A’ja Wilson can make basketball look easy. She proved that Tuesday, leading the Las Vegas Aces to a 2-0 lead in the WNBA semifinals even after dealing with the stinging disappointment of her MVP snub.
The two-time WNBA MVP finished third in the voting for the award this season. Missing out on her second consecutive MVP award “hurt like hell,” she said before Tuesday’s game against the Dallas Wings.
Wilson responded to the snub by putting up 30 points and 11 rebounds in a 91-84 victory. The 27-year-old forward is the first player in WNBA history to score at least 30 points in three consecutive postseason games. And after the win, Wilson noted that there is still more to do.
“This award, it’s a cherry on top of all the mountain of ice cream that we’ve built up,” Wilson said. “The sundae is still good without the cherry. This team still has so much more to do.”
The Aces are seeking their second consecutive WNBA championship. They won the first title in franchise history in 2022.
“This is playoff basketball; these are the moments that we play for,” Wilson continued. “People want to hear: ‘Oh, [not winning MVP] is going to fuel her.’ But I’ve been fueled since I stepped foot in this league.”
Her ease with the basketball hasn’t gone unnoticed by other coaches around the league. Washington Mystics coach Eric Thibault told The Athletic that she looked “so comfortable” after Wilson dropped 40 on his team.
“The numbers she’s putting up and everything, it doesn’t look forced, it doesn’t look rushed. She plays on her time and her tempo,” he said. “She doesn’t force. She doesn’t take many bad shots. And I think that’s one thing about the great players in our league — she’s obviously in that group — is you don’t feel like you can speed them up. You don’t feel like you can rattle them, and she just looks so poised.”
Her Aces teammate Kelsey Plum called her a “selfless superstar.”
“We all talk about her and her talent and the way that she plays the game, but I don’t think we talk enough about her effort,” Plum said. “I just think she plays harder than everyone. When you have a superstar that actually plays that hard all the time, it’s unguardable.
“It’s just a pleasure to play with someone that just competes and doesn’t have an ego and just wants to win. And you see that, she wins everywhere she goes.”
Wilson has set her sights on becoming an all-time great in the game of basketball. And this season, there’s always been one goal: win another WNBA championship.
“I want another, I’m greedy,” Wilson told The Athletic. “I’m a pretty greedy person. I mean, I’ll give the shirt off my back to anyone, but when it comes to my career and my legacy, I’m greedy. I want it all.”