Aja Wilson #22 of the Las Vegas ICE holds the 2022 WNBA Championship Trophy. Chris Marion/NBAE via Getty Images.
Uncasville, Connecticut – Aja Wilson explained how she felt inside as soon as the last bell sounded on Sunday afternoon. She and her team were officially the new WNBA champions. After her 78-71 win over the Connecticut Sun, Wilson stomped on the Mohegan Sun floor on foot with her new gray hat in hand.
She then turned and turned away from the cameras to capture her feelings and confronted the ace fans who had traveled all the way to Connecticut from Las Vegas. She raised her arms outward, yelling to amplify and celebrate with them from afar. “Yes Yes!” Screamed.
Combined with her two-way prowess on the court that propelled the ace to a 3-1 victory, Wilson was injecting passion and energy into the Vegas fans. She was showing them love and reminding them how important they were.
“I just think it just gets the fans going,” Kelsey Plum told B/R a few days ago about Wilson and her leadership style. “I mean, I’ve seen her, you know, celebrate afterward and the ones that make, you know, play, defensive blocks. I think it’s just kind of like admiration that brings us a lot of energy. And so like this guy that we depend on to kind of like, you know, Make it explode here.”
After Wilson interacted with Aces fans, reserve guard Sidney Coulson approached her teammate, tapped her to get her attention and made a sleepy gesture with her hands on her head. Reverse Wilson Coulson. What followed was Coulson lying on the floor and Wilson put the official championship shirt on like a sheet. The ace had put the sun to sleep.
Wilson did a little dance around Coulson while she was lying on the floor and then helped her up. The MVP of 2022 gave her a chest bump. Colson Wilson has known for a while. She was on aces in 2019 when the franchise made its playoff debut but fell in the semi-finals to eventual champion Washington Mystics. She watched Colson Wilson grow before her eyes.
Three years ago at the age of 23, Wilson was a reluctant star, someone who didn’t really know how to use her voice and take over the team she was drafted to lead and be his face. Two Top Players (2020 and 2022) and Best Defensive Player of the Year Later, Coulson saw the blossoming and opening of someone she knew was destined for a moment like this.
“She’s a really different player than 2019, honestly,” Coulson said. “Just with the way she worked at her game, her willingness to finally start talking to people, talking on the bench. When you come in for a timeout and talk, you’ll listen. Because you know she’s doing what she’s supposed to do and she has the respect of the team. So it’s good to see that she’s arrived. to this point.”
How did Wilson get to this point? Especially after season after season in which he failed to win the WNBA Championship? After losing the semi-finals in 2019, she swept her team in the 2020 finals and then lost his fingernails in Game Five to Phoenix Mercury in the 2021 semi-finals. Wilson shook with this loss and that unique moment she was in Ban by Britney Greiner ends her team’s career in 2021 after the end of the season. “I did my best, but it wasn’t enough, and it didn’t go well with me at all,” Wilson Tell Alexa Filippo from ESPN. She had to make a change.
She got into the best shape of her life to become a two-way presence. She took off just four minutes in the 2022 semi-final, and in the fourth game of this year’s finals, she didn’t leave the floor for a moment.
In addition to adding a pivotal three-point shot that would allow her to thrive and operate easily in new novice coach Becky Hammon’s divergent system, Wilson has embraced who she needs to be defensive. She needed to be the anchor and lead for a team with more consistent talent at the offensive end.
This is what most caught Hamon’s attention to Wilson. Once Hammon accepted the Aces job, she watched all the movies she could about Wilson and the team that was assigned to coach him. When she mirrored what she had seen in her early film sessions with the player she’s now coaching, there was a clear difference. Hammon “didn’t know” that Wilson’s defensive prowess had the potential to reach another level. Hammon explained that Wilson’s style of play and the “closing factor” starts defensively.
Aja Wilson #22 celebrates with coach Becky Hammon. Maddy Meyer/Getty Images
“I ask her,” said Hamon, “whose paint is this for?” Offensive and defensive, who owns this paint? Who is this paint? And we’ll use nicer words here, but I’m basically [saying] It’s your paint. Then go to work protecting him. We live and die with how she goes about her business there. We live now.”
But aside from new and improved abilities on the field, Wilson won’t get a ring unless she becomes the leader her teammates always knew she could be. After Aces’ Game 1 win on September 11, while describing her driving style, Wilson admitted she didn’t fully realize how important her role on this team was until the 2022 season.
huh? How? How can a franchise player who has already won the MVP title not understand how important she is on this team? And how much did this team need her voice?
For Wilson, her reluctance came from being a coworker in tact. Don’t often start to own the ball. Plame and the 2022 Finals Chelsea Gray’s best player. But then Wilson realized she didn’t have to get the ball to be the Aces’ most important player on and off the field. She had to do exactly what Hammon told her. She needed to own paint. She also needed to take ownership of the locker room.
Sharp shooting guard Rickona Williams explained to B/R that Wilson couldn’t live up to her potential without a more aggressive, intentional drive. That’s what she saw in 2022. But Wilson’s driving is different from the way Gray’s drives the Aces.
“A’s not so much like Chelsea, like the vocal leader,” Williams said. “A will come over to the side and talk to you, but when you’re done, she’ll go up and speak like Chelsea. But you can’t be that great and try to hide – it’s impossible – as if you were meant for greatness.”
According to Bloom, Wilson has mastered what she calls “team languages”. The twice best player has figured out how to motivate her teammates and make them feel their best in order to give their best. For a player like Jackie Young, she needs more encouragement, but for a player like Bloom, she needs intense love and someone like Wilson to be even more difficult towards her. This is exactly what happened in Game 2 when Bloom confessed Live TV broadcast That Wilson cursed her.
residual positive @presidency
Aja Wilson tells the truth: “Just shoot her. What’s the worst that will happen? Who cares? Shoot him. We get paid to shoot.” pic.twitter.com/mN7xRwz4gY
“You’re talking about love languages,” Bloom said. “Everyone has their teammate languages, like what people need to feel their best and play their best, and she’s done a tremendous job at that.”
When B/R spoke to Wilson A little over a year ago While she was competing in the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, she was still trying to find her footing – not only in the women’s national team but also as a captain in the Aces. She was still quite respectful, allowing Sue Bird’s old guard and Sylvia Fowls to dictate what to do while in Tokyo. But after winning her first WNBA Championship, Wilson is expected to take that new leadership with her to Sydney, where the national team is currently preparing for the 2022 FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup.
“I’ll never forget when we won the medal Sue Bird said, ‘Okay, it’s your turn now,'” Wilson said when asked about the World Cup last week. “I’m like, ‘Huh?'” When you really think about it, it’s me and Stewie [Breanna Stewart]. I don’t know who’s going to speak in the timeout now.”
But Wilson must know who to speak in the timeout. She will be. By winning her first WNBA Championship, she proved that her newfound voice can lead to greatness and accomplishments at the highest level.
But how does Wilson do that? How did she gracefully carry the weight that comes with such a rich legacy at the age of 26? For her, it’s all about the people around her. It is the people in this locker room who allow her to be herself at all times and who give her the strength to face the challenges of being a face to every space she enters. He will also be her peers on Team USA.
“My colleagues put me in a position where I can be my best and I can count on them through thick and thin,” She said She is drenched in champagne and has goggles on her head. “I am not what I am without them. I would not be who I am without them.”