Harris praises 2022 WNBA champion Las Vegas Aces for “grit and determination” on and off the court

WASHINGTON (AP) — Vice President Kamala Harris led a White House ceremony on Friday marking the year 2022. WNBA The Las Vegas Aces champions praised the team for their “persistence and determination” on the court and their “fierce” advocacy in support of teammate Brittney Griner while she was detained in Russia last year.

The Aces defeated the Connecticut Sun 78-71 in Game Four of the Finals Winning the championship cup3-1, along with what has become a traditional invitation to the White House.

“This franchise only moved to Las Vegas five years ago, and now they’re the first major professional sports team in Nevada history, in Nevada history, to win a championship, because this team embodies grit and grit,” Harris said. .

The Aces were elevated to their first championship title by Finals MVP Chelsea Graywho scored a game-high 20 points; MVP of the regular season Aja WilsonWho added 11 points, and a shot by Recona Williams, who came off the bench, scored 17 points.

Address made Becky Hammon First rookie coach in WNBA history to win the championship. She joined the Aces from the San Antonio Spurs, where she became the first full-time assistant coach in NBA history.

Harris also praised the Aces for being role models and leaders outside the arena by serving the Las Vegas community through a team foundation, supporting student health and mental wellness, and lobbying for equal pay for female athletes and all women.

The vice president commended the Aces for speaking out in support of Griner, the league’s star Phoenix Mercury center, who was Held in Russia In February 2022 after authorities at an airport near Moscow said they had found e-cigarette cartridges allegedly containing cannabis-derived oil in her luggage. Greiner faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison if convicted.

“Our nation is stronger because of your leadership,” said the vice president. “For example, when a US citizen was unjustly detained abroad, I organized and defended in a fierce and extraordinary manner. You people have organized, raised this issue, helped educate people about what’s at stake, all in support of Brittney Griner.”

He was a two-time Olympic gold medalist freedom From a Russian prison after 10 months, in December 2022, in exchange for the US release of Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout.

Harris said the ace players also lead the fight for broader rights and freedoms, including the right to vote and for members of the LGBTQ community and their families.

The bigger story, Harris said, is that the NBA is more than just a basketball league, it is a way to “inspire our youth and people across our nation to dream big.”

The WNBA title is a first for the Aces, and is one of the league’s original eight franchises. The team started as the Utah Starzz from 1997 to 2002, then moved to San Antonio as the Silver Stars (and later just the Stars) from 2003 to 2017. The team moved to Las Vegas prior to the 2018 season.

The Aces are also the first major professional sports team to win a championship in Las Vegas, which also includes the NFL’s Raiders and the NHL’s Golden Knights.

She said the team reminds everyone that “Las Vegas is so much more than 4 miles on the strip.”

Wilson and Gray also presented Harris with a jersey bearing the number 49.

The White House had announced several weeks ago that President Joe Biden and his wife, Jill, would host the aces. But the job went to Harris after Biden extended a family vacation in the Lake Tahoe region through Saturday.

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