Mystics coach Mike Thibault apologized via social media to the Minnesota Lynx and coach Cheryl Reeve after comments he made regarding their travel issues to get to Sunday’s game in Washington, DC.
Thibault said he was “tired of hearing” about WNBA travel delays and didn’t feel sorry for the Lynx.
“I apologize to @LynxCoachReeve and @minnesotalynx for my reaction to the question I was asked in my pregame press conference today,” Thibault wrote on Twitter. “I’m not who I am and I should just answer the question without extra drama.”
I apologize @LynxCoachReeve AND @minnesotalynx for my reaction to the question asked in my pre-match press conference today. That’s not who I am and I just had to answer the question without further drama.
— Mike Thibault (@coachthibault) July 17, 2022
The Lynx played back-to-back games on Thursday and Friday in Minneapolis and Indianapolis, and then they had flight issues on Saturday that delayed their arrival until midnight for Sunday’s 3 p.m. They lost to the Mystics 70-57.
Reeve said she contacted the league before Sunday’s game when the problems started Saturday, but no one initially responded. She said when the league finally did respond to the team, it was to suggest alternate flights, which the Lynx had already figured out.
“I’ve been in this league a long time, and if you do it long enough, you’re going to be in these situations,” Reeve said. “I think when it comes to the challenges that happen, it’s all about your leadership and your ability to work collectively in that situation. Maybe the biggest disappointment was the lack of response. From our perspective, there was no communication with the Minnesota Lynx .It was an epic fail.
“He revealed to me later that he had a communication with Washington. I warned the league that we might have a problem with the preparation because I didn’t want them to find out on social media. I don’t think it’s acceptable for me to do that.” I don’t get an answer. I can’t control how other people treat us… I thought we deserved more respect than that. We are not happy that we were not given any consideration.”
Thibault was also asked about WNBA travel delays before Sunday’s game.
“I’m tired of hearing about them,” Thibault said as he pantomimed wiping tears from his eyes. “I’m tired of hearing about it on Twitter. It happens to every team. And I understand. Every team would like to feel completely fresh. But they got here last night. They didn’t play yesterday. I know. It’s a long day. , but everyone goes through this.”
Thibault then pointed to his first year in the league, 2003, when he coached at Connecticut. The Sun had a game in Cleveland that was canceled by an outage that affected many eastern states. The Sun took a bus to Connecticut and the next morning, they took another bus to New York for an afternoon game at Madison Square Garden.
“No one felt sorry for us … and we won,” Thibault said. “We just didn’t talk about it with our players. That’s just life. I’d like to feel sorry for [the Lynx]. But I’m sorry, I don’t do it.”
Asked about the league’s contact with Washington about possibly moving the game to Sunday night, Thibault said: “We’re close to a sellout today and it’s not like they were arriving this morning. I know it was a day long journey; we all have We really were not able to accommodate them unless there was a much more extenuating circumstance than there is now.”
After the game, however, Thibault tweeted that he was sorry for the comments, and Reeve tweeted back saying he had no hard feelings.
“All right coach” she wrote on Twitter on Sunday night. “We have years of respect behind us – this situation is not going to change that.”
Travel issues have become more prominent and mentioned more frequently by WNBA players and coaches in recent years. The WNBA airs commercials for regular season games. The New York Liberty were fined $500,000 for providing flights to away games during the 2021 season after violating league rules.
Cards are usually not allowed because of concerns that it would create a competitive advantage for teams whose owners can afford them. However, the league in 2019 added cards for playoff games where teams would cross multiple time zones with only one day between games.
WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert also announced prior to the July 10 All-Star Game that the league would conduct all flights for the WNBA Finals beginning this year.