WNBA deems Las Vegas no-show to Aug. 3 game at Mystics a forfeit
WASHINGTON – After four days of deliberation, the WNBA announced Tuesday that the Las Vegas Aces’ failure to attend their Washington Mystics matchup August 3 in D.C. will count as a forfeit.
“The Las Vegas Aces have forfeited Friday’s game against the Washington Mystics at Capital One Arena because the Aces failed to appear for the game.” the official WNBA statement reads.
The Aces cited travel mishaps among the reasons for their absence Friday night after the cancellation of their matchup against the Mystics was announced.
“Our entire organization has the utmost respect for the very difficult decision our players made, and we stand with them,” said Aces president of basketball operations and head coach Bill Laimbeer. “We are disappointed with the league’s decision, but our focus is now on winning as many games as we can in our drive for our first playoff appearance.”
WNBA president Lisa Borders also released a statement:
“We worked extensively with both the Aces and Mystics to come up with a workable solution. In the end, given the limited number of days remaining in the season and arena availability, we decided to delay the start of the game until 8:00 p.m. to give the Aces as much time as possible between their arrival in Washington, D.C. and tipoff. While not ideal, it was the beast available solution to accommodate both our fans and the scheduling challenges. Since the Aces chose not to play, the result is a forfeit.”
The Aces took a flight to Dallas early Thursday afternoon. They lost 104-93 at home to the Phoenix Mercury Wednesday night. The Aces were stuck in Dallas from Thursday to Friday morning and endured numerous flight cancellations and delays.
They arrived in Washington D.C. at 2:15 p.m. ET Friday and reached their hotel at 3:45 p.m. Earlier that day, the league moved the game time from 7 p.m. ET to 8 p.m. to try and accommodate Las Vegas’ delayed travel.
“Given the travel issues we faced over the past two days—25+ hours spent in airports and airplanes, in cramped quarters and having not slept in a bed since Wednesday night—and after consulting with Players Association leadership and medical professionals, we concluded that playing tonight’s game would put us at too great a risk for injury,” the Aces said in their official statement about the cancellation on Friday.
In that same statement, the Aces made it clear that the decision was more than a no-show but a symbolic stand against travel regulations.
“Naturally, the issue of player safety is of paramount concern for all involved in the WNBA. This issue is bigger than our team and this one unfortunate set of circumstances, and we look forward to being a part of future discourse in the hope of preventing such incidents in the future.”
This decision comes with just two weeks left in the regular season with narrow margins between teams in the standings heading into postseason. After the forfeit, the Aces drop to 12-16. They fell to Connecticut 109-88 Sunday and face Atlanta today before heading home to play the Minnesota Lynx on Thursday.
Currently, the Aces are two and half games from playoff contention behind the Dallas Wings. With the Aces forfeit, the Washington Mystics improved to 17-11, tied at third with the Los Angeles Sparks.
According to the terms of the current Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) signed in 2014 between the league and its players, teams must fly coach. Opinions about the forfeit and the canceled game from around the league:
Washington Mystics head coach Mike Thibault to Hoopfeed on Friday:
“They’ve had two days to get here,” Thibault said, reminiscing on his travel plans that have fallen through but still making games. He cited his emergency travels from Ohio to Connecticut, arriving 52 minutes before the game and still suiting up to play. He also cited more recent times like the back-to-back games for Washington this year in Seattle and Los Angeles. “Everybody goes through that. There’s no excuse for it.”
Sun head coach Curt Miller, a former assistant to Los Angeles coach Brian Agler, to the New York Times:
“We would have played. Quite frankly, one of the things that was hammered down my throat by Brian Agler was that you have to go with the flow with travel in this league. We’ve all had travel challenges. There is no perfect scenario. To me, it was a surprising decision.”
Sun player Chiney Ogwumike, a vice president of the player’s union to the Norwich Bulletin
“We had no decision-making, they were just making us aware of the situation. We made the league and the player reps aware of the situation. The Las Vegas representative talked to (WNBPA director of operations) Terri (Jackson). Terri, the player and (WNBA President) Lisa Borders all discussed the situation. I don’t know what the resolution was, but at the end of the day, the Las Vegas players made their own decision through the union. The union is here to support players. It doesn’t matter if we feel they should play or not. If one person in this league has a problem, we address it and we create solutions.”