The Las Vegas Aces have been trying to get to Washington D.C. for a game with playoff implications since Thursday morning, but due to a number of cancellations and layovers, the team wasn’t set to arrive until around 2:30-3 p.m. ET, five hours before their now rescheduled game against the Mystics.
(The game was originally scheduled for an hour earlier at 7 p.m. ET.)
WNBA teams don’t fly charter planes; they fly coach like everyone else. And once the Aces’ Thursday flight was delayed, the rest was outside of their control. The players are not happy to still be playing in this game, tweeting through all their frustration.
Here’s what we know so far, with information from Aces director of media relations John Maxwell, who exchanged emails with SB Nation before his flight to D.C.
11 a.m. PT on Thursday: the team arrived at the airport
According to A’ja Wilson on Twitter, the team arrived at around 11 a.m. for a 1:13 p.m. flight out of Vegas to D.C.
Like we have really been here at the airport since 11am and it is now almost 6 pm.....and we are expected to play at a high level tomorrow ...— A'ja Wilson (@_ajawilson22) August 3, 2018
According to Maxwell, that flight was delayed until 2, then to 6, then to 10, before eventually getting cancelled for mechanical issues. Yikes.
1:30 a.m. PT on Friday: The team leaves for Dallas and had to split up during the layover
According to Maxwell, the team left around 1:30 a.m. to land in Dallas. But from Dallas, there wasn’t a flight that could hold everyone.
Head coach Bill Laimbeer took a flight himself that went through Charlotte to D.C., while the players took another flight. Maxwell and assistant coach Vickie Johnson took a third flight and were about to board that plane as of 1:30 p.m. ET.
Here’s what the team looked like at that point:
11:30 a.m. - 12 p.m. ET: The players finally leave Dallas en route to D.C.
According to Maxwell, the team departed for D.C. between 11:30 and 12 p.m. ET and should arrive between 2:30 and 3 p.m. ET. Then they’re set to arrive at their hotels by 4 p.m. ET where they won’t sleep and instead head straight to the Mystics arena for an 8 p.m. ET game.
And still things aren’t entirely clear. All of the team’s luggage is headed to Washington, but flying commercial, they’ll be with limited time to find everything that’s been scattered across several delayed and changed flights.
If the jerseys don’t arrive in time, Maxwell has no clue what they’d wear to the game. He speculated practice gear or the Mystics road uniforms, but added “Let’s hope we don’t have to find out.”
7 p.m. ET: Friday night’s game canceled
With just under an hour before the scheduled tipoff, the WBNA cancelled Friday’s game between the Aces and Mystics.
In total, Las Vegas will have traveled more than 24 hours by the time they land in D.C. with maybe four hours to “rest”, eat, and prepare for a game with playoff implications.
The Aces are 1.5 games out of the playoff hunt with just eight to play in the final month of the season.
This is bigger than the playoffs, though
WNBA players are still flying commercial airlines instead of charter planes their NBA counterparts enjoy. It’s an issue that has been covered extensively, though it’s unclear if there’s a solution on the horizon.
There’s also the player safety aspect. The Aces won’t have much time to decompress before warming up for their 8 p.m. game. That could put players at a higher risk for injury when they get on the court.
The Las Vegas Aces will have spent an entire day traveling for Friday’s game against the Washington Mystics, a game they need to win to keep their nose above water in the playoff race. They shouldn’t have had to wait this long for a flight. Hopefully one day, they’ll fly charter.