Las Vegas Is Center Of Basketball World Ahead Of WNBA All-Star Game

Jul 13, 2023, 4:35 PM


A'ja Wilson #22 of the Las Vegas Aces walks back onto the court after a timeout in the fourth quarter of a game against the Indiana Fever at Michelob ULTRA Arena on June 26, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Aces defeated the Fever 88-80. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

LAS VEGAS (AP) — The timing and location of the WNBA All-Star Game couldn’t be much better.

Just in the past week, 19-year-old phenom Victor Wembanyama made his NBA debut in the Summer League to sold-out crowds at the nearby Thomas & Mack Center, league commissioner Adam Silver spoke openly about Las Vegas as a potential expansion candidate, and the Aces continued to roll through opponents to move to 19-2 as they seek a second straight WNBA title.

That’s a lot of basketball momentum ahead of the All-Star Game at Michelob Ultra Arena. The 3-point shooting contest and skills competitions take place Friday, and the game Saturday has been declared a sellout.

Team Wilson is captained by Aces star and two-time MVP A’ja Wilson, and she will be joined by three of her Las Vegas teammates when they take on Team Stewart, led by 2018 MVP Breanna Stewart of the New York Liberty.

Aces coach Becky Hammon, who will lead Team Wilson, noted that Las Vegas has a history as a basketball city. UNLV won the 1990 national championship and appeared in three other Final Fours, making Runnin’ Rebels games must-see events even in this entertainment-driven city.

“We just have the privilege and honor to be its first professional basketball team,” Hammon said. “But you go back to those early UNLV games, I think this town has always loved basketball. I played in conference tournaments here. But to have a product like this, a women’s team like this, I think people are excited to come visit. I think we’ve played our way into the conversation of being one of the best shows here.”

Hammon spoke after Tuesday night’s 98-72 victory over the Phoenix Mercury, which was played before a franchise-record crowd of 10,281 and was the team’s third sellout this season. Paul George, Donovan Mitchell and Bam Adebayo were among the NBA players watching, joined by former Duke and USA Basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski and Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas.

“The birth of Vegas sports outside of boxing has been amazing,” Thomas said. “It truly is becoming a hub of sports and entertainment, and the WNBA and the Vegas Aces are driving that.”

The NBA could be next. Silver has often referred to Las Vegas as the “31st franchise” because of the presence of all 30 teams at the Summer League each year.

And that relationship is growing with the NBA playing the final four games of its first in-season tournament in Las Vegas on Dec. 7 and 9.

“I like to believe the tournament games being held here next year has something to do with the NBA flirting with the idea of having a team,” George said. “Hopefully, that goes well. A heck of an NBA fan base here.”

Silver, when addressing the Associated Press Sports Editors convention in Las Vegas on Monday, didn’t tamp down speculation of the city as a potential expansion candidate. Once the NBA secures its multimedia contracts within the next couple of years, Silver said the league would consider adding teams.

“We will look at this market,” Silver said. “There’s no doubt there is (also) enormous interest in Seattle. It’s not a secret.”

For now, at least, the world’s best women’s players will call Las Vegas home for a couple of days, going through All-Star Game festivities and trying to put on a show for the fans.

“I think it’s great having it in Vegas,” said Minnesota Lynx forward Napheesa Collier, who will play in her third All-Star Game. “They’ve always done a really great job in the past, and having Summer League, there are extra people there who are interested in basketball. So I think it’s a great opportunity to convert even more women’s basketball fans.”

Are you on Threads yet? Let’s connect, give us a follow @kslsports

Want more coverage of the Las Vegas WNBA All-Star weekend? Take us with you, wherever you go.

Download the new & improved KSL Sports app from Utah’s sports leader. You can stream live radio, video and stay up to date on all of your favorite teams.

Professional Sports

Diego Luna Real Salt Lake MLS RSL Rocky Mountain Cup...

Chandler Holt

Real Salt Lake Loses Rocky Mountain Cup For First Time Since 2020

RSL lost a heartbreaker to the Colorado Rapids to end their Rocky Mountain Cup winning streak at three years.

1 hour ago

Andres Gomez RSL Real Salt Lake...

Chandler Holt

Andres Gomez Scores Brace To Even Score Following Weather Delay

After waiting nearly two hours to get back on the pitch with a weather delay, Andres Gomez came out firing and found the equalizer.

2 hours ago

Dicks Sporting Goods Park Real Salt Lake Colorado Rapids match weather delay...

Chandler Holt

Real Salt Lake, Colorado Rapids Match Goes Into Weather Delay

The match between Real Salt Lake and Colorado will have an extra long halftime break as the match was sent into a weather delay.

4 hours ago

Andres Gomez RSL Real Salt Lake...

Chandler Holt

Andres Gomez Puts Real Salt Lake On Top In Rocky Mountain Cup Decider

A lot was riding on the RSL match in Colorado on Saturday but Andres Gomez showed early that he thrives under pressure.

5 hours ago

Utah Jazz waive Los Angeles Clippers guard Russell Westbrook...

Chandler Holt

Utah Jazz Officially Waive Guard Russell Westbrook

The Utah Jazz officially waived Russell Westbrook on Saturday, clearing the way for the veteran guard to join his next team via free agency.

7 hours ago

Ashleigh Johnson 2024 Paris Olympics Water Polo Team USA...

Chandler Holt

Ashleigh Johnson Credits Siblings’ Challenges For Shaping Her Olympic Journey

U.S. water polo goalkeeper Ashleigh Johnson grew up with four siblings who constantly challenged her and pushed her to be her best.

7 hours ago

Sponsored Articles


KSL Sports

Utah Hockey Newsletter: Sign Up Now

Want to get the latest info on Utah's newest sports franchise? Sign up for the Utah Hockey newsletter!


KSL Sports

KSL Sports Newsletter: Sign Up Now

Sign up today for the KSL Sports newsletter. Get the latest Utah sports news delivered to your inbox.


KSL Sports

Jazz Notes Newsletter: Sign Up Now

Sign up today for the Jazz Notes newsletter. Get insider analysis, game recaps and opportunities to win tickets!

3 kids wearing real salt lake jerseys smiling...

Real Salt Lake

6 Reasons You Need to Experience a RSL Matchday

RSL Games are a great way to spend time with your family with fun activities, good food, and traditions you can only experience at the field.

High angle view of the beautiful Rose Bowl Stadium...

KSL Digital Sales

How to Prepare for the 2023 Rose Bowl

Everything you need to know to plan your 2023 Rose Bowl trip in Pasadena, California. This year, the Utes will face Penn State.


KSL Digital Sales

Notable Moments From The Utah Jazz Season… So Far

At the beginning of the season, the Utah Jazz were second to last. Now they rank in the top 10 teams in the Western Conference.

Las Vegas Is Center Of Basketball World Ahead Of WNBA All-Star Game