Headline Sports podcast with Michael Roberson: WNBA players need to travel by charter; Discussion gets serious after Sparks are stranded at DC Airport

Nneka Ogwumike of the Los Angeles Sparks said after being stranded overnight at the DC Airport that it was the first time in her 11 year career that she had to stay the night in an airport. Ogwumike who is president of the WNBA union is pushing for charter flights for WNBA teams (CNN file photo)

On Headline Sports podcast with Michael Roberson:

#1 Nneka Ogwumike of the Los Angeles Sparks and who just so happens to be the president of the WNBA players association got the experience of sleeping at the airport. The Sparks plan was stuck in Washington DC after the flight that was scheduled was canceled at 1 AM was rescheduled to 9AM. This is one example of what the WNBA players versus the NBA players what they have to go through.

#2 In retrospect what the WNBA players go through is almost like these players are like pioneers in the modern age of professional sports.

#3 What’s worse in spite of the desperate need for chartering teams the New York Liberty were fined $500,000 for taking chartered flights in the second half of last year.

#4 Also to add insult upon injury Liberty owner Joe Tsai actually found an easier way for WNBA teams to travel by charter and get compensated but the WNBA denied any idea like that existed.

#5 The Washington Mystic’s Natasha Cloud said that their still flying in comfort even with the mask mandate lifted on commercial flights while being surrounded by people not wearing masks.

Join Michael for Headline Sports Wednesdays at http://www.sportsradioservice.com

Aces Come Out On Top In Hard Fought Battle versus the Storm 88-81

The largest crowd in Seattle Storm history turns out to see the Storm’s Sue Bird’s retirement as the visiting Las Vegas Aces came out on top winning the contest at Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle on Sun Aug 7, 2022 (AP News photo)

Aces Come Out On Top In Hard Fought Battle versus the Storm 88-81

By Barbara Mason

Sunday afternoon the Las Vegas Aces (22-19) took on the Seattle Storm (20-12). The Aces have won five of their last seven games and sit in first place in the Western Conference. In their last outing the Aces lost a close one to the Mystics 82-80 and were looking to get back on the winning track. The Storm have been a bit up and down in their last seven games winning only three of them. It would prove to be a challenge for both teams.

The Aces were leaning heavily on Kelsey Plum and A’Ja Wilson. The Storm’s Breanna Stewart was a real challenge for the Las Vegas defense. This turned out to be a closely contested game between the first and second place teams in the Western Conference.

The game could have not have been closer as the first quarter came to an end. The Aces led 19-18 in the opening quarter in a hard fought game. At the half the Aces led by a single point 44-43. Both teams scored 25 points in the second quarter in this Western Conference battle.

Las Vegas took a slight lead as the third quarter came to an end 68-63. As the fourth quarter wore one the Aces extended their lead with under three minutes left in the game 81-74. Las Vegas finished off the Storm in the final minutes 89-81 for a well deserved win.

Both of these teams fought to the end in this game It was the brilliant shooting of A’Ja Wilson that made all the difference with 29 points and lots of help from teammates Chelsea Gray, Kelsey Plum and Jackie Young. Kiah Stokes finished the game with eight rebounds.

Next up for the Aces will be on Tuesday in a matchup with the Atlanta Dream in Vegas. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:00 PM PT

Aces rally late, fall short to Wings, 82-80

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Elaine Thompson

By Shawn McCullough

The Aces erased a 14-point deficit in the 4th quarter, but fell short to the Wings, 82-80, in Dallas.

“Hard fought game,” said head coach Becky Hammon. “I thought we were digging out of a hole most of the game, but we were there at the end.”

Down two points with 3.8 seconds left, guard Chelsea Gray inbounded the ball on a set play to spring center A’ja Wilson, but Wilson missed the layup to send the game to overtime.

“It happens,” said Gray. “It’s going to hurt, but we should have never been in that position in the first place.”

“A’ja was the first option, it was a catch and shoot play,” said Hammon.

Wings center Teaira McCowan led Dallas with 21 points and 16 rebounds.

“That’s a team [Dallas] that is playing for its playoff life and they are playing well right now,” said Hammon.

Gray led the Aces with 28 points, hitting five three-point shots, while forward Jackie Young added 19.

“My teammates were getting me the ball and I was just knocking them down,” said Gray.

With the loss, the Aces fell to 22-10 on the season.

The Aces will play the last game of a five-game road trip on Sunday against the Storm in Seattle.

Las Vegas Aces – http://aces.wnba.com

Game Notes:

The Aces shot 44.9% from the field and hit 10 shots from three-point range.
Las Vegas was out-rebounded by the Wings, 37-32.
The Aces got just two points off the bench.

Game Starters:

C – 22 A’ja Wilson
F – 5 Dearica Hamby
F – 0 Jackie Young
G – 10 Kelsey Plum
G – 12 Chelsea Gray

Aces Injury Report:

None

Aces fall to Mystics, 83-73

Photo Credit: WNBA

By Shawn McCullough

The Mystics went on a 13-0 run late in the fourth quarter to beat the Aces, 83-73, in Washington, D.C.

“That was very much a playoff type of atmosphere, very physical,” said head coach Becky Hammon. “We need to learn to play through that.”

A’ja Wilson led the Aces with 22 points and 12 rebounds, while guard Chelsea Gray added 20.

“They just stayed consistent defensively and they stayed within their schemes,” said Gray. “We were playing right into their hands.  We need to stay more focused mentally.”

Wilson recorded her 15th double-double of the season.

Guard Kelsey Plum scored 15 points, going 3 for 9 from three-point range.

“I did a terrible job of shot selection and we gave up a ton of offensive rebounds,” said Plum on the fourth quarter. “We didn’t get A’ja [Wilson] the ball when we needed to.”

The Mystics swept the season series, 3-0, over the Aces.

“They have a lot of defenders on the court,” said Hammon. “All of the hustle categories, we lost.”

With the loss, the Aces fell to 22-9 on the season.

The Aces will play the fourth game of a five-game road trip on Thursday against the Wings in Dallas.

Las Vegas is one of five WNBA teams to have clinched a playoff berth with five games remaining in the regular season.

Las Vegas Aces – http://aces.wnba.com

Game Notes:

The Aces shot just 40.6% from the field and went 9 for 26 from three-point range.
Las Vegas was out-rebounded by the Mystics, 38-30.
The Aces got just five points off the bench.

Game Starters:

C – 22 A’ja Wilson
F – 5 Dearica Hamby
F – 0 Jackie Young
G – 10 Kelsey Plum
G – 12 Chelsea Gray

Aces Injury Report:

None

Aces win fourth straight, beat Fever, 94-69

Photo by Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images

By Shawn McCullough

The Aces took back-to-back games against the Fever with a 94-69 win at Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.

Las Vegas jumped out quickly, taking a 21-13 first quarter lead and controlled the rest of the game.

The Aces were led by guard Kelsey Plum, who dropped 26 points and shot 9 for 12 from the field.

A’ja Wilson, Jackie Young and Theresa Plaisance each added 13 points.

The Aces held the Fever to just 31% from the field and forced 14 turnovers.

With the win, the Aces improved to 22-8 on the season.

The Aces will play the third game of a five-game road trip on Tuesday against the Mystics in Washington, D.C.

Las Vegas Aces – http://aces.wnba.com

Game Notes:

The Aces shot 50.7% from the field and went 6 for 17 from three-point range.
Las Vegas was out-rebounded by the Fever, 39-37.
Center Kiah Stokes came off the bench and pulled down 10 rebounds.

Game Starters:

C – 22 A’ja Wilson
F – 5 Dearica Hamby
F – 0 Jackie Young
G – 10 Kelsey Plum
G – 12 Chelsea Gray

Aces Injury Report:

None

Aces keep rolling, beat Fever, 93-72

Photo Credit: WNBA

By Shawn McCullough

The Aces pulled away in the second quarter and never looked back in a 93-72 win over the Indiana Fever at Hinkle Fieldhouse.

“Overall, I was pleased with the effort and our defense,” said head coach Becky Hammon.

The Aces defense held the Fever to 36.8% from the field and forced 13 turnovers.

A’ja Wilson and Kelsey Plum each scored 22 points to lead the Aces, while Jackie Young added 15.

“I take a lot of pride in the energy of this team,” said Wilson. “We just have to keep going and keep building.  We have to focus on us and focus on getting better.”

Young played high school basketball in Princeton, IN, 150 miles from Indianapolis.

“It’s fun to come home,” said Young. “I look forward to this game every year.”

With the win, the Aces improved to 21-8 on the season.

The Aces will play the second game of a five-game road trip on Sunday against the same Indiana Fever in Indianapolis.

Las Vegas Aces – http://aces.wnba.com

Game Notes:

The Aces shot 52.8% from the field and went 9 for 26 from three-point range.
Las Vegas out-rebounded the Fever, 41-28.
The Aces turned the ball over 19 times.

Game Starters:

C – 22 A’ja Wilson
F – 5 Dearica Hamby
F – 0 Jackie Young
G – 10 Kelsey Plum
G – 12 Chelsea Gray

Aces Injury Report:

None

That’s Amaury News and Commentary: An International Trade is made Public

From left to right, Viktor Bout “The Merchant of Death” for Brittney Griner WNBA star and US Marine Paul Whelan could be made in a prisoner exchange as talks between the US and Russian governments continue (file photos from CNN News)

An International Trade is made Public

That’s Amaury News and Commentary

By Amaury Pi-González

Brittney Griner is a WNBA star with the Phoenix Mercury. She is the only NCAA and professional basketball player to both score 2,000 points and block 500 shots. Without a doubt one of the WNBA’s biggest stars. Griner was in Russia playing for the basketball team UMMC Ekaterinburg during the WNBA off-season.

In February she was detained at Moscow Airport and has been in custody since then. Griner is accused of having vape cartridges containing cannabis oil in her luggage as she was trying to board a flight back to the US.

The US offered Russia a trade in order to free Brittney Griner. In this trade-deal the United States would send back to Russia convicted arms dealer Viktor Bout, aka “The Merchant of Death” for Griner and also American Paul Whelan, who is also in a Russian jail.

This is very unusual. In the great majority of these types of international prisoners trades, the US never releases the information of what they are proposing. The US releases the information after the trade is consummated.

Usually the US government informs the media after the Americans are secured and coming back to their country. The same is when the US announces to the world that they have captured or killed a terrorist, they do not make the announcement before.

In another interesting piece of information, the US government also announced that this proposal was done months ago and they still have not heard any positive response from the Russian government. Today this is a very tough and delicate predicament for Griner who has been there since Russia invaded Ukraine and is caught in the middle of a very tense situation.

Sometimes we here in the US are very naive when we travel abroad, and forget that what in our free country is just a misdemeanor in other countries is a felony and in this case an international crisis.

This is not about basketball but about the tough job of diplomacy between two countries that for many decades (back to the Cold War) have never liked each other.

Griner is facing a ten year sentence if she is convicted and not released because she was carrying cannabis oil inside her luggage.

If this would have happened before the Russian-Ukraine war, chances are we might not even have known about it, and Griner would have been home for months, but she is very unlucky that this happened when a war was just beginning.

The US has sent Ukraine billions of dollars in weapons of war, supporting the fight against Russia. The US, although not involved with soldiers, is fighting Russia. This is the typical proxy war.

All this above sounds like at least a made-for-TV movie or even a feature film in Hollywood. Unfortunately we are all witnessing this as it happens, in real time, in this real crazy world it is more like a Live Reality Show with international consequences.

My hopes are that Brittney Griner can gain her freedom soon and return to her family in the United States.

Join Amaury Pi Gonzalez for News and Commentary at http://www.sportsradioservice.com

Aces win Commissioner’s Cup, beat Sky, 93-83

Las Vegas Aces’ Kelsey Plum (10) scores past Chicago Sky’s Azura Stevens during the first half of the WNBA Commissioner’s Cup basketball game Tuesday, July 26, 2022, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

By Shawn McCullough

The Aces won the second-ever Commissioner’s Cup with a 93-83 win over the Sky in Chicago.

Guard Kelsey Plum led the Aces with 24 points, while going 6 for 9 from three-point range.

A’ja Wilson recorded a double-double scoring 17 points and pulling down 17 rebounds, while guard Chelsea Gray added 19.

All WNBA teams played Commissioner’s Cup games throughout the season which eventually pit the top two teams from each conference with the best records from those games.

The game does not count towards the WNBA standings, but each Aces player earned a $30,000 bonus, while each Sky player earned a $10,000 bonus.

The Seattle Storm beat the Connecticut Sun last year to win the first Commissioner’s Cup.

The Aces will next head out on a five-game road trip starting on Friday in Indiana against the Fever.

Las Vegas Aces – http://aces.wnba.com

Game Notes:

The Aces shot 50.0% from the field and went 9 for 21 from three-point range.
Las Vegas and the Sparks each had 40 rebounds.
The Aces led the entire game.

Game Starters:

C – 22 A’ja Wilson
F – 5 Dearica Hamby
F – 0 Jackie Young
G – 10 Kelsey Plum
G – 12 Chelsea Gray

Aces Injury Report:

None

Aces come up big in fourth quarter, beat Sparks, 84-66

Aces center A’ja Wilson (22) battles Sparks center Liz Cambage (1) in the first quarter of a WNBA game at Michelob Ultra Arena in Las Vegas, NV on Saturday, July 23, 2022. (Photo credit: Shawn McCullough/Sports Radio Service)

By Shawn McCullough

The Aces outscored Los Angeles 27-13 in the fourth quarter to beat the Sparks 84-66 at Michelob Ultra Arena.

Las Vegas led 57-53 at the end of the third quarter, but started to get shots to fall in the fourth quarter.

“Solid defensively, it wasn’t easy offensively,” said head coach Becky Hammon. “It wasn’t until that fourth quarter until we could break it open a little bit.”

“We were smarter defensively in the second half,” said guard Chelsea Gray. “In the second half, we stayed in front of people and didn’t let them get second chance points.”

The Aces were led by guard Kelsey Plum, who scored 29 points and went 4 for 8 from three-point range.

“She [Plum] is a key piece to our offense,” said A’ja Wilson. “She is reading the defense, getting to the basket and hitting threes.”

Wilson has now scored 20 points or more in seven straight games.  She scored 24 points and pulled down six rebounds.

“My teammates are setting me up,” said Wilson.

With the win, the Aces improved to 20-8 on the season and pulled to within one game of the WNBA leading Chicago Sky.

The Aces will next travel to Chicago on Tuesday to play the Sky for the Commissioners Cup.

Las Vegas Aces – http://aces.wnba.com

Game Notes:

The Aces shot just 41.4% from the field and went 10 for 27 from three-point range.
Las Vegas out-rebounded the Sparks, 38-32.
The Aces improved to 5-1 after the All-Star Break.

Game Starters:

C – 22 A’ja Wilson
F – 5 Dearica Hamby
F – 0 Jackie Young
G – 10 Kelsey Plum
G – 12 Chelsea Gray

Aces Injury Report:

None

Aces roll over Fever, 90-77

Photo Credit: Chase Stevens/Las Vegas Review-Journal

By Shawn McCullough

LAS VEGAS–The Aces bounced back from a tough loss on Tuesday to the Atlanta Dream with a 90-77 win over the Indiana Fever at Michelob Ultra Arena.

Las Vegas came out fast, building a 52-32 halftime lead and overcoming a rough fourth quarter, scoring just 14 points.

“They came back a little bit, but overall, a really good win from us,” said head coach Becky Hammon.

The Aces were led by A’ja Wilson’s 23 points, while Jackie Young added 16.

“I felt like my teammates set me up to where I can score the ball,” said Wilson.

Chelsea Gray had a double-double, scoring 14 points and dishing out 12 assists.

“That’s who she [Gray] is, that is Chelsea Gray, she is the head of our snake,” said Wilson. “When she is rockin’ and rollin’, we are rockin’ and rollin’.”

“When we are playing in transition, that’s when we are flowing,” said Gray.

The win snapped a 4-game losing streak for the Aces at home.

With the win, the Aces improved to 19-8 on the season and will play the final game of a three game homestand on Saturday against the Los Angeles Sparks.

Las Vegas Aces – http://aces.wnba.com

Game Notes:

The Aces shot 48.1% from the field and went 8 for 26 from three-point range.
Las Vegas out-rebounded the Fever, 43-33.
The Aces turned the ball over 16 times.

Game Starters:

C – 22 A’ja Wilson
F – 5 Dearica Hamby
F – 0 Jackie Young
G – 10 Kelsey Plum
G – 12 Chelsea Gray

Aces Injury Report:

None