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Inside the WNBA Faceoff Between the Aces & Fever

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“You either die a hero, or live long enough to see yourself become the villain.” This quote resonates throughout the Aces’ arena as the crowd prepares for their entrance. The back-to-back champions embrace the role of villains, a common theme for Vegas’ sports teams.   The Vegas Golden Knights proudly call themselves the ‘Evil Empire’ of the NHL. The recently relocated Raiders have long been one of the NFL’s notorious teams, boasting a new stadium reminiscent of the Death Star. The Aces have purposely adopted villainous imagery, abandoning red this year for a sleek palette of black and shiny silver.

Out of all the sports events I have attended, nothing compares to an Aces game. Las Vegas wholeheartedly supports them. While walking around town the week before, I saw a significant number of people, from toddlers to grown men, wearing Aces merchandise. One of our cab drivers even commented on the game, saying that A’ja Wilson is one of the greatest players he’s ever seen. Vegas treasures its WNBA team, which is currently under investigation for the recent $100,000 sponsorships made by the LVCVA for the Aces roster. You can read more about that here.

 Courtesy of AnnaBelle Boone 

The support for the Aces starkly contrasts with that for the Fever. The Aces’ owner, Mark Davis, is the son of the often controversial yet beloved former Raiders owner, GM, and coach Al Davis. The Davis family have a deep passion for sports, having been season ticket holders and frequent game attendees before even considering buying the team. Mark Davis acquired the team from their original owners, MGM Resorts International, after urging them to pay their players more. He held a meeting with A’ja Wilson, who agreed he should buy the team, and the rest is history. Before the ink had even dried on the deal, Davis had broken ground on an impressive training facility. Spanning about 50,000 square feet and dedicated entirely to the Aces, it’s the first of its kind for the WNBA. 

The Indiana Fever, on the other hand, have not experienced the same visible infusion of cash. Their owner, Herb Simon, a billionaire mall developer, also owns the Indiana Pacers. Compared to the shiny new Aces facilities, the Fever’s facilities seem a bit abysmal.The Fever have been greatly helped by back-to-back number one draft picks. In 2023, they chose Aaliyah Boston from South Carolina, and in 2024, they picked Caitlyn Clark amid the surge in interest in both Clark and women’s basketball as a whole. The TV ratings for the WNBA 2024 draft exceeded those of actual games played over the prior 25 seasons, reaching 2.5 million viewers. Clark’s Fever jersey sold out in most sizes within an hour after her pick. She also signed groundbreaking deals with Nike and Wilson.

The stage was set: back-to-back champions versus back-to-back number one draft picks.The Aces were coming off a loss to the Phoenix Mercury, while the Fever were coming off of a win against the LA Sparks. Caitlyn Clark faced off against former teammate and current friend, Kate “Money” Martin. The game began with fire and lights, with fun call-and-responses from the Aces fans. Surprisingly, the crowd was evenly split between Aces and Fever fans. 

There was no fairy-tale ending for the Fever. Indiana, despite briefly holding the lead, fell to the Aces with a final score of 99-80. A’ja Wilson, one of the greats of this generation, delivered a masterclass performance. She led the Aces with 29 points, 15 rebounds, and 2 assists on Saturday night. Jackie Young added 22 points and 6 assists, while Kelsey Plum contributed 20 points and 4 assists. For the Fever, Clark recorded 8 points, 7 assists, and 5 rebounds, though she also had 6 turnovers. Aaliyah Boston had 12 points and 6 rebounds. 

The Ace’s victory was yet another testament to their resilience and dominance as they pursue a three-peat. Even after the final buzzer, there was a sense of admiration for both teams. A’ja Wilson’s performance was spectacular, adding another masterclass to her amazing basketball resume. This is just another entry into her already impressive resume to basketball history. Despite the intense pressure, Caitlyn Clark keeps showing those flashes of greatness as she becomes more comfortable in her WNBA era. The Fever will continue to evolve with her and Aaliyah Boston, helping lay the foundation for future greatness.

Courtesy of AnnaBelle Boone 

The game was amazing to see live, especially after spending countless late nights watching the Aces dominate from the East Coast. I wore Girls Club merch, obviously, which you can purchase at our merch store. The arena was electric, and the fans were even more amazing. Both Fever and Aces fans found common ground through their love of women’s sports. It was magical to witness in person, particularly seeing so many young girls decked out in 22 jerseys, whether for Clark or Wilson. It was clear that 22 was the favorite of the night.

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