Minnesota Lynx’s Cheryl Reeve Calls WNBA Over Travel Issues
Reeve said she alerted the WNBA when things started to go wrong with the team’s trip in hopes accommodation could be found.Getty Images
WNBA Minnesota Lynx coach and general manager Cheryl Reeve was “strongly critical” of the WNBA after a day that included “travel headaches and, according to Reeve, complete silence from the league on issues,” according to Kent Youngblood of the Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE. The “roughly 12-hour travel day on Saturday” saw the Lynx attempt to travel from Indianapolis – where they played on Friday night – to DC to play against the Mystics, ending a streak in which the team “played four times in six days”. Reeve said, “I felt like we deserved more respect than that. And I felt like I deserved more respect than that.” The team’s direct flight to DC was “cancelled after the plane sat on the tarmac for 30 minutes”. Reeve said she “alert the league when things started to go wrong – and again when things went further south” – in the hope that an “accommodation could be made”, such as moving or postpone the game. Prefect: “The biggest disappointment was the lack of support we felt regarding messages that did not respond to the league. “it would have been difficult to change the scheduled match, given that the team expected a complete sell-out due to Japanese Heritage Day” (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 7/18). Thibault: “Tired of reading this on Twitter. It happens to all teams, and I understand. … That’s just life. I’d like to pity them, but I’m sorry — I don’t” (WASHINGTON POST, 7/18).
PLAYERS REACT: SI.com’s Madison Williams wrote that Lynx F Natalie Achonwa hinted at how this continued flight on commercial airlines “puts players at risk for COVID-19”, and she “is not the first WNBA player this season to bring this issue to light.” After Mystics G Natasha Cloud tested positive for COVID in May, she “called the WNBA about putting players on commercial flights when the mask mandates stopped. A day after Cloud tested positive , Seattle Storm F Breanna Stewart and some of her teammates “also contracted COVID-19”, and Stewart “also called the commercial flight” (SI.com, 7/16).
NOT ENOUGH FUNDS: The WNBA said there was a ‘simple reason’ why players weren’t allowed to fly charter planes, because unlike the NBA, there was ‘not enough money’ in the league to pay it. WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert said it would “cost over $20 million to fly all of its 12 teams on charter rather than commercial airlines for an entire season.” Engelbert: “We’re hoping that in a few years, as we get more viewers to the game, we get more sponsors, we get better media deals, that this would be something we could afford.” But she also said she “would not jeopardize the financial health of the league” by flying players on charter. However, Engelbert before last Sunday’s WNBA All-Star Game announced that the league would “cover charter flights for teams during the Finals.” WNBPA Exec Dir Terri Jackson earlier this year said the players had “many goals in contract negotiations” and “have not prioritized full-season charters, although they hope to be able to travel from this way possibly” (NY TIMES, 7/15).