A first-of-its-kind sponsorship has hit the WNBA, with the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) announcing on Friday it would be supporting all 12 players of the two-time WNBA champion Las Vegas Aces.

The deal grants each player $100,000 dollars in exchange for representing the city in 2024 and 2025.

"The offer's really simple: We want you to just play, we want you to keep repping Las Vegas, and if you do a three-peat, that'd be icing on the cake," LVCVA president and CEO Steve Hill told the team in a video released Friday.

The news comes as WNBA salaries and team caps continue to be a point of contention in the league. With many players making less than $100,000 a year, outside sponsors have long helped bridge the financial gap for players. 

On Saturday, Aces coach Becky Hammon said that the local tourism bureau had reached out to all of the players individually via their agents, leaving the Aces organization out of the conversation entirely. The goal was to avoid breaking cap circumvention rules established by the league’s CBA.

"I'm going to put it to you real simple like this: Most of sponsorship people go after the top two people," Hammon said. "[A'ja Wilson] is taken care of — she's got plenty of stuff going on. [Kelsey Plum] has plenty of stuff. In this situation, from what I understand, is they wanted the whole team. So they went and called individuals, agents. I don't know the details. 

"I have nothing to do with it; the Aces don't have anything to do with it. It's just odd, but that's basically what happened."

Despite the apparent separation, the WNBA has launched an investigation into the legality of the sponsorship, according to multiple sources

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While the sponsorship does not directly violate the league-wide salary cap because the LVCVA did not orchestrate the sponsorship with the club, other teams are likely to raise questions about its fairness and whether or not it violates the spirit of the cap rules. The deal could potentially upend the balance of what teams are able to offer players in the free agency market.

"We have 100 influencers we pay to represent Las Vegas," Hill told the Associated Press. "This isn’t any different then that. All of these ladies are completely eligible to have sponsorships. We are just asking them to represent Vegas."

It’s not the first time the league has investigated the Aces for cap circumnavigation. Just last year, the team faced consequences — Hammon was suspended for two games while the team lost its 2025 first-round draft pick — for crossing league rules regarding impermissible player benefits and workplace policies.

"We get [things] from our agents all the time; they wanted it to be a big moment because it's something that's never happened before," Aces star forward A'ja Wilson said about the LVCVA's offer. "I don't understand the investigation; I haven't dived into it yet. I just looked at my phone [after the game] and was like, 'Oh, wow, just another day in the life of the Aces.' We can't ever start just normal, it's always going to be something, and that's okay."

The Las Vegas Aces celebrated their second-straight WNBA title on Tuesday with a banner raising and championship ring ceremony — as well as a pregame pep talk from NFL legend Tom Brady

It all unfolded before the Aces took on the Mercury in front of a sellout home crowd at Michelob Ultra Arena. 

Included in the ring design is the team’s 2023 motto, "Aces vs. Everybody," as well as 34 diamonds encrusting the team’s name to commemorate their league-record 34 regular season wins. It also features two trophies, signifying the back-to-back titles, with the trophy bases forming a reference to the franchise’s 14 playoff appearances. 

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"We're back," team owner Mark Davis announced during Tuesday's celebration. "Not only are we back, we're back-to-back world champions. All I can say is let's three-peat."

"We're so grateful to have a fan base that is supportive of us," two-time MVP A’ja Wilson told fans. "We're blessed to be in this situation. We worked our butts off to get to this point, so we just want to say thank you."

Brady’s attendance was a surprise for the players, with coach Becky Hammon saying she purposely didn’t tell players beforehand that the Aces minority owner would be visiting.

"I thought it would be cool to bring a sports figure in who's not only invested in our team, but also knows a few things about winning," Hammon said, smiling. "Just let him have the floor. He's somebody who has sat where they've sat — chasing history and trying to be the greatest.

"Those things don't just happen. You really have to be intentional about your work, your approach... And about winning the moments. We're certainly happy that he came and shared some of his knowledge and passion and really love for women's sports."

Brady shared a special message with the team ahead of the game, with Wilson adding a bit of insight after the final buzzer. The 2023 Finals MVP led the team with 30 points, 13 rebounds, and five assists in the Aces' 89-80 win over the Mercury.

"He was saying, 'The banners are always going to be there, so you don't have to try to defend that. Just go do what you've been doing,'" Wilson said. "That message made the night for me. Because I feel like we get so caught up in, 'Oh, my God, we've got to three-peat.' 

“But that banner is going to be there forever. My ring is going to be in the trophy case forever. Let me focus on getting better, and then that's when everything else flows."

And as for the ring?

"The ring is nice... It's huge," Wilson said. "I was not expecting that. It's like diamonds all the way around — bling, bling, bling, bling, bling."

The 2024 WNBA season got off to a hot start on Tuesday, seeming to pick up right where it left off last year. 

Las Vegas got a win, Alyssa Thomas got a triple-double, and Caitlin Clark had her "Welcome to the W" moment. 

The performance from Thomas — 13 points, 10 rebounds, 13 assists — continued a trend she started a year ago, when she posted up seven triple-doubles in a single season to bring her career total to 11. A finalist for league MVP last season, she dropped her name into the early MVP conversation last night.

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"I think people thought it was a fluke to put up those kinds of numbers [last year]," Thomas said after the game. "It was unheard of. But this is my game. This is how I play each and every night. Pretty much every game last season, I flirted with a triple-double."

DeWanna Bonner made her own history on Tuesday, passing Candice Dupree for fifth on the WNBA all-time career scoring list. Sun guards Ty Harris and DiJonai Carrington also emerged as game standouts, the latter of whom spent the majority of the night guarding Clark — and locked her down in the process.

Clark’s first official game was filled with highs and lows as she put up a team-high 20 points but also committed a WNBA-record 10 turnovers in her debut. 

Another finalist for league MVP last year, A’ja Wilson put up big numbers in her first game of the season with 30 points and 13 rebounds. 17 of those points came within nine minutes of one another. 

While the lead flip-flipped a bit throughout the four quarters, the defending champions ended up beating Phoenix 89-80. 

In DC, the Liberty held off Washington 85-80 behind a 25-point performance from Jonquel Jones. Reigning league MVP Breanna Stewart notched eight points and eight rebounds in her first outing of 2024.

Minnesota, meanwhile, got their season off to a winning start thanks to a 20-point, 12-rebound performance from Napheesa Collier and a 22-point performance from Alanna Smith. Nneka Ogwumike had 20 points and nine rebounds in her first official game in a Storm jersey.

Next up: The Dallas Wings square off with Angel Reese and the Chicago Sky at 8 PM ET, followed by the Los Angeles Sparks and Atlanta Dream at 10 PM ET. Both will be available to stream on WNBA League Pass.

The WNBA 28th season officially begins on Tuesday, May 14th.

A four-game doubleheader is set to kick things off on opening day, with a sold-out matchup featuring Caitlin Clark’s regular season debut with the Indiana Fever leading the charge. A'ja Wilson and the reigning champion Las Vegas Aces will also be in action, going up against the Phoenix Mercury at 10 PM ET in the evening's second act. 

First up are the New York Liberty and Washington Mystics, with 2023 league MVP Breanna Stewart hoping to once again guide her team back to the WNBA Finals. Last year, Stewart led the team in scoring with 23.1 points per game, while the Liberty notched a league-best 11.1 three-pointers per game last season. 

For their part, the Mystics find themselves without longtime forward Elena Delle Donne this season. Rookie Aaliyah Edwards will attempt to fill the void, being one to watch as Washington looks to turn the page on its next chapter.

At 7:30 PM ET, the Fever face the perennially dangerous Connecticut Sun. Indiana is coming off their best season since 2019, finishing the year 13 and 27 overall. Armed with 2024's No. 1 draft pick, they're now looking to make their first playoffs appearance since 2016. This could be one of the first true tests for the much-hyped Caitlin Clark, as the rookie squares off with Sun starter DeWanna Bonner.

The 10 PM ET bill keeps things going with the 2024 WNBA title-winning Aces hosting the Mercury at Michelob ULTRA Arena in Las Vegas. Despite losing superstar Candace Parker to retirement in April, the Aces' roster remains stacked with household names Sydney Colson, Kelsey Plum, and Kiah Stokes complementing rookie Kate Martin and two-time league MVP Wilson. They'll need to harness some of that 2023 champion chemistry on the court if they want to one-up a veteran-heavy Phoenix squad.

Rounding out the night is a Seattle team headlined by offseason additions Nneka Ogwumike and Skylar Diggins-Smith plus 2024 draft pick, UConn alum Nika Mühl. Paired up with team stalwart Jewell Loyd, the powerful arrangement could make for a sneaky sleeper pick for the WNBA Finals. Minnesota, meanwhile, won both of its preseason games, with 2024 draftee Alissa Pili putting up some solid performances under the basket. Pili, alongside Napheesa Collier and Diamond Miller, could form a tough defensive wall capable of silencing even the most offensively gifted opponents.

Tuesday, May 14th:

Wednesday, May 15th:

Two-time WNBA champion and league MVP A’ja Wilson is getting her own shoe

The WNBA star announced the pending arrival of her long-awaited Nike signature on Saturday, the same day that the Las Vegas Aces played the Puerto Rican national team at South Carolina. The preseason matchup was a homecoming for Wilson, who played for the Gamecocks and grew up in Columbia —making it a fitting moment to drop the news. 

Wilson showed up to the arena with a sweatshirt that read "Of Course I Have A Shoe Dot Com," revealing a URL that redirects to Nike’s website. The sneaker will be called the A’One.

The shoe — along with Wilson’s signature collection — will arrive in 2025. Having first signed with the athletic mega-brand as a rookie in 2018, the former No. 1 draft pick has reportedly been refining designs with Nike for over a year. 

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"It's been incredible working with Nike toward a dream of having my collection, and it really is an honor to take this next step and become a Nike signature athlete," Wilson said in Saturday's press release. "From my logo to the look of the shoe and the pieces throughout the collection, we've worked to make sure every detail is perfectly tuned to my game and style."

She told Andscape’s Aaron Dodson that the highlight for her was being able to announce the drop in conjunction with the Aces’ trip to her alma mater and hometown.

"The biggest thing for me is I get to showcase what I've been working on for a couple of years now in my home state, in my home city," Wilson said. "A place where people watched me grow and I raised eyebrows like, 'Is she really that good?!' To then seeing me in college and now in the pros."

When the A'One debuts, the 27-year-old will most likely be the 14th WNBA athlete to receive a signature shoe. Current players with active shoe contracts include Breanna Stewart, Elena Delle Donne, and Sabrina Ionescu. Caitlin Clark is next in line to receive a shoe in her new deal with Nike, although the brand has yet to confirm that detail.

After talk of Clark's shoe-inclusive Nike deal hit the headlines in mid-April, questions arose around Wilson's lack of signature footwear, with many pointing to a dearth of Black representation within the recent influx of shoe collaborations. The last Black WNBA player to receive her own shoe was Candace Parker with Adidas in 2010, while Wilson marks the first Black WNBA player to ink a Nike shoe agreement since Sheryl Swoopes in 2002.

Wilson has been working with Nike on refining her signature shoe design for over a year. (Nike)

"There's definitely value in patience," Wilson told Andscape. "That's something [South Carolina] Coach [Dawn] Staley has taught me — that some of the best things come from waiting and 'what's delayed is not denied.' That's something I have tatted on me. That's something I live through. So it's something I'm going to stick through."

In a news release, Nike said they were "proud to introduce A'ja Wilson as the newest member of the brand's signature family, marking the next chapter of partnership with one of basketball's greatest athletes."

Wilson is working with the same shoe designer that partnered with Ionescu, as well as Kyrie Irving before the Mavericks shooting guard parted ways with Nike in 2022. Wilson's upcoming signature collection will be "inspired by her distinctive style, incredible performance, and unapologetic realness," per Nike. "As one of the most iconic basketball players of her generation, of course, she got a shoe," they added.

Wilson’s hopes for the shoe is that girls wearing it can "feel powerful and understand that nobody can stop them from their dreams."

"It’s been an incredible ride, but there’s a lot of weight lifted off my shoulders now because it was starting to get hard," Wilson told Andscape. "But with the movement and growth of the game, I feel like this was the perfect time to say, 'Hey, I got a shoe on the way.'"

The Las Vegas Aces want to take their talents to a different type of game –”Family Feud.”

On Sunday, Kiah Stokes posted on X (formerly Twitter) about the game show, asking if there was any way the two-time reigning WNBA champions could be featured as contestants. She even wanted to take the pitch directly to host Steve Harvey.

“Can we go on ‘Family Feud’??” she wrote, speaking about the Aces. “Who got Steve’s number?”

The Aces have had quite the championship tour, which already has included attending Usher’s residency in Las Vegas. And everyone – including the Aces’ social media admin – appeared to be on board with a potential “Family Feud” appearance.

“Let’s goooooo!! I’m down someone let Steve know!!” A’ja Wilson wrote.

“Count me in!!!!” Alysha Clark added.

“Oh yeah I guess I shoulda asked if y’all would be down,” Stokes responded.

Meanwhile, the Aces kept tweeting out Steve Harvey reactions with various captions, including calling out Sydney Colson – whose answers would undoubtedly warrant a classic Harvey reaction.

“We would be doin’ the most,” Colson wrote Monday.

Joyce Edwards committed to South Carolina over LSU and Clemson. A conversation with WNBA star A’ja Wilson helped cement the decision for one of the top prospects in the class of 2024.

While Gamecocks head coach Dawn Staley did a lot to bring in Edwards, who is the second-ranked prospect in the class, so did Wilson. Edwards had planned to wait until April to make her decision, when the regular signing period opens, but a meeting with the two-time WNBA champion during the Gamecocks’ 114-76 win over Maryland on Sunday helped seal the deal.

“Me and A’ja had a good conversation at halftime,” Edwards told the Greenville News. “All of the returning players there were really cool, but I had a conversation with A’ja specifically, because we play the most similar. She gave me a lot of good advice.”

South Carolina sophomore Chloe Kitts also provided a nudge, as the two played together this summer for Team USA at the FIBA U-19 World Cup. Kitts was “in her ear” the “whole time during USA Basketball” urging her to choose the Gamecocks, she said.

“I’m just so happy for her either way, even if she didn’t choose here,” Kitts said. “I actually sent her a message when I saw her top three just saying, do what’s best for you and where makes you happy. If it’s not here, then that’s OK. Go where you feel like you’re going to succeed.”

A native of South Carolina, Edwards chose to stay home with the Gamecocks, despite a big push from defending champion LSU. Staley is someone that she knows she can “count on” for anything, Edwards said.

“My top three schools were all kind of the whole package for me, but I knew I wanted to win as many national championships as possible, and Dawn really convinced me she can get me to that level,” Edwards said.

There was also the matter of her education. South Carolina does not have the specific engineering major that Edwards wanted, which almost kept her from the Gamecocks. But Staley worked with the university’s honors college to ensure that she could get the right degree.

“She tried her hardest and found ways to do it so I can get both experiences for my academics and athletics. It was just how hard she worked to not give up (on me),” Edwards said.

No. 1 South Carolina basketball is off to a historic start. The Gamecocks are averaging 107.0 points per game through their first two games of the season, shooting them up the AP Top 25 from No. 6 to No. 1. 

Such high-quality play is not uncommon under head coach Dawn Staley. And it shows in the program’s WNBA legacy. 

Staley has coached the Gamecocks since 2008, and since then, she’s helped produce multiple WNBA stars. Reigning WNBA Finals MVP A’ja Wilson, 2023 Rookie of the Year Aliyah Boston, Tiffany Mitchell, Allisha Gray, Laeticia Amihere and more professional players came from Staley’s program.

“We produce pros,” Staley said. “The very best in the league. And if that’s not proof in the pudding, then this isn’t the place for you.”

South Carolina women’s basketball didn’t have this winning reputation when Staley took the helm in 2008, though. 

In 2008 and 2009, Staley and the Gamecocks had losing seasons. But every season thereafter, their record improved. South Carolina secured its first No. 1 ranking and its first Final Four appearance during the 2014-15 season. By 2022, the Gamecocks have appeared in four Final Fours and they’ve collected seven SEC tournament victories and two NCAA championships, among other accolades. 

Staley referred to her players as “the storytellers of the program.” While that may be true, South Carolina basketball likely would not have the WNBA pedigree that it has today without Staley’s coaching and guidance. 

When it comes to Halloween, A’ja Wilson always aces the assignment.

The 2023 WNBA Finals MVP dressed as all five characters from “Codename: Kids Next Door,” an animated series that ran on Cartoon Network from 2002 to 2006. She pulled off a similarly impressive costume in 2022, when she dressed as all five characters from “Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!”

And she was far from the only name from women’s sports to get in on the Halloween action. Here are some of the standout costumes from the holiday.

A’ja Wilson, Las Vegas Aces

Wilson doesn’t skimp on the details for “Operation: H.A.L.L.O.W.E.E.N.” Just take a look at her Instagram gallery, which shows the costumed Aces star next to each character.

Kerry Washington, actress

The 46-year-old actress, best known for her role as Olivia Pope in “Scandal,” dressed as American sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson — or in this case, Sha’Kerry. Richardson won the world title in the 100-meter dash in August.

San Diego Wave

The No. 1 seed in the NWSL playoffs, the Wave are preparing for Sunday’s semifinal against OL Reign. But that didn’t stop them from celebrating Halloween.

Shae Yanez stole the show, dressing up as head coach Casey Stoney, cooler and all. Other costumes included Meggie Dougherty Howard as Wednesday Addams, and Madison Pogarch and Christen Westphal combining for a tribute to painter Bob Ross.

Morgan Weaver, Portland Thorns

The 26-year-old forward showed up for training dressed as Harry Potter — and assistant coach Robert Gale stepped in as Draco Malfoy. No. 2 seed Portland is preparing to host Gotham FC in the NWSL semifinals.

Ghosts of Halloween costumes past

In addition to the new crop of costumes, we brought back some of the best from past years, including Sam Kerr and Kristie Mewis, Lynn Williams, Alex Morgan, Sydney Leroux and more.

A’ja Wilson’s second WNBA Championship felt different, she said on the Jennifer Hudson Show on Friday.

The Las Vegas Aces won their second consecutive WNBA title this month after defeating the New York Liberty 3-1 in the best-of-five series. Wilson was named WNBA Finals MVP after averaging 23.8 points and 11.8 rebounds per game in the 2023 playoffs.

“The first one was cool, but this one, this second championship, it got my soul. It hit different,” Wilson told Hudson.

After the Liberty’s last shot attempt missed the net at the buzzer in Game 4, sealing the Aces’ win, Wilson celebrated and then was overcome with emotions.

“I cried to my parents,” she said. “I’m a huge family girl and they sacrificed so much for me, so to have them on the court with me after we won, I cried like a baby because it was just a wonderful moment…

“The second (title), just everything that we’d been through, fighting through that adversity and being able to share that moment, it was something truly special. So I cried with them, went to the locker room, popped a couple bottles, and then I got back.”

Wilson and her Aces teammates have been taking full advantage of the championship celebrations this week. They walked the Las Vegas Strip during their championship parade on Monday, when Wilson took the opportunity to thank the voter who put her fourth in the WNBA MVP ballot because it served as motivation.

On Friday night, Wilson and her teammates attended Usher’s concert, where the singer serenaded Wilson on stage.