Talk about how special this win is. You've all been through adversity throughout your careers and you come together here in this moment and win a championship. Just talk about how special this championship is because you all have your own individual accolades. Some of you are Olympians, some of you are college champions. Just talk about how this win means something more than any other one.
Hello, are we still in there?
(Audio interruption )
Q. You said that you've carried this weight of being so young and leading this franchise with grace. How have you done that?
A'JA WILSON: Man, my teammates. My teammates put me in a situation where I can be the best that I can be and I can lean on them through thick and thin. I'm not who I am without them. I would not be who I am without them.
So that's pretty much it. They have helped me in many ways that they probably don't even know. I have my bad days, and I come into the gym and I see my teammates and my mood shifts because I know I have to be there for them. I will put anything on the line for my teammates. I don't care what they say and how they say -- it's for everything, it's not just because we play together now. It's years to come. Without them, the weight would continue to be on me.
But when I get around my teammates, I feel that weight lifted and I don't feel any pressure because they allow me to be me. So I'm grateful to be part of a franchise and teammates that are so open and caring for me.
Y'all see us off the court, it's real. It's not social. It's not just doing it for s--- and giggles. Like, that's who we are. We are sisters. And yeah, we fight, and yeah, fuss and cuss but we love each other at the end of the day, and you reap the benefits every day when you hoist that trophy up.
Q. Your first game for the Aces five years ago was in this building. When you think back to the player and the person that you were back then, what did you have to learn about yourself and how did you have to grow in order to put yourself in position to deliver a title?
A'JA WILSON: It's hard to play here and never in my life did I think I would be winning a championship here in Mohegan. It's hard to play here and the energy is crazy. When I look back five years, I'm so grateful who I am and who I'm becoming. I'm surrounded by positive energy. I'm more at peace with myself. I know who I am now more than ever. The bubble was crazy but I thank the bubble for that. I feel I know who I am and I feel like I've established myself in this league and the Aces aren't done. We are having a lot of fun where we are and I'm just so happy to be here and to be able to be a champion. Add WNBA champion to that rÃ©sumÃ©.
Q. I talked to you at the end of the regular season about the crowd and the Finals, and now I have to talk to you about the crowd and this parade later this week. Tell Vegas how they should come into this parade and the energy level.
A'JA WILSON: Vegas, you have to take four shots. Children, take shots of ginger ale. But you have to take four shots before you pull up to the parade and drink responsibly. To get to the parade you have to be four shots in, it's unacceptable to be not. The Bellagio fountains, we skiing across that thing. We going crazy. Because I don't think people understand how important this really is. This is huge.
So Vegas, turn up, I saw cops with our logo on the car, y'all better lace up because we about to go crazy. Tuesday, 5:30 PM Pacific time, be there or be square. If you ain't four shots in, don't come. Stay at the house. Children, drink some ginger ale. Drink responsibly. Don't be crazy now. But Usher, I better see you, Usher. I'm not playing with you. I better see you, Usher.
Q. Can you please walk us through this year's journey. It's special, how can you describe this year, being coached by, of course, Becky Hammon?
CHELSEA GRAY: It's been great from start to finish. She demands excellence from us each and every day. It's fun to do that with somebody that you know has your back and she's instilled that into us each moment, and so it's fun to raise that banner with her.
A'JA WILSON: Appreciate y'all.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports