A’ja Wilson further cements status as face of WNBA with 53-point performance

It may seem as if A’ja Wilson has been in the WNBA for longer than six years. But the South Carolina legend has played at the professional level for that length of time – all with the Las Vegas Aces. 

One can run through the accomplishments (MVPs, gold medals, championship) she has already attained in her basketball career – high school, collegiate, professionally and internationally – and it would rival those who have already had their names forever immortalized in one of the two Basketball Halls of Fame. 

Wilson did that again on Tuesday as her Aces traveled to Georgia to take on an Atlanta Dream bunch that is on the verge of clinching a playoff berth as Vegas themselves has already done. 

The Dream continued to show the growth indicative of a team poised and ready to take that next step. But Wilson would turn in a historic performance. 

Wilson tallied 53 points against the Dream to lift the Aces to a 112-100 victory over Atlanta. The victory raised Las Vegas’ already stellar record to 29-4 with only seven games left to play in the regular season. 

That number looks awfully familiar – 53 points. The mark tied a single-game record for most points tallied that was set by Wilson’s former Aces teammate Liz Cambage. She went for 53 points when Cambage wore a Dallas Wings uniform in a 2018 home victory over the New York Liberty. 

It was also the third occasion where one player scored at least 50 points. Who was the other to do so in addition to Wilson and Cambage? It was Riquna Williams who scored 51 in a single game back in 2013. 

But the significance of Wilson’s 53-point performance may outdo that of either Cambage or Williams. Wilson did so during a period where the Aces have established themselves as the team to beat in today’s WNBA – and during one where Wilson is effectively the face of today’s W.

Last month when we pulled up to Las Vegas for WNBA All-Star weekend, we asked Wilson about her laundry list of accomplishments up to that point – and if it made her feel like a W elder stateswoman even as she has entered the prime of her career. 

I still got some time, I still got some winning to do before I could even say that. I still feel like I’m a young gun in this league. But, definitely just there. Everyone’s trying to pass the torch…you just feel it. You feel the shift in women’s sports and I’m so glad that I am on the upward curve of it because a lot of people laid the foundation down for us to be able to play this game that we love. So, I don’t think I’m up there just yet. I don’t have enough on my resume to say that, but…I’m blessed to be able just to still be in this league. This league is hard to stay in.” 

A’ja Wilson – Las Vegas Aces, Team Wilson captain (All-Star media availability) 

That was certainly more of a player speak answer than the one she gave regarding her place in history when she was a guest on Paul George’s Podcast P. 

Advantage Podcast P. 

Wilson is obviously aware of her place, not only in WNBA history, but in basketball history in general which is why one would consider her as capable of being able to put together an outing like she had against the Dream. 

A few Twitter trolls did have the audacity to try to douse the hot flame with cold water by claiming that Wilson’s 53 points was a matter of “stat padding.” 

If Wilson’s 53 points was a matter of stat-padding, then why was the Aces’ victory only 12 points? A 12 point win is not a blowout by any stretch of the imagination, meaning Las Vegas needed every single one of her 53 or maybe Atlanta would have pulled off an upset ala what the Los Angeles Sparks managed to do this past weekend on the Aces’ home floor. 

As far as whose record was tied thanks to Wilson’s heroics, Cambage’s 53 she dropped on the Liberty was not an issue of stat-padding either. When she scored 53, it came in a 104-87 victory against a Liberty team that was rebuilding – both in terms of its team and its franchise structure. 

Interestingly enough, while everyone in the women’s basketball space was fixated on Cambage’s comments regarding the Australia-Nigeria pre-Tokyo Olympics scrimmage in Las Vegas from 2021, she was asked an interesting question regarding the record by Bleacher Report’s Taylor Rooks. 

Rooks asked Cambage who she saw potentially breaking said record. She predicted it would either be Sabrina Ionescu, Breanna Stewart or Kelsey Plum. 

Wilson dropping 53 on the playoff-bound Dream is the best way possible to tell Cambage that she can hold Wilson’s Casamigos. 

Interestingly enough, the New York Times recently posed a question on the idea of 40-point games being on the rise in the W. It presents the question on if the increase in 40-point performances by Wilson and others is a sign of the WNBA going in the direction of its brother league, the NBA, in terms of offense.

Anyone who watches the NBA nowadays understands that every time tallies 100 points a game nowadays. One could be a defending champion such as the Denver Nuggets or a team like the Orlando Magic – cellar dwellers with anti-Black used car salesmen for ownership.

Another layer of significance with Wilson’s performance is that it was a statement made to the rest of the WNBA with only a few games left to play prior to the start of the playoffs. 

One can probably guess that many a pundit may have slightly soured on Las Vegas given the two losses they suffered at the hands of New York – including the L they took from the Liberty in the Aces’ own building in the Commissioner’s Cup final. Not to mention the loss Las Vegas was dealt by the Sparks which snapped a streak of 21 consecutive home victories. 

That 53-point performance was history making, but it was a loud and emphatic statement by the Mayor of South Carolina (and face of women’s basketball) that the Aces are ready to defend their crown as queens of the WNBA. 

One more thing…Nike…about that signature shoe…