wnba

Aces’ Wilson proves she’s league’s best in win at Dallas

Michael Gonzalez-NBA Photos
Aces center A'ja Wilson registered a historic performance against the Wings in Dallas on Wednesday night amid the WNBA's proximity to a national firestorm.

Make no mistake. A’ja Wilson of the Aces is the best player on the planet. 

The Aces superstar tallied 36 points on a remarkable 15 of 22 from the field, adding 12 rebounds and 6 steals in Wednesday’s 95-81 victory at Dallas. According to Across the Timeline, it was the first time a WNBA player had at least 35 points, 10 rebounds and 5 steals. 

Wilson was dominant from the outset, starting the game 8 of 9 from the field on her way to 20 first-half points.

“I’ve been on a tirade, probably since last year when she finished where she did (in the MVP voting),” Becky Hammon said. “People are like, why are her numbers like that? I’m like, because she’s playing in the fourth quarter.

“Last year, I said if I played her more minutes, she’d be averaging 28 and 13, and that’s all anybody would be talking about. Well, she’s playing now in the fourth quarter more, because we’re not having those blowout wins like we were last year.”

The biggest obstacle for Wilson was overcoming the referees, who by all available evidence were turning a blind eye to her all night. Wilson was battered throughout the game and went to the bench to clean blood off her face on two separate occasions. 

“It’s just frustrating,” Wilson said. “We’re going to keep playing, we’re going to keep pushing, but one thing about our locker room and who we are, we’re not going back down.

“I don’t think we’ve got refs that swung our way in a minute, so we’re not expecting to get anything. We have to go out there and take everything, so we’re going to continue to push.”

There’s been a lot of buzz this week about the WNBA’s perceived lack of protection of their “golden goose” Caitlin Clark. It doesn’t take a sociologist to determine why Wilson’s plight on Wednesday will get less than a sliver of the attention Clark’s incidents have received, but the WNBA’s responsibility to protect Wilson is just as prudent. 

Wilson’s status as the league’s best player is as objective of a truth as Clark’s status as the sport’s biggest draw. We can debate why the fever pitch around Clark has reached the levels it has until the cows come home, but at 27-years old, Wilson’s reign of dominance in this league is far from over.

The Aces have three of their four core members locked up through the 2025 season, with a Kelsey Plum extension looming on the horizon. Beyond that, none of them have expressed anything other than an explicit desire to remain with the Aces organization. 

Oh, and they have a coach who’s been considered one of the game’s legitimate masterminds.

This run isn’t ending. Not anytime soon. Thus, Wilson will continue to compile what will likely go down as the most complete résumé in the history of women’s basketball and quite possibly in the sport entirely. 

Now why bring all of this up? Because for four days now, everyone around the WNBA has had to listen the national outcry about the WNBA’s perceived mistreatment of one specific player. 

Well, a few things about that. 

If Wednesday’s game was anything, it was further proof that this league hands nothing to anybody. Including a player who by all means should have earned a superstar whistle by now with two rings and two MVPs. 

It was also proof that the power balance in the WNBA isn’t going to shift anytime soon. Hype is just hype. This thing the Aces built is real. It’s sustainable.

What Caitlin Clark, Angel Reese and Cameron Brink have done for the sport is remarkable, but their WNBA careers could very well be reduced to being footnotes of the Aces and A’ja Wilson’s dominance.

“I love the energy that we bring,” Wilson said. “I love the fun of it, so that’s what drives me, just hooping, knowing that there’s a young kid in the stands that’s amazed at us playing, the entertainment side of it. 

‘It’s a blessing, something that I don’t take for granted, so I really don’t care about the outside noise at all.”

It makes sense that Tom Brady bought a stake in the Aces, because this run is going to look an awful lot like the New England Patriots. Wilson’s mentality is strikingly similar to the one that led to seven Super Bowl rings for the legendary quarterback.

“This is an honor to be in this league,” Wilson said. “I’m not going to take any game off. 

“That’s disrespectful to my team. That’s disrespectful to my coaches. So when the rock is tossed up, just go out there and have fun.”