Joe Tsai 'Going to Solve This Transportation Problem' After Liberty's Travel Issues

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVJuly 10, 2021

NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 24: Owner, Joe Tsai of the Brooklyn Nets and the New York Liberty attends a game between the Chicago Sky and the New York Liberty on June 24, 2021 at Barclays Center in New York, NY. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2021 NBAE (Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images)
Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images

New York Liberty team governor Joe Tsai called for change after the team had another flight delayed ahead of Sunday's game against the Connecticut Sun.

Tsai tweeted Saturday he's "going to solve this transportation problem for good":

Joe Tsai @joetsai1999

Getting your team to an away game and back comfortably, safely, and on time is a basic business necessity. It’s the right thing every owner should do.

Sabrina Ionescu @sabrina_i20

I love our owners. <a href="https://t.co/FYWE1ibckf">https://t.co/FYWE1ibckf</a>

The Liberty didn't arrive in Indianapolis until hours before they were scheduled to play the Indiana Fever on Friday, and they lost 82-69. The situation was about to arise once again, but New York subsequently got an earlier trip back to New York City:

Jazmine Jones @Jazmine_Jones4

BRUH THERE IS NO FREAKING WAY!!! <br>TOMORROW MORNING!?!?! <a href="https://t.co/2L0Uroz1O1">pic.twitter.com/2L0Uroz1O1</a>

Jazmine Jones @Jazmine_Jones4

We have boarded the plane ‼️‼️ <a href="https://t.co/7nUk8bzVHz">pic.twitter.com/7nUk8bzVHz</a>

This isn't a recent problem for the WNBA, since the same situation seems to unfold at least once every year. The Las Vegas Aces forfeited a game in 2018 after enduring a 25-plus-hour trip for a game against the Washington Mystics.

The new collective bargaining agreement didn't open the door for teams to charter private flights for their players and staff, with the big change being the "Premium Economy" status afforded to players.

Still, that leaves teams vulnerable to the issues that can arise while using commercial travel.

ESPN.com's Mechelle Voepel cited "financial and competitive-balance issues" as the WNBA's reasoning for its ban on chartered flights in August 2018.

"Some WNBA teams are better positioned -- particularly those owned by NBA franchises -- to use charter flights," Voepel wrote. "And that's a problem in a 12-team league that has put a premium on trying to keep a level playing field."

But one could counter that the status quo creates an unfair advantage of its own when a road team could potentially see the journey to its final destination delayed by multiple hours. The Fever were almost certainly helped by the fact the Liberty had little time to prepare before tip-off.

Having Tsai bring attention to New York's plight in such a public forum could leave the WNBA with little other choice but to finding a different solution for player travel.