By: TC Martin
Despite a nightmare of cancelled and delays flights which included nearly 26 hours of waiting and travel, the Las Vegas Aces were forced to forfeit their scheduled game last Friday against the Washington Mystics. The game was cancelled late Friday afternoon and no makeup date was set. The WNBA announced today, the game is declared a forfeit.
Aces Head Coach and President of Basketball Operations, Bill Laimbeer said yesterday on the TC Martin Show, “We will have to wait to see what the WNBA says in their statement. After we get that statement, then we will go from there.” When asked about the toll it took on his team, he said, “It my 30 plus years as a player and coach, it was the worst travel event I have ever seen.” It wasn’t anybody’s fault.. It’s just the way it is.”
The Aces now fall to 12-16 and sit in the ninth position, two games behind Dallas for the eighth and final playoff spot. Here are the details that transpired during the 26 hour ordeal.
The Aces were scheduled to leave Las Vegas on Thursday at 1:13 pm for their Friday game in the nation’s capital at 7:00 pm EST. After several delays, the flight was cancelled leaving the team to scramble to find planes to get to DC. The only options were red eye’s, so the team booked four different flights splitting up the players and staff leaving Las Vegas between 12:30 and 1:30 am Friday morning.
After arriving in Dallas, they found more delays and players were trying to sleep in the airport. They finally arrived at their Washington DC hotel at 3:45 pm Friday afternoon with no time to eat, practice or be mentally prepared. Buses were scheduled to take them directly to the Capital One Arena to play the game that was rescheduled to 8:00 pm. However, the team never went to the arena. After talks with the WNBA league office and it’s player association, the decision was not to play the game.
“No shoot around. No night of sleep. No beds. No food. And you want us to play?” said an angry Kayla McBride. The players issued a statement in part saying, “Given the travel issues we faced over the past two days – 25+ hours spent in airports and airplanes, in cramped quarters and having not slept in a bed since Wednesday night and after consulting with Players Association leadership and medical professionals, we concluded that playing tonight’s game would put us at too great a risk for injury.”
The Washington Mystics didn’t share the same sentiment. “I’m really disappointed that the Las Vegas players and organization didn’t come to compete,” said Mystics coach Mike Thibault. “If you’re there and in the city and can play, you should show up and play.”
The Aces weren’t the only WNBA team with travel issues last Friday. The Indiana Fever were supposed to fly to New York for their game against the Liberty on Saturday. The Fever sat at the airport for three hours before being told their flight was canceled because of weather. The Fever, who had a travel party of 20 people, were planning on flying to New York on Saturday morning to play a game at 3:00pm.
All of this could be avoided if the league would treat it’s players and teams similarly to the other major sports leagues, considering they are a partner of the NBA. WNBA teams aren’t allowed to fly charter because of the cost and the competitive advantage it could give some teams willing to spend the money.
It is extremely unfortunate that the league could not come to a common ground and attempt to make up this game especially with playoff implications for both teams. According to the WNBA, that was not possible with either team having an available day to reschedule the game.
You can hear Bill Laimbeer’s interview on the TC Martin Show here on an earlier post or at TCMartinShow.com