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Lynx Coach Cheryl Reeve feels disrespected by WNBA after travel issues

Minnesota Lynx Coach Cheryl Reeve voiced her displeasure with the WNBA on Sunday after a number of travel issues disrupted her team’s trip to Washington. (Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)

Minnesota Lynx Coach Cheryl Reeve was less than thrilled with the WNBA after her team faced an array of travel issues to get to Washington for Sunday’s 3 p.m. tip-off, which the Mystics claimed, 70-57. Mystics Coach Mike Thibault wasn’t sympathetic.

The Lynx were leaving Indiana after playing the second game of a back-to-back when their flight was canceled. They already had done same-day travel Friday to reach Indianapolis for a 7 p.m. game after they played in Minneapolis on Thursday. Their new flight had mechanical issues that forced them off the tarmac. The traveling party had to be split, and staff eventually arrived in Washington around 8 p.m. Saturday, with players arriving around midnight.

Reeve said she called the WNBA to alert it to potential issues early Saturday and didn’t receive a prompt response. The eventual response, Reeve explained Sunday, was to help with arranging flights instead of possibly pushing the game time back.

The greater disappointment was a lack of support that we felt in terms of unresponsive messages to the league,” Reeve said. “From our standpoint, there was no communication with the leadership of the Minnesota Lynx. And so, to me, that’s an epic fail. So was there consideration given? I have no idea. It was leaked to me later on that there was communication to Washington. There wasn’t communication with Minnesota, and I’m not sure how that would happen.”

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Thibault said the league contacted the Mystics about moving the time of the game, but because of a near sellout as the team staged Japanese Heritage Day, they decided against a change. Thibault, Washington’s coach and general manager, said every team in the league has to deal with travel issues. WNBA teams do not charter flights and must fly commercial, which is a sore spot for players.

“I’m tired of hearing about it,” Thibault said before the game. “Tired of reading about it on Twitter. It happens to every team, and I get it. Every team would like to come in fully refreshed, but they got here last night. They didn’t play yesterday. And I know it’s a long day, but everybody goes through them. That’s just life. I’d like to feel sorry for them, but I’m sorry — I don’t.”

After the game, Thibault tweeted an apology to Reeve and the Lynx for his reaction to the pregame question where he made a crying gesture.

The WNBA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Lynx were particularly frustrated with a brutal stretch of schedule: Sunday was their fourth game in six days.

I thought we deserve more respect, and I thought I deserve more respect than that,” Reeve said. “We’re not happy. We’re not happy that there was no consideration given to us.

The Mystics have had plenty of travel problems this season, including having to take a train and a bus to Connecticut after flight issues.

“It’s not like they were arriving this morning,” Thibault said. “I know it was a long day traveling, but we’ve all had them. We really weren’t in a position to really accommodate them unless there was a much more mitigating circumstance than there is right now.”