The 2022 WNBA season is officially underway, and four teams are vying for the eighth and final playoff spot and are currently separated by one game in the standings. One of those teams is the Los Angeles Sparks, who kept their playoff dreams alive with a dramatic win over the Washington Mystics, 79-76, on Sunday in D.C.
Unfortunately, it’s what happened after the game that is grabbing the headlines right now.
Sparks was set to return to Los Angeles at 1 a.m. Their flight was reportedly delayed several times and was delayed until 9 a.m. Monday morning. There were not enough hotel beds for the players and staff, so some had to spend the night at the airport. That includes former WNBA MVP Nneka Ogwumike.
Ogwumike and her younger sister Chini — who you might recognize from her role as an ESPN NBA analyst — took a video from the airport where they spent the night. Watch the video here:
Here is what Ogumike had to say in the video:
“We’re wandering around the airport. This is the first time I’ve slept in an airport in 11 seasons.” But based on travel… it was only a matter of time. So half of us slept in the airport. Half of us are in the hotel. There weren’t enough rooms.”
Ogumike is also the president of the WNBA Players Association.
A Sparks assistant coach tweeted this image:
WNBA teams fly on commercial flights, while NBA teams and most top college programs fly on charter flights. Travel has been a major pain for players in the league for years. Earlier this summer, Las Vegas Aces star Kelsey Plum said the Jets were her toughest competition of the season.
Wannabe Reporter: “Who is your toughest competitor this season?”
Me: The airlines are just cruel
— Kelsey Plum (@Kelseyplum10) July 18, 2022
Last season, the New York Liberty were fined $500,000 for offering charter flights to games that the league deemed an unfair competitive advantage.
This is another black eye for the league. Imagine an NBA team needing to sleep in an airport before a game that could decide their playoff fate. It will never happen.
The Sparks host the Connecticut Sun on Tuesday night in Los Angeles. Travel will continue to be a major problem for the league until it is finally resolved.