MGM Brands Its WNBA Team the “Aces”
As we end 2017, I present you with a minor gambling story that is tangentially related to poker, but I like it, so I’m writing about it. Largely ignored by the sports and gaming worlds, the new Las Vegas WNBA team recently announced what their name will be, and it should bring a smile to poker players’ faces: the Aces.
I should correct myself already: the Las Vegas Aces is not a “new” team. Rather, it is new to the city. This fall, MGM Resorts International purchased the San Antonio Stars and moved the team to Las Vegas. The Stars were one of the eight founding teams of the league in 1997, then known as the Utah Starzz. The NBA owned all the teams at the time, but when the NBA sold them prior to the 2003 season, the Starzz were moved to San Antonio and renamed the Silver Stars.
For me, the funny and pleasantly surprising part of this new name is that on a different website, I predicted that MGM would come up with some stupid, non-Las Vegas-related name for the team, like the “Energy” or “Grit” or some crap like that. Throughout the thin history of Las Vegas professional sports, there has rarely been a solid, Vegas or gambling-related team name. I really thought an obvious, great name like “Aces” was totally out of the question.
Detroit Pistons NBA legend Bill Laimbeer was named the team’s President of Basketball Operations and Head Coach after this past season. In a press release, he weighed in on the new name:
Selecting a new name is an important and symbolic step. Las Vegas has enthusiastically embraced us, and we’re incredibly excited for this opportunity. We have a strong roster driven to succeed, which makes this name an ideal choice. “Las Vegas Aces” is a nod to the excellence, confidence and competitive spirit of our new hometown.
I mean, really, let’s be honest, “Las Vegas Aces” is a nod to gambling. But at the same time, it also means “very good” or “a person who excels at a particular sport or other activity,” so in that sense, the quality of the name is compounded!
“We are ecstatic to officially welcome the Las Vegas Aces to the WNBA family,” said WNBA President Lisa Borders. “The Aces are already embracing the opportunity to develop a deep connection with the local community, and we can’t wait to watch them bring the WNBA’s brand of world-class basketball to their new home in 2018.”
Name aside, that MGM Resorts International acquired the Stars/Aces team was of significance because it was another instance of professional sports leagues in the U.S. relaxing their fears about gambling and sports. For as long as the sun has risen in the east, sports leagues have claimed they were against sports betting – and even a team existing in Las Vegas – because of the risk of harming the “integrity of the game.”
The WNBA has been more progressive than most, though, as the Mohegan Sun already owns the Connecticut Sun.
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