The third Commissioner’s Cup Championship is upon us and it’s sure to be a good one!
The WNBA’s two super teams—the Las Vegas Aces and the New York Liberty—are going head to head for prize money, donations to charity and bragging rights in the Commissioner’s Cup Championship on Tuesday, August 15 at 9 p.m. ET on Amazon Prime Video.
With no effect on the regular-season standings, the Commissioner’s Cup Championship introduces other motivations for the two teams. A prize pool of $500,000 will be split among players on both teams, with $30,000 for members of the winning team and $10,000 for those on the losing team. Each team also has chosen a local charity to represent; $10,000 will go to the champions’ charity and $5,000 to that of the runners up.
Throughout the Commissioner’s Cup competition, all 12 WNBA teams played in support of a charity of their choice, with league donating $2,000 to a team’s charity for Cup wins and $500 for Cup losses.
How the teams got here and what they’re playing for
The first team to book their spot into the Commissioner’s Cup Championship was the Las Vegas Aces. Holding the top spot in the WNBA standings with a full season record of 27-3, the Aces had an impressive Cup record of 9-1. The charity they’ve chosen to support is the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Southern Nevada, a grassroots organization dedicated to building better lives for Americans with mental illnesses. The organization does outreach, advocacy, training and education about mental illness in order to support the community. Prior to the Commissioner’s Cup Championship, the Aces have raised a total $18,500 for NAMI Southern Nevada.
The New York Liberty sit second in the WNBA standings with a season record of 24-6. They clinched their spot in the final with a Cup record of 7-3. The Liberty chose to support Callen-Lorde, a New York-based organization that helps bring healthcare access to members of the LGBTQ+ community. The organization has provided free healthcare to LGBTQ+ people of all ages for over 50 years. The Liberty raised $15,500 for Callen-Lorde ahead of the Commissioner’s Cup Championship.
A super team showdown
But there’s more than monetary motivations at stake for the two teams in the Commissioner’s Cup Championship. The Liberty and the Aces have been pitted against each other all season, beginning when the offseason acquisitions of Breanna Stewart, Courtney Vandersloot and Jonquel Jones by New York and Candace Parker (who remains out with an injury) by Las Vegas sparked the “super team” discourse.
The teams have played each other twice in the 2023 season. In Las Vegas on June 29, the Aces dominated the game, winning 98-81. On August 6, the Aces rolled into Brooklyn—only to be dominated by the Liberty, with New York prevailing 99-61.
Both teams not only will be looking to gain the edge in this matchup, but also to cement themselves as Commissioner’s Cup Champions over their rivals.
MVP vs. MVP
This game also will be a display of two of the top MVP candidates for the 2023 season: A’ja Wilson and Breanna Stewart. Both A’ja and Stewie have been going OFF this season! They’re making history, breaking records and leading their teams. That they have nearly identical stats appropriately captures their decisive impact.
Wilson is averaging 21.2 points, 9.6 rebounds and 2.0 assists on the season. On August 11, she scored a career-high 40 points, becoming the first player in WNBA history to reach the 40-point mark without making a 3-pointer. She paired it with 12 rebounds, an assist and two steals. Wilson is a defensive powerhouse and an offensive force.
Stewart is averaging 23.3 points, 9.2 points and 3.8 assists on the season. She recently became the first WNBA player to post three games of 40 or more points in a single season, and she is one of three players in WNBA history to have three or more games of at least 40 points in a career. She ranks second in the league in points per game, fourth in rebounds and fifth in blocks.
It’s safe to say both players are playing some of the best basketball of not only their own careers but also in the history of the WNBA. Constantly compared to each other, it’s always a fun to see the two match up. And don’t worry, Stewart are off-court pals and Team USA gold medalists together.
Past the two potential MVPs, the Aces and Liberty have deep rosters that will have to contribute in order to steer their team to victory. Eyes will be on league 3-point leader Sabrina Ionescu and top WNBA point GAWD Chelsea Gray, along with Kelsey Plum, Courtney Vandersloot, Jackie Young, Jonquel Jones and more.
It’s a GIFT to WNBA fans to get an extra Aces-Liberty game this season! No matter what goes down, expect it to be full of entertaining storylines. Tune in on Tuesday night at 9 p.m. ET on Amazon Prime Video.