The New York Liberty has a home game Sunday afternoon in Brooklyn against the Connecticut Sun. At least, that’s what the calendar says. Delta Airlines might have other ideas on purpose.
The Liberty was already on a hard journey, which started with a flight that was supposed apart New York on Thursday at 2:00 p.m. nine o’clock at the airport when the major storms passed, that flight was canceled, and Liberty arrived in Indianapolis at 11:30 am on Friday morning… seven and a half hours before the game.
That Liberty also managed to compete with Febra in a 82-69 loss is remarkable, since anyone who tried to function as a human the day after such a travel nightmare can attest to it. But the real kick in the pants came when Liberty tried to return to New York and prepare for that game against Connecticut.
Assuming the rescheduled flight unfolds smoothly, Liberty will drop off an aircraft at LaGuardia airport at 9 a.m., about five hours before its scheduled departure with the Sun. Would they even have time to go home and leave their suitcases before heading to Brooklyn for their second game in three days amidst so many travel nightmares? And again, it is are you Freedom comes out of Indianapolis at the time of Sunday – there are storms in the forecast on and off throughout the weekend here.
I WNBA collective agreement guarantees “Premium Economy class status (such as Comfort / Economy Plus) for all players for regular season air travel”. But as long as teams fly commercial instead of getting charter flights, this kind of scenario is destined to happen.
Meanwhile, the league needs to reprogram the Liberty-Sun game, so it’s ridiculous to expect someone to spend all this time stuck at airports, then jump off the tarmac and try to play sports at an elite professional level – if he also returns to New York in time to play.
UPDATE, 2:31 pm: According to Jones, Freedom could arrive outside Indianapolis Saturday afternoon, after all. Of course, the way in his last days are gone, it’s a “believe when it happens” situation.
UPDATE, 3:28 pm: About the idea that Liberty will leave Indianapolis on a 3:30 flight … no. According to FlightAware, when that promised departure time was approaching, the plane that was to return the team to New York was still en route to Indianapolis, flying over western Ohio.
The weather has improved, so it looks like the Liberty nightmare scenario will leave a plane in LaGuardia and in Brooklyn court on Sunday will not take place. But it’s certainly still the case that 25 years after the league’s existence, WNBA teams have to be charter flying and not on the whims of commercial aviation.
UPDATE, 4:40 p.m .: Not only Freedom has finally boarded a plane to return home to New York …
… team owner Joe Tsai commits that he will “definitively solve this transportation problem.”
It’s not just the right thing to do Tsai to do, but the smart thing as owning a basketball team. There are only so many things you can control in the sport, and get your team on charter flights so you can avoid being held in airport terminals for hours on end, or blocked from night to night – even less not to mention that players are next to sneezing Steve in 12B – it’s a way to help the team do better.