Washington Mystics coach Mike Thibault apologizes for dig about Minnesota Lynx’s travel issues

Mystics coach Mike Thibault took to social media to apologize to Minnesota Lynx and coach Cheryl Reeve after comments about their travel issues getting to Sunday’s game in Washington, DC

Thibault said he was “tired of hearing about delays in WNBA travel” and that he had no sympathy for the Lynx.

“I apologize to @LynxCoachReeve and @minnesotalynx for my reaction to the question I was asked at my pre-game press conference today,” Thibault said wrote on Twitter. “I’m not, and I should have just answered the question without the added drama.”

The Lynx played back-to-back games in Minneapolis and Indianapolis on Thursday and Friday, and experienced flight problems on Saturday that delayed their arrival until midnight for Sunday’s 3 p.m. tippoff. They lost to the Mystics 70-57.

Reeve said she contacted the league ahead of Sunday’s game when the problems first surfaced on Saturday, but initially no one responded. She said when the league finally responded to the team, she should suggest alternative flights, which the Lynx had already figured out.

“I’ve been in this league a long time, and if you’ve been doing this long enough, you’re going to get into these situations,” Reeve said. “I think when it comes to the challenges that come up, it’s all about leadership and your ability to work through this situation together. The bigger disappointment was probably the lack of response. From our perspective, there was no communication with the Minnesota Lynx. It was an epic failure.

“It was later leaked to me that there was communication with Washington. I alerted the league that we might have had an issue brewing because I didn’t want them to find out on social media. I don’t think it’s acceptable that I’m not getting an answer. I can’t control how other people treat us… I thought we deserved more respect. We’re not happy that we didn’t get any attention.

Thibault was also asked about WNBA travel delays ahead of Sunday’s game.

“I’m tired of hearing from them,” Thibault said while pantomiming his eyes to wipe away tears. “I’m tired of hearing about it on Twitter. It happens to every team. And I get it. Every team wants to feel completely refreshed. But they got here last night. They didn’t play last night. I know it’s a long one Day. But everyone goes through that.”

Thibault then recounted his freshman year in the league in 2003 when he was a coach in Connecticut. The Sun had a game in Cleveland that was canceled by a power outage that affected many eastern states. The Sun took the bus back to Connecticut and the next morning took another bus to New York for an afternoon game at Madison Square Garden.

“No one felt sorry for us… and we won,” said Thibault. “We just didn’t talk about it with our players. That’s life. I want to feel sorry [the Lynx]. But I’m sorry, I don’t.”

Asked if the league is contacting Washington about possibly moving the game to Sunday night, Thibault said: “We’re on the verge of a sell-out today and it’s not like they arrived this morning. I know it’s been a long day of travel; all of us really weren’t able to accommodate them unless there were much more extenuating circumstances than now.”

However, after the game, Thibault tweeted that he apologized for the comments and Reeve tweeted back that there were no negative feelings.

“All right, Coach” She wrote on Twitter on Sunday evening. “We have years of respect behind us – this situation will not change that.”

Travel issues have become increasingly important and frequently mentioned by WNBA players and coaches in recent years. The WNBA flies advertisements for regular season games. The New York Liberty was fined $500,000 for chartering flights to away games during the 2021 season as it violated league rules.

Charters are generally not allowed due to fears that they would create a competitive advantage for teams whose owners can afford them. However, the league added charters for playoff games in 2019, where teams would cross multiple time zones with only one day between games.

Commissioner Cathy Engelbert also announced ahead of the July 10 All-Star Game that the league would charter all flights to the WNBA Finals beginning this year.

https://www.espn.com/wnba/story/_/id/34261111/washington-mystics-coach-mike-thibault-apologizes-dig-minnesota-lynx-travel-issues Washington Mystics coach Mike Thibault apologizes for dig about Minnesota Lynx’s travel issues

Emma Bowman

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