WNBA Star A'ja Wilson Shares Honest Thoughts On Angel Reese - The SpunCHICAGO – Before the Sky hosted the Aces, Becky Hammon had a pointed question for Teresa Weatherspoon.

“Do you have your readers yet, by the way,” Hammon asked her former teammate.

“Don’t worry about it,” Weatherspoon said.

Two of the earliest players in the biggest women’s professional league in the world, cut from very similar cloth as former teammates with the New York Liberty, coached against each other on Thursday evening at Wintrust Arena.

Hammon, with her reader glasses and two WNBA championships under her belt, boasted the experience only a WNBA Champion can have in the Las Vegas Aces’ 95-83 win over the Sky.

The Sky, at 6-10 overall, have potential. They showed it on Thursday. But the Aces, led by a championship pedigree and multiple Olympians, shrugged the Sky’s best shot.

Marina Mabrey finally regained her shooting form with 21 points and made three 3-pointers. Chennedy Carter had another 20-point game. The Sky outrebounded the Aces, matched the Aces’ assist total and turned the ball over fewer times than the Aces.

The Aces rode their experience in multiple ways.

“We made a lot of mistakes and we know that we recognize the mistakes we made and where we have to get better,” Weatherspoon said. “We’re playing against a very good basketball team, championship DNA over there, not saying that we don’t have that type of DNA, but they won. They’ve been there. They know.”

Plenty about the Aces is similar to the Sky.

Las Vegas has a high-energy player in Jackie Young, much like the Sky have in Chennedy Carter. Vegas also has a sharpshooter capable of firing on all cylinders in Kelsey Plum; the Sky have one in Marina Mabrey.

The Aces have a post player that’s an elite rebounder and SEC alum in A’ja Wilson, much like the Sky’s Angel Reese.

Las Vegas has a head coach who starred in the early days of the WNBA in Hammon. The Sky’s Teresa Weatherspoon did the same.

The bottom line is: both the Sky and the Aces are similar.

The Aces are just better.

There’s nothing to be ashamed of in that regard. The Sky are young. This Aces core has been together since 2019, and was the result of developing players drafted over the course of time.

Wilson is the headliner. She’s an Olympian, two-time WNBA champion and the unquestioned best player on the planet.

Even Wilson, who finished Thursday’s game with 31 points, struggled with foul trouble early in her career. That’s something Reese, who had four fouls trying to guard Wilson and Kiah Stokes on Thursday, is working on now. Learning how to not foul comes down to preparation.

“That is what can separate you in understanding how not to foul,” Wilson said. “It’s going to happen, especially when you’re playing against really good players. The whole point is they’re going to try to lure you to do things that you’re not wanting to do.”

For Wilson, learning how to not foul was matter of preparing herself, but it was also a matter of understanding why fouls happen.

Every player is different, to be sure. Wilson learned by trial and error. She put herself in a position to foul and learn from those moments.

“I started to put myself in situations where I’ve studied where they’ve been and where they like to go and different things like that,” Wilson said. “It didn’t catch me off guard, because I feel like a lot of things about fouling is sometimes it, whatever it is, catches you off guard. That’s why you foul. That’s why you’re like, ‘oh my God, I didn’t know that was gonna happen.’ It causes you to do something illegal in our game.”

It also helps when you become one of the most dominant players the league has ever seen.

Reese recorded her ninth-straight double-double on Thursday. She’s three double-doubles away from setting the WNBA record set by Candace Parker. That’s overshadowed by a historical stat.

With her 31 points on Thursday, Wilson has now gone 20-straight games with at least 20 points. That’s the most consecutive 20-point games in WNBA history.

The Sky, nor any past team in WNBA history, has that.

But, Thursday was a chance for the Sky to see what they could be. It was clear their 10th loss of the season was a sign there are more growing pains to correct and more lessons to learn before this team can be considered a contender.

Performing like they did against the Aces would have resulted in a win plenty of other nights. Not against a Las Vegas team that revels in the chance to continue to the game, while also having the know how in winning a championship.

“I don’t take playing this game, in this league, for granted at all,” Wilson said after the game. “You never get a chance to take a deep breath and that’s how a lot of these games are played here in the league.”

A big reason why Wilson and Reese have these chances to grow the game, something Reese has spoken about at length as a rookie, is thanks to their head coaches.

Weatherspoon and Hammon both said there was no moment back in 1999, when the two played for the Liberty together, that they’d imagine themselves coaching against each other in a league that’s grown by leaps and bounds on the heels of years of growth and young stars.

Hammon reflected on the opportunities that have emerged thanks to the women who fought for them.

“Whether that’s at the beginning of the league or in year 25, 27, man, be thankful for the opportunities given,” Hammon said. “Not that we’re going to sit at the table and play nights all the time, but like, be thankful for these opportunities because there’s a lot of women that fought really, really hard to have these moments, and it’s just awesome to see where the game has gone.”

The Sky can have their moment, too. The Aces left a blueprint.

It starts with having players and skill on the roster. It’s up to a coach to coax that into a championship-caliber team.

“I’m hard on me,” Weatherspoon said. “I’ll look at me before I look at the players. I always have and I always will. How can I get better? How can I be better? I’ll always do that.”