The issue of charter flights was raised again in WNBAbut not for the reason many people might guess.
In the wake of Brittney Grenier released from Russiaas the six-time WNBA All-Star was detained for nearly 10 months after being found guilty of carrying cannabis oil in her luggage, there are concerns about her travel.
Griner will need to fly privately due to security concerns, according to reports, which could lead to problems across the league. Will the 6-foot-9 distinguished center fly solo away from Phoenix Mercury? Will Mercury hire a team, giving Phoenix a clear competitive advantage? Is it possible for all WNBA teams to hire in the name of justice?
It’s a complex issue.
Who calls for charters?
Sunday afternoon, seven-year veteran Brenna Stewart, Top file free agent This offseason who reportedly offers entertainment to either stay in Seattle or join the New York Liberty tweeted, “I’d love to be part of a deal that helps support charter travel for the entirety of the WNBA. I’ll be contributing my NIL hours, shares + production hours to make sure we all travel In a way that prioritizes player health + safety, ultimately leading to a better product. Who’s with me?”
Her message was supported by many in the basketball community, including several WNBA players who responded with an emoji of a woman raising her hand to hint that she is also participating. Mystics frontman Elena Daily responded, “I’m in! Whatever it takes—whatever it takes.”
Even NBA players got into the ring, with Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant saying, “Come back to me.”
But WNBA Commissioner Kathy Engelbert dismissed the idea, previously telling ESPN, “We’ve asked all the big airlines. We’ve asked the charter companies. I’ve been working on this from the moment I got into the league. Without escalating sponsors, It’s just not in the cards right now.
“If we can get it to sponsor or fund it somehow… all ears. I’ve had a lot of calls over the last year about this since we’ve been back in our 12 markets. Then when people price it out, you’ll never hear from them again.” .
Engelbert estimated that the entire season’s lease for all twelve teams would be the same It cost more than $20 million. in Previous comments to The New York TimesWhen negotiating the 2020 CBA, Engelbert said, “The players didn’t ask for first-class or charter travel. They asked for more pay.”
But the agents object to the idea that it’s one or the other.
Jade-Li English of Klutch Sports Group, which represents several WNBA players including two-time MVP A’ja Wilson, has told her clients that travel is issue No. 1, and should be prioritized over everything else, including expansion.
“It is very disappointing to see the league unwilling to prioritize player health, safety and fairness,” English told USA TODAY Sports via text message. “The NBA and WNBA are two globally influential leagues. It’s hard for me to believe they couldn’t come up with a single solution to meet the needs of these players. It’s pointing out that these women haven’t reached a consensus. Knowing about this issue is disingenuous.”
Engelbert and the WNBA declined to comment to USA TODAY Sports for this story, though the league is expected to work with Griner and her representatives to ensure her safety.
The WNBPA did not answer specific questions about Griner, but she told USA TODAY Sports in a statement that the players’ union is “always looking for ways to support members. Travel is a particular pain point that we look to address each year with creative solutions and resources. We understand that this is a health and safety issue.” to all of our members.”
How does WNBA Travel work now?
Charter flights have been a divisive topic across the league for years. The WNBA, although supported by the NBA, uses commercial air travel. In the 2020 CBAThe university agreed Upgrade players to extra economy or comfort seatsTo ensure extra legroom. Prior to the 2022 Finals, Engelbert announced that the league would hire players during the five-game championship series.
But there are problems. Last season, the Los Angeles Sparks were stranded in Washington, D.C., after a canceled flight, and They were forced to sleep at the airporta fiasco documented by Nica Ogomek, WNBPA President, via her Twitter account.
During last season’s WNBA quarterfinals, Connecticut Sun coach Curt Miller said the team wasn’t able to practice before Game 3 in Dallas because, after canceling a commercial flight and racing at the last minute to get a charter, The plane could not support the weight of Sun’s luggageincluding their training equipment.
In 2018 it was a nightmare day to travel to Las Vegas The aces where they were nearly a full 24 hours late lead to the cancellation of the game against Sophia Washington.
In March 2022, Sports Illustrated revealed That’s New York Liberty owner Ju Tsai was fined a whopping $500,000 When the league found out, he rented for the second half of the season. Sports Illustrated also reported that at the WNBA Board of Governors meeting in September 2021, the majority of the league voted against a full-time lease. Many players have expressed their frustration, with Mercury Guard Skyler Diggins-Smith calls the news “disgraceful”.
Private flying is nothing new to Mercury. After Phoenix won Game 5 of the 2021 Semi-Finals over Las Vegas, Diana Taurasi chartered a private jet To go home with Phoenix and her wife, Penny Taylor, so that Taurasi can be present at the birth of their second child, a girl named Isla.
Aces coach Becky Hammon, longtime NBA assistant, Vent for travel During the 2022 All-Star Game.
“I know we are so locked in the CBA we are at the moment, but we have to get these girls from A to B in the most efficient way possible, because it directly affects the product on the floor that you sell to,” Hammon said.
How will security work at Griner?
The WNBA spent months calling on the Biden administration to do whatever was necessary to free Griner. On December 8, Biden announced this Greener was on her way home to the United States after a prisoner swap for notorious Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout. Her homecoming was met with celebration — and vile comments from the far right.
Critics said that Greiner, who has been an outspoken advocate for Black Lives Matter and the LGBTQ community, should not be traded for a convicted felon known as the “Death Dealer”. US Senator Rick Scott (R-FL) called Commerce “Weak and disgustingAnd social media is buzzing with voices condemning her release. One political analyst called out the trade “Bad deal for America and the rest of the world.”
High-profile prisoner exchanges or releases like Greiner’s often involve a member of the military—think former US Senator John McCain, who was a prisoner of war in Vietnam for more than five years, or Army soldier Bowe Bergdahl, who was held captive by the Taliban from 2009— 2014. Normally, the US government does not provide security for civilians, which means Griner will likely have to pay for security out of pocket.
Liz Cathcart, Executive Director of US hostageInc., a nonprofit organization that helps families of Americans held hostage or unjustly detained, told USA TODAY Sports that most people who return after being captured do not need security. American Trevor Reid, who was released in April after his release Unjustly detained since 2019He didn’t need private security, and wouldn’t have the option of flying private or keeping private security given the cost.
Griner’s agent, Lindsay Colas of Wasserman, did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
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This article originally appeared in the USA TODAY: Brittney Griner needs to be hired. The WNBA does not allow that. What now?