September 18, 2022
Las Vegas Aces
Game 4: Postgame
Las Vegas Aces 78, Connecticut Sun 71
BECKY HAMMON: Obviously super proud of the group. It was a battle. We knew it wasn't going to be easy. It's never easy to close a game in a regular season, let alone in a championship game on somebody else's home court.
So just really happy for the girls overall. They stayed focused. This has been the goal since training camp. Luckily I got a group of really resilient players and you know, I said it out there but probably the biggest thing I'm proud of is just how they have come together over the course of the past five, six months to really become a team. And you saw different people step up at different moments tonight and that's what makes us difficult to beat.
Q. During the semifinals, you said if they believed in themselves like you believed in them, then they would do great things. The way they played in this Finals, was this a team that you saw believed in themselves in that way?
BECKY HAMMON: Well, when you take the word "encourage," which actually means to give courage to another person, that's what I've tried to speak into them every day. It's how much I believed in them, and that we could be special if we all do it together.
Like I said, they are really good basketball players but they are also really fun people. I've had an absolute blast this summer, not only being on the court with them and being their basketball coach, but also just being there for them. You know, because they have all kind of been on their own little journeys, and yet we land here on the same road with the same destination. It's just been a pleasure for me to coach them and I look forward to building on it.
Q. First of all, congrats, it's a pleasure watching you guys all year. This is your first WNBA title in your career, player or coach. How are you feeling with that?
BECKY HAMMON: I don't know, it's actually hard to put into words right now. A little surreal.
You know, when I took the job in December, I thought when I started kind of breaking down their rosters that I could do something with it. I had a vision of what I wanted to do with this team.
You know, even when it got a little rocky, we stuck to it. We hit a kind of stay-down-in-the-dirt-or-get-up moment right after All-Star. Last usual, they chose to stand up. We have tremendous leadership in that locker room. We have tremendous professionals but I'll say it again, they are tremendous people.
I mean, like my kids are living their best life with those girls. We try to make it a family atmosphere, bring everybody along and I say all along, happy players make better players. So in Vegas, we are trying to build a culture that players want to come and take part in something special, something bigger than themselves.
So it's a little surreal. Maybe you can call me back in like a week when it sinks in.
Q. You talk about building a culture for this team. What exactly is it that you felt helped this team throughout the season when you talk about the adversity, you talk about the ups and downs, of getting here and actually capturing a championship for the first time in franchise history?
BECKY HAMMON: Really, first thing that you have to do in building a championship culture is to set a tone of accountability first and foremost. Bringing people together for a common goal that's bigger than themselves, and then you've got to get the buy-in factor. My buy-in factor on each one of these women has been high, and I think they respond to me well, and you know, I try to be very clear with what their job is, what the expectation is.
Then, you know, everybody is held to the same line in the sense of, you know, nobody is shooting it over two, three people. Play the right way and everybody wins, and when we win, everything else takes care of itself.
Q. Riquana was incredible in that one stretch. Were you drawing up plays for her or was she following her gut? She was the only scoring off the bench for you guy, 17 points.
BECKY HAMMON: Well, obviously we went small. I felt like if we could scrap and just dig out balls on the other end, that they would have a tough time guarding us down there. It was whoever their biggest player was on, we were running them into pick-and-roll actions, and we were slipping out and making them pay in different ways.
Again, you know, she's somebody who didn't shoot particularly well the other game, Game 3, and you don't get the name "Bae Buckets" for nothing. I know she got a lot in the tank and I've got the utmost confidence in her. She knows she's got the ultimate green light. It just happened to be who was on her and I wanted to run her into it because I knew she would eventually be the one that got open.
Q. From the TV view, we saw you kind of walk out on to the court after the game ended and you turned around and walked quickly back towards the benches or the stands. What made you turn around or what were you looking for?
BECKY HAMMON: I have no idea. Probably making sure the clock went off. I don't know. I wish I could have grabbed Curt Miller a little bit quicker. I wish I would have just ran over to him to congratulate him, because I have a tremendous amount of respect for him. He's a hell of a coach, and he gets -- I mean, he has a system, and his team has a trademark of toughness which is admirable, and just a lot of respect for Curt and his staff. I thought they made great adjustments Game 3. We were just kind of pulling straws over there. Decided to go small, and I just felt like, I don't know if we'll stop them but I don't think they can stop us, either. And just scrapped defensively.
I told the girls at that time the beginning of the year. We have to be scrappers because there will be times we are just smaller than everybody, and just show the grit and the focus, and it's not always how tall you are to play this game. It's what matters in here (head) and in here (heart). Kelsey had a timely one. She's been timely all playoffs, just down the line.
Q. I found a headline from after your final collegiate season that said, "No One Will Ever Underestimate Becky Hammon Again." You alluded the other night to the times you haven't been picked. How do you feel in this moment given your history to win that first WNBA title?
BECKY HAMMON: I mean, my journey is not by mistake. Every hard thing that I've gone through has built something in me that I've needed down the road, and even though it sucks in the moment to not to be picked or to get hurt or whatever it might be, the hard stuff builds stuff in you that's necessary for life and you'll use it down the road. It may not feel like it in that moment.
For me, it's not really about proving other people wrong, it's about proving myself right. If you guys haven't figured out yet, I don't really care. You like me, you don't like me, I don't care. I'm just going to be myself and if you like me, great. If not, we just keep it moving.
Q. I think when people think about this Aces team, what's different from last year to this year, a lot of people point towards the offense and shooting more threes, but this was a team that has gone through multiple defensive schemes throughout the year. Was that something you wanted to have as a foundation to be able to toggle schemes? What went into that thought process?
BECKY HAMMON: Well, when I went back and watched, obviously, a lot of games from the last year, and just me watching the WNBA over the last eight seasons since I've left, really, just something to mix things up, really.
You know, we've tried different defense on Steph Curry, Dame Lillard. If we can junk it on them, we can junk it on anybody. It was just an idea to try to give people a different look to try to mix it up.
I think the bigger thing is the players really bought into it. It doesn't matter what scheme you're doing; the players have to believe in it. I think at the end of the day they saw enough good results that there's times when Chelsea is calling the defense, junk defense. I'm not even putting us in junk; she's putting us in junk. It's a fun way to play and it keeps the players locked in and alert because we do switch it up quite a bit.
Q. Forgive me if you addressed this a little earlier but Mr. Davis was talking about the desire to link all the past players that were with the Silver Stars, Starzz and Aces and that was the way he really got to know you. Can you talk about that whole decision of him wanting to link the franchises together led to this moment in some ways?
BECKY HAMMON: Yeah, I think they kind of hustled me a little bit (laughing). They flew me in, retired my jersey, and that's where I got to have my first conversations with Mark and Nikki. Was super impressed with their organization as a whole, just how they ran stuff, and at that point I had no intentions, zero, of coming back and being their coach.
And it wasn't until early December that -- it wasn't until like early December --
A'JA WILSON: All right. Boss, we've got a flight to catch.
BECKY HAMMON: My bosses have spoken. It's their stage.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports