Gray Matters: Chelsea Gray leads Aces to Commissioners Cup title


Four Aces were All-Stars this year. Three aces have won player of the week awards this year. None of these Aces are called Chelsea Gray. And yet, in their biggest game of the season, Gray was the one walking away with the gear.

MID-SEASON CHAMPIONS

On Tuesday night, the Las Vegas Aces defeated the Chicago Sky 93-83 in the second WNBA Commissioner’s Cup. Gray had 19 points, four rebounds and five assists, plus a steal and a block en route to winning the Commissioner’s Cup MVP award.

However, she didn’t run away with the (full size) trophy. Jackie Young scored 18 on an effective 8-13 from the floor. Kelsey Plum led all scorers with 24 points. A’ja Wilson set a dominant stat line, with 17 points, 17 rebounds, six blocks, two assists and two steals.

Maybe Gray isn’t putting up the flashy numbers some of his teammates are doing. Maybe game management is less exciting than shot blocking and 3-point scoring. And perhaps the ever-enigmatic concept of “commercialization” is keeping the eight-year-old vet from getting the recognition she deserves.

But on an important night in July, the spotlight found Gray. And instead of basking in her glow, she redirected it to her teammates.

“Those are my dogs, man, they support me,” Gray said after the game, “I wouldn’t hold this MVP trophy without them. It could have gone to so many different people. Everyone was locked in and played well. today, so I’m really lucky to be able to hold on.

GRAY’S IMPACT

Gray’s numbers this season won’t jump off the page. But its impact goes far beyond the stat sheet. And her teammates and coaches went out of their way to recognize that impact on Tuesday night.

“I mean, Chelsea are a player,” head coach Becky Hammon said after the game, “She’s a big part of what we do. She’s the extension of the coach there. Shit , I’m his assistant. I tell them all the time, ‘If Chelsea call something and I call something, you listen to Chelsea. So when the head coach calls something, you execute it.

Hammon also praised Gray’s ability to calm everyone down in high pressure situations.

“To me, she’s the chill factor,” Hammon said, “When things get a little hot, out of control, the pressure starts to build, she’s the coldest.”

Gray won a championship in 2016 with the LA Sparks, making her the only Ace with a WNBA title on her resume. She also played in more regular season games than anyone on the roster. Clearly, Gray’s experience is his most valuable asset.

His passing and his game are on another level. She ranks third in the league in assists this year. At least once per game, she pulls off a pass that seems almost impossible.

“I just want to set the record straight,” Plum said of Gray after the match, “She’s the best point guard in the world.”

PREVIEW OF THE FINAL?

After the game, many fans talked about the possibility of seeing these two teams in the final. It makes sense; the Sky are the defending champions and have the best record in the league. Vegas leads Chicago by just one game in the standings.

There’s a reason these two teams ended up with the best records in Commissioner’s Cup qualifiers. Nobody would be surprised if we got a rematch of this game for all the marbles. Plus, the Aces’ win suggests they have the firepower to beat the Sky should that happen.

The Aces aren’t ready to go that far, however.

“It’s just one game, and we’re happy to win it,” Hammon said, “But it’s not the ultimate goal.”

Wilson echoed a similar sentiment.

“I feel like the real season is just beginning for us,” she said, “It’s just the beginning. We’re going to integrate it, but we haven’t finished. We know what’s ahead of us. And we just have to make sure we’re taking care of business the right way.


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