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Hill: Tom Brady provides Aces words more valuable than diamond rings

Updated May 18, 2024 - 9:11 pm

The Aces received more than just some shiny and heavy rings last week as they opened their new season in front of record crowds at Michelob Ultra Arena.

Seriously, the championship rings are wildly impressive, highlighted by the 34 diamonds commemorating the record number of games they won in the regular season.

”Bling, bling, bling, bling, bling,” superstar forward A’ja Wilson said. “And a girl loves her diamonds, you know.”

But a pregame speech might have been even more valuable in terms of the Aces’ desire to add to their jewelry collection this season.

They got advice on dealing with the pressure of chasing sports history from someone who knows the subject as well as anyone else on the planet. Seven-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady, an Aces minority owner, spoke to the team in the locker room before Tuesday night’s opener against Phoenix.

It’s not uncommon for a sports star to address a team before a big game, but Brady offered more than a cursory speech. He gave concise advice about the task at hand for the two-time defending champs.

“He was saying the ring is going to always be there so you don’t have to go and try to defend it,” Wilson said. “Just go and do what you’ve been doing and execute that.”

The words resonated with Wilson in particular. She has been thinking quite a bit about the possibility of winning a third straight title this season, something no WNBA team has done since the Houston Comets won four straight from 1997 to 2000.

“I feel like that message made the night for me because I feel like we get so caught up in, ‘Oh my God, we’ve got to three-peat or we have to do this,’ ” Wilson said. “But that banner is going to be up there forever. My ring is going to be in the trophy case forever. Let me just focus on getting better and that’s when everything else flows.”

So far, so good. The Aces overcame a sluggish second quarter to pull away for an opening-night victory over Phoenix. They followed it up with a win over the Sparks on Saturday in front of another impressive crowd to start 2-0. They are a prohibitive favorite to win another title and had by far the highest regular-season win total on the betting board.

It’s a team that absolutely should raise another banner. The Aces can pretty much have the jewelers start designing an even more over-the-top ring as long as they don’t suffer any major injuries or get in their own way.

They’re the only team that can stop them from achieving their goals.

That’s where Brady’s words carry weight. Don’t defend the two titles. Just go win a third.

“It was kind of a cool moment,” said coach Becky Hammon, who arranged the speech. “I think a couple people’s jaws hit the floor because I didn’t tell them about it, and we had kind of hid him in the back.

“Obviously, we always think we have the best ownership group, starting with Mark (Davis). I thought it would be cool to bring in a sports figure who is not only invested in us and our team, but also knows a few things about winning.”

Yeah, that Brady guy knows a thing or two about winning and defending titles.

“We just let him have the floor a bit because he’s someone who has sat where they’ve sat in terms of chasing history and trying to be the greatest,” Hammon said. “Those things don’t just happen. You really have to be intentional about your work and about your approach and about winning the moment. We’re certainly happy he came and shared some of his knowledge and passion and love for women’s sports.”

The message certainly got through.

“It’s not too often you get to have Tom Brady talk to you before a game,” guard Jackie Young said. “It was super exciting. Definitely a fun moment. He’s one of the greats. He’s done this before. Being able to have him in our locker room is special.”

So were the rings.

Contact Adam Hill at ahill@reviewjournal.com. Follow @AdamHillLVRJ on X.

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