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LAS VEGAS — Over the course of her highly decorated career, Alysha Clark has been surrounded by greatness: former teammates Breanna Stewart and Elena Delle Donne have, between them, three WNBA titles and three WNBA MVP Awards. Yet the Las Vegas Aces guard can’t help but be in awe of what she’s witnessed this season playing alongside A’Ja Wilson.

“Her mental toughness, her skill set, she’s as dominant as any player in this league,” said Clark, herself a two-time WNBA champion who was recently named the league’s Sixth Woman of the Year. “She’s scratching the surface of her potential. She has the desire to be the best player in the league.”

Clark’s accurate in her view that Wilson has the desire. There are many who believe that Wilson, a WNBA champion with the Aces (2022) and a two-time league MVP (2020, 2022) already is the league’s best player.

Wilson’s MVP credentials:

  • She’s the top scorer (22.8 points per game) for the league’s best offensive team.
  • She’s the top shot-blocker (2.2 bpg) and the anchor of the league’s best defense, earning her the AP Defensive Player of the Year award and for the second year in a row the Kia WNBA Defensive Player of the Year award.
  • She tied the highest scoring game in WNBA history (53), established a new WNBA record for 20-point games in a season (27) while becoming the fastest player in WNBA history to reach 3,500 points,1,500 rebounds and 300 blocks.

Since 2017, the WNBA MVP has come from the league’s top regular-season team. If that holds true, Wilson will become just the second player in league history to win the award back-to-back (Cynthia Cooper won it in 1997 and 1998 with the Houston Comets).

Yet, Wilson is not a shoo-in, since Stewart is also having a career year (23 points per game and 9.3 rebounds per game) in helping the New York Liberty to the WNBA’s second-best record. On Sept. 12, Stewart was named the AP WNBA Player of the Year, edging Wilson by a single vote.

The MVP ballots are in, and the voters will have their say on the league’s best player on Tuesday.

The Aces and Liberty are on collision course to meet in the WNBA finals, and Wilson and Stewart might have their say when the championship series begins on Oct. 8. On Sunday, Wilson had 34 points in the Aces’ 97-83 win against the Dallas Wings in Game 1 of the WNBA semifinals. Her 15 field goals made tied a league record for a playoff game.

“We’re defending a championship that was really, really hard to get, and now it’s harder to sustain and defend,” Wilson said. “We go out every day with the mindset that we got something to protect.

“The goal is to bring another championship to Las Vegas, and I’m going to keep bringing my best to help us do that.”

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The Las Vegas Aces celebrate after Game 4 of the 2022 WNBA Finals on Sept. 18, 2022, at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut.

Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images

About that first championship, the night a year ago when the Aces defeated the Connecticut Sun to bring Las Vegas its first pro sports team title.

There was a moment during the news conference when Chelsea Gray, a two-time WNBA champion who was named the MVP of last year’s finals, was asked about Wilson’s impact.

“People in this league … at the end of their career we start having the conversation ‘they’re the best, they’re one of the best,’ ” Gray said. “[Wilson’s] at a young age, and we can have that conversation now.”

That conversation would start with a dominant high school career at a small private school in South Carolina, followed by a dominant college career when she was the national player of the year before being drafted professionally with the No. 1 pick.

A career journey identical to Zion Williamson.

But the paths couldn’t be more different.

Williamson — when he went to Duke and was selected first overall by the New Orleans Pelicans in the 2019 NBA draft — knew he was that dude.

Wilson — when she went to South Carolina before being selected first overall by the Aces in the 2018 WNBA draft — is just now realizing just how gifted she is.

“Last year, when we won a championship that’s when I honestly felt like I was trying to make a name for myself,” Wilson said. “Winning gave me a glimpse of ‘OK, I’m good, I’ve got my name up in this place.’ ”

Why did the process take so long?

“Growing up, I always thought of myself as the sponge and never the rock,” Wilson said. “I always wanted to learn, I always want to get better. So, I never really knew I had it in me to feel like, ‘Hey, I’m here.’ ”

And that’s the reason Dawn Staley, her Hall of Fame coach at South Carolina, stopped quite a few of her early practices at South Carolina because she didn’t think Wilson understood just how good she could be.

“ ‘I should know exactly who you are because you’re a dominant presence,’ ” Wilson recalls Staley telling her. “Don’t be average and don’t blend in. And if you want to blend in, take your a– off the court and go sit on the sideline.”

Wilson’s reaction?

“I’d get mad, I would be pissed,” she said. “But I began to understand exactly what she was doing, and I knew she was just trying to get the best out of me.”

“Growing up, I always thought of myself as the sponge and never the rock. I always wanted to learn, I always want to get better. So, I never really knew had it in me to feel like, ‘Hey, I’m here.’ ”

— A’ja Wilson

While Aces coach Becky Hammon knew she was getting a gem when she accepted the job to coach the team before the 2022 season, she wasn’t completely aware of Wilson’s skill set until she watched her get shots up in the gym.

“When I worked her out in San Antonio when I was still with the Spurs I was like, ‘you can really shoot it, why don’t you shoot the 3?’ ” Hammon said. “Her shooting ability is off the charts, and we’ll work on it this offseason because that makes her more difficult to guard.”

As it is, Wilson is nearly impossible to guard with an improved midrange game, her ability to run the court and her skill in the post where she’s maybe the best in the league at sealing defenders.

“Her mobility as a big is impressive and she’s springy, her second jump might be as quick as her first jump,” Hammon said. “She’s got an old-school game and we’re now letting her dribble more, handle more and putting her in more open spaces. She’s evolving.”

The evolution of Wilson and who she might become is even more scary with her recent realization of her ability and place in the game.

“Last year was probably like my first wake-up call to where I’m like, now it’s time for me to start establishing myself,” Wilson said. “Now I feel like I need to etch myself in these history books.”

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Las Vegas Aces center A’ja Wilson arrives at the White House to celebrate the 2022 WNBA championship on Aug. 25 in Washington.

KeShawn Ennis / NBAE via Getty Images

An instrumental rendition of rapper Lupe Fiasco’s “Superstar” filled the East Room of the White House as the Aces team strode to the podium.

For Wilson, her appearance in the White House was long overdue.

Due to WNBA training camp, Wilson missed the White House trip last year when the 2020 Tokyo and 2022 Beijing Olympians were invited. Neither Wilson nor the rest of the South Carolina women’s basketball team made the trip to Washington to celebrate the team’s 2017 NCAA national title (they weren’t invited — politics).

So, when Wilson did show up with the Aces in August, she made the absolute most of the trip, wearing a stunning blue dress and turning the tour of the White House into a fashion shoot.

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A post shared by A'ja Wilson (@aja22wilson)

“It was crazy because you see the White House in the movies and on TV, and then you’re there and realize how much history has gone on in that place,” Wilson said. “It was incredible to see.”

Equally incredible for Wilson was the reaction of her parents as they walked through the White House before the main ceremony.

“My mom was like, ‘Where’s Michelle? I need to see her portrait,’ ” Wilson said. “And my dad’s like, ‘No, where’s Barack?’ For them to have that experience with me, to see us celebrated in the house of history, was incredible.”

As incredible a trip it was to the White House it appeared, on the surface, that Wilson had to provide a nudge in response to a post from President Joe Biden congratulating the Las Vegas Golden Knights following their Stanley Cup title.

The Aces, after Wilson’s post, stated the team was extended an invitation to the White House, which happened during the team’s late August trip to Washington to play the Mystics. Still, Biden congratulating the Golden Knights following the team’s title this year and failing to acknowledge the Aces last year when they became the first major pro sports team from Las Vegas to win a title is a demonstration that the acknowledgement of women’s sports has a long way to go.

“This is just who I am, and I just want to wake people up,” Wilson said. “My college didn’t get an invitation, and I wasn’t about to let that happen again. I had to speak up. It’s important for our game.”

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Mayala Lett-Jackson, 14, poses with her signed A’ja Wilson jersey.

Jerry Bembry for Andscape

“… knowing that I’m playing for that next young Black girl that wants to play … It keeps me going every single day.” — A’ja Wilson

Wilson’s stand for women in sports is equally important for the women and young girls who follow the game like Mayala Lett-Jackson, 14, of Las Vegas who could barely control her emotions after last year’s MVP signed her jersey following a late regular-season game at Michelob ULTRA Arena.

“I love all the players, especially A’ja and Chelsea Gray,” Mayala said. “I’ve had this jersey for a year, and I was shocked she stopped by to sign it. Her game is amazing.”

When Wilson, seated in the Aces’ spectacular new $40 million practice facility, was told about Mayala’s reaction, she smiled and thought back to an encounter she had with teammate Candace Parker.

“My heart stopped when I met Candice in Tennessee during an official [recruiting] visit, so I know what those encounters mean,” Wilson said. “I love that girls are excited when I sign something, love that they get excited to get an A’ja Wilson jersey for their birthday or Christmas, love when they dress up as A’ja Wilson for Halloween. For the fans, I want to have a positive impact.”

Wilson wants to particularly have a positive impact on young Black girls, which she pointed out during a Sept. 17 postgame news conference after the Aces swept their first-round series against Chicago.

“I’m blessed. This is something that I dreamed of doing … playing alongside just an incredible locker room,” Wilson said. “That’s how I take those moments in, knowing that I’m playing for that next young Black girl that wants to play … It keeps me going every single day.”

When the Aces eliminated the Chicago Sky on Sept. 17, Clark was asked again about the greatness of her teammate after watching Wilson drop a franchise playoff record 38 points along with 16 rebounds.

“I’m sitting back sometimes, I’m standing out in the corner like, oh, that’s nasty,” Clark said. “I’m a fan, too. I’m happy she’s my teammate because I know what a load she is from an opponent’s standpoint.”

With Wilson, Clark said, the greatness goes well beyond her physical talent.

“The way that she approaches the game, her humility, her competitiveness, her fire, and just the way she’s selfless,” Clark said. “That’s something that I think is overlooked a lot of times with superstars, and she’s not going to say she’s one, but she is.

“She’s extremely selfless, and she’s a phenomenal leader, and when you have somebody that’s leading your team in that way, it makes everybody else just want to play that much more alongside her.”

That Wilson can be better — that the Aces can be better — is scary for the rest of the league.

“We’re just scratching the surface of what we need to do to continue to make a name for ourselves in this league,” Wilson said. “We want people to be talking about the Aces for a while, just like they talked about the Comets. We want to talk about legacy. We want a dynasty. We want to be in those history books.”


By: Jerry Bembry
Title: The evolution of Las Vegas Aces center A’ja Wilson
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Published Date: Mon, 25 Sep 2023 12:25:49 +0000

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Cassie and Husband Alex Fine’s Relationship Timeline

Cassie and Husband Alex Fine s Relationship Timeline

Cassie and Alex Fine tied the knot less than one year after going public with their romance — and they’ve been going strong ever since.

“I felt really relaxed during the ceremony,” the singer, whose real name is Cassandra Ventura, told Vogue of the nuptials in October 2019. “As soon as I saw Alex, any nerves that I did have went away and I just couldn’t stop smiling.”

Cassie and Fine welcomed their first baby, daughter Frankie, two months after their wedding. Their second daughter, Sunny, was born in March 2021.

Keep scrolling for a look at Cassie and Fine’s love story over the years:

December 2018

Cassie and Husband Alex Fine s Relationship Timeline
Courtesy of Alex Fine/Instagram
Cassie debuted her romance with Fine by sharing an Instagram photo of them kissing. The upload came two months after Cassie split from ex-boyfriend Sean “Diddy” Combs after dating on and off for 11 years. Cassie went on to sue Diddy in November 2023, claiming that the rapper began a pattern of control and abuse after they met in 2005.

“After years in silence and darkness, I am finally ready to tell my story, and to speak up on behalf of myself and for the benefit of other women who face violence and abuse in their relationships,” she said in a statement.

Diddy vehemently denied the allegations.

“Mr. Combs vehemently denies these offensive and outrageous allegations. For the past six months, Mr. Combs has been subjected to Ms. Ventura’s persistent demand of $30 million, under the threat of writing a damaging book about their relationship, which was unequivocally rejected as blatant blackmail,” his lawyer Ben Brafman said in a statement. “Despite withdrawing her initial threat, Ms. Ventura has now resorted to filing a lawsuit riddled with baseless and outrageous lies, aiming to tarnish Mr. Combs’s reputation and seeking a payday.”

Us Weekly confirmed one day after the lawsuit was filed that Cassie and Diddy reached a settlement.

June 2019

Cassie and Husband Alex Fine s Relationship Timeline
Courtesy of Alex Fine/Instagram

Cassie announced that she and Fine were expecting their first baby.

“Can’t wait to meet our baby girl 💗 Love You Always & Forever,” she captioned Instagram snaps of herself and Fine in a car.

August 2019

Fine asked the “Me & U singer” to marry him with a cowboy-themed proposal. The professional bull rider wore a cowboy hat and rode a horse over to Cassie before popping the question.

“When he got down on one knee, everything just stopped,” Cassie told Vogue in October 2019 of the romantic moment. “I felt like I lost my sense of hearing. I saw just his mouth moving and he said, ‘I Want to spend the rest of my life with you.’ I will never forget how special Alex made me feel that night.”

September 2019

Two months after getting engaged, Cassie and Fine had a backyard wedding in Malibu.

“We wanted a simple venue with a beautiful view that felt warm and romantic,” Cassie told Vogue of the big day. “We wanted the aesthetic to reflect how comfortable and content we feel with each other.”

December 2019

The pair became parents with the birth of their daughter Frankie.

“I can’t explain the amount of unconditional love and adoration that I have for my family,” Casie captioned a September 2020 carousel of Instagram photos of herself and Fine with their newborn. “I wake up everyday so thankful and happy to have my own. I will never take it for granted and will always feel honored to be able to experience this kind of love. Slowing down and simply enjoying each other has been a motto for us. We don’t need a lot, everything we need is right here.

December 2020

Cassie announced that she and Fine had another baby on the way.

“Coming soon …,” she captioned an Instagram video of then-12-month-old Frankie rubbing her baby bump as Fine held her hand.

March 2021

Cassie and Husband Alex Fine s Relationship Timeline
Courtesy of Casandra Fine/Instagram

The couple expanded their family with the birth of daughter Sunny.

“Welcome to the world baby girl! We love you so much Sunny Cinco Fine!” Cassie captioned a series of Instagram photos of her newborn.

March 2023

Cassie and Husband Alex Fine s Relationship Timeline
Courtesy of Alex Fine/Instagram

Fine counted his blessings while commemorating his 30th birthday via Instagram, including “a wife I love [who] loves me” and “two babies that make my heart grow bigger every time they smile.”

August 2023

Cassie and Husband Alex Fine s Relationship Timeline
Courtesy of Casandra Fine/Instagram
Cassie penned a sweet tribute to Fine in honor of the twosome’s wedding anniversary.
“A day late, but had to make sure I showed ALL MY LOVE to this man! My husband! Happy 4th Anniversary to my Best Friend. There’s no one like you in this world,” the musician captioned a photo of the duo smiling.

She continued: “You have the biggest heart and the funniest sense of humor, your curiosity about life still surprises me and warms my heart everyday. I grow more and more and more and more in love with you as time goes on and I wouldn’t want it any other way. Most important of all, you’re only person that can actually make me laugh until I pee my pants – that says a lot. Thank you for loving me the way you do. I LOVE YOU SOOO MUCH!! ♥♥♥♥.”

May 2024

After CNN shared resurfaced footage of Diddy allegedly assaulting Cassie back in 2016, Fine penned an open letter to his wife and family.

“I want my kids and every kid to live in a world that’s safe for women and girls, protects them and treats them as equals,” Fine wrote via Instagram. “To the women and children, you’re not alone, and you are heard. if you need help call the domestic violence hotline at (800) 799-7233.”

He continued, “Men who hit women aren’t men. Men who enable it and protect these people aren’t men. As men, violence against women shouldn’t be inevitable, check your brothers, your friends and your family. Our daughters, sisters, mothers and wives should feel protected and loved. Hold the women in your life with the upmost regard. Men who hurt women hate women.”


By: Sara Donnellan
Title: Cassie and Husband Alex Fine’s Relationship Timeline
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Published Date: Sat, 18 May 2024 17:41:30 +0000

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Tiger Woods missed the PGA Championship cut but his legacy played on

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Tiger Woods has always played to win. Since turning professional in 1996, he has won 82 tournaments, including 15 major championships. Perhaps, more astonishing than the victories and majors is the 142-event made cut streak that lasted over a seven-year period from 1998 to 2005, when he was the most dominant golfer that the game has ever seen.

Woods never said he was the greatest. He didn’t need to. “There is no sense in going to a tournament if you don’t believe that you can win it,” he once said.

Yet, coming into the PGA Championship at the Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Kentucky, Woods was circumspect about his chances of hoisting his fifth Wanamaker Trophy. Asked about the state of his game, he admitted that he was rusty and that the barrage of injuries had taken a toll on his body. “I can still hit shots,” he said on Tuesday. “It’s getting around is more of the difficulty that I face day-to-day and the recovery of pushing myself either in practice or in competition days.”

When the tournament began on Thursday, Woods, who was making his 23rd appearance in the PGA Championship, performed like the part-time player that he has become over the last several years. On his way to a 1-over par 72, the 48-year-old World Golf Hall of Famer hit a smattering of good shots but hardly kept pace in a first round that saw a record 64 players shoot under par scores.

“It’s just the competitive flow,” he said after the round. “It took me probably three holes to get back into competitive flow again and get a feel for hitting the ball out there in competition, adrenaline, temperatures, green speeds. These are all things that normally I adjust to very quickly, and it just took me a few holes to get into it.”

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Tiger Woods holds the Wanamaker Trophy after winning the 82nd PGA Championship on Aug. 20, 2000, at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Kentucky.

David Cannon/Getty Images

By Friday afternoon, the tournament had been temporarily upstaged by the early morning arrest of Scottie Scheffler, the game’s No. 1 ranked player, for allegedly disobeying a police officer’s order at the entrance to the Valhalla Golf Club. Looking invincible like the Woods of old, Scheffler settled down after the shock of being handcuffed and hauled off to jail to shoot a 5-under par 66 to go into the weekend with a chance to win his second major of the year after taking the Masters last month. As Scheffler went off to answer questions about spending time in a Louisville holding cell, Woods was starting his round and would need a good one to avoid missing just his 15th cut in 93 major appearances.

Starting his second round two shots off the projected cut of 1 under par, Woods went seven over par in his first four holes to guarantee that he would miss the cut. It’s hard to imagine a worst scenario for a player already battling competitive rust and old age in a game dominated by much younger players. Here he was looking ahead to the next tournament, the next opportunity to show that he could still play at next month’s U.S. Open at Pinehurst, but stuck for five hours on a golf course where he had solidified his legend 24 years earlier in an epic duel with Bob May at the 2000 PGA Championship.

Back then when Woods was in the morning of his career, he turned the Jack Nicklaus-designed Valhalla Golf Club into a theater with a two-act play and May as his benevolent antagonist. In the final round in 2000, they matched each other shot for shot, creating a drama unprecedented in televised golf history. Then in the three-hole aggregate playoff, Woods survived to win by one stroke. That victory at Valhalla was the third leg of the Tiger Slam, which climaxed when Woods won the 2001 Masters.

But these are different times in the game of golf. In 2000, the PGA Tour was in the beginning of a period of monumental growth as an outsized talent with a mixed racial heritage was transforming what had long been identified as a country club sport played mostly by white people. To many, Woods was the game and the PGA Tour was his home. Now, no longer the masterful player capable of holding your attention for hours on Sunday with his feats of excellence, Woods has become a senior statesman in the game and a defender of what he has helped to build in the sport over the last 30 years.

As the biggest name on both the PGA Tour Policy Board and the PGA Tour Enterprises Board, Woods has become one of the most powerful figures in negotiations between the PGA Tour and Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), which funds LIV Golf. During what is turning out to be a slow and painful exit from competitive golf, Woods is helping to set the direction of the future of the game.

At Valhalla, he took on his new role.

“We’re trying to make the PGA TOUR the best it can be day-in and day-out,” he said Tuesday. “That’s one of the reasons why we have arguments and we have disagreements, but we want to do what’s best for everyone in golf and the TOUR.”

About the PGA Tour’s negotiations with LIV Golf, he said, “we’re making steps and it may not be giant steps, but we’re making steps.”

Easily missing the cut at the PGA Championship after a six-over par 77 on Friday, Woods didn’t take any steps toward reclaiming a place at the top of the pecking order of the best players. At Valhalla, he still commanded the biggest galleries like he did when he won there 24 years ago. Back then, he was looked upon by many as the savior of the game, who gave an inspiring and life-changing sermon on Sunday afternoons with his golf clubs.

That seemingly ubiquitous presence on Sundays is waning, but his star still shines brightly over these players still playing on the weekend on a stage he set for them.


By: Farrell Evans
Title: Tiger Woods missed the PGA Championship cut but his legacy played on
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Published Date: Sat, 18 May 2024 16:07:58 +0000

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Revisit Amy Winehouse’s Celebration For “Rehab” Winning Record Of The Year In 2008 | GRAMMY Rewind

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When the world first heard Amy Winehouse’s ‘Back to Black’ in 2006, the album changed pop music forever with its nostalgic, trauma-stricken grief, becoming her most enduring legacy. In honor of the beloved beehive-wearing chanteuse and the release of a new Winehouse biopic, also titled Back to Black, celebrates her life and timeless music. Look back at the 50th GRAMMY Awards in 2008, when she won her first five GRAMMYs, including Record Of The Year and Song Of The Year for “Rehab” as well as Best New Artist.

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Recording Academy is the world’s leading society of musical professionals and is dedicated to celebrating, honoring, and sustaining music’s past, present and future.

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By: Recording Academy / GRAMMYs
Title: Revisit Amy Winehouse’s Celebration For “Rehab” Winning Record Of The Year In 2008 | GRAMMY Rewind
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