Less than six hours after their 79-68 loss in the Game 2 semi-finals to the Connecticut Sun, the Sky must be ready for a 3:30 a.m. departure to the airport.
The team will be split between three flights on Friday morning for its return to Chicago. Likewise, the Sun will fly its team on three separate flights, but they will do so from two airports.
The inability of the WNBA to provide simple travel arrangements for its players, even during the WNBA semifinals, has caused deep frustration among Sky coach / GM James Wade and coach / GM by Sun Curt Miller.
“That’s what these amazing women, the best in the world for what they live,” Sun coach Curt Miller said after Thursday’s game.
The WNBA doesn’t charter flights, instead teams face delays, strange flight schedules, and cramped seats for commercial flights. After their 89-76 victory over the Minnesota Lynx in the second round, the Skies had to catch a commercial flight at 8 am the next morning to Connecticut.
That meant they were spending their day traveling instead of recuperating and it’s not even Sky’s worst travel problem this year.
In June, the Sky faced full-day delays that caused them to arrive at their New York hotel at 2 a.m. for a 7 p.m. report later that night.
The WNBA’s eight-year collective agreement, agreed to by the league and the WNBPA last year, made slight improvements to travel arrangements. It guarantees that players will have individual hotel accommodation and will be seated in economy class plus seats on flights.
This is a factor contributing to Friday’s less than satisfactory travel arrangements for the Sky and Sun. Miller said Thursday his team were flying on separate flights to Chicago to make sure players were not seated in the middle seats.
So, once again, instead of spending precious time scavenging for a Sunday noon kickoff at the Wintrust Arena, players will be traveling.
“We wish we could charter (a flight),” said Sun Guard Jasmine Thomas. “It’s something that has been in the conversation for years, is being able to do it, especially during the playoffs. But because we can’t, we just have to take it. Both teams are going to go through similar things, so it’s not something to really complain about. “