Kyrie Irving seemed to indicate that there could be some good news on the horizon in WNBA players’ fight to get charter flights after the Nets fell to the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday night
Irving, who is a Vice President of the NBA Player’s Association, said he was “optimistic” that a change to the WNBA rules could be coming in time for the 2023 season. Under the current setup, WNBA teams are prohibited from traveling by charter flights and clubs can be penalized if they’re caught doing so.
“As one of the Vice Presidents in the NBPA, we’ve discussed a range of these things, and I wish it was as easy as getting it tomorrow, but business takes a little bit of patience, and our W ladies have been patient long enough,” Irving said. “We’ve definitely gotta get something done, and I’m with them no matter how much it costs. I think we could all collectively come together and make something very doable happen, and we just want to have our ladies have peace of mind while they’re playing.”
The New York Liberty was fined $500,000 and team executive Oliver Weisberg was removed from the WNBA’s executive committee for violating the league’s policy on travel during the 2021 season. The issue of charter flights has only grown since Sports Illustrated first broke the story of the penalties levied against the Liberty and it will likely be a major focal point going forward as WNBA players push to close the gap in how they’re treated.
The topic of travel is also expected to play a big role in WNBA free agency this offseason as teams try to court Breanna Stewart. The former WNBA MVP is said to have made charter air travel a key part of free agency this year and the league will have to contend with the issue if Brittney Griner plays this season since she reportedly would need private travel due to security concerns.
Griner had been arrested at an airport in Russia last February after a small amount of hashish oil had been found in her luggage. She was wrongfully detained for nine months before her freedom was secured by the Biden Administration in a prisoner swap.
“(WNBA players) don’t need to be overseas all the time. They need to be here playing in front of their families every single day doing what we do,” Irving said. “So I think it’s a lesson learned right now of how we can attack this as a family because the W and the NBA, we’re a family. And I think things will be figured out before the season gets started. I’m very optimistic about that.”