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WNBA team's travel nightmare results in forfeit after league ruling

For the first time in WNBA history, there has been a forfeit.The Las Vegas Aces, who are fighting for...

Posted: Aug 8, 2018 4:45 PM
Updated: Aug 8, 2018 4:45 PM

For the first time in WNBA history, there has been a forfeit.

The Las Vegas Aces, who are fighting for one of the league's final playoff spots, declined to play against the Washington Mystics last week, citing safety concerns after traveling for more than 25 hours.

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The WNBA announced in a one-sentence statement on Tuesday it considered the move a forfeit "because the Aces failed to appear for the game."

It's the first time a WNBA game has been canceled in the league's 22-year history.

The result is costly for the Aces, who are now 2.5 games out of the final playoff spot after losing to the Atlanta Dream on Tuesday.

"Our entire organization has the utmost respect for the very difficult decision our players made, and we stand with them," Las Vegas head coach Bill Laimbeer said in a statement. "We are disappointed with the league's decision, but our focus is now on winning as many games as we can in our drive for our first playoff appearance."

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Aces: Playing was 'too great a risk'

The Aces were scheduled to play at the Mystics on Friday, but flight delays and cancellations turned what is normally a four hour and 30 minute nonstop flight from Las Vegas to Washington into a chaotic trip that lasted more than a day.

Although the team arrived in Washington few hours before tipoff, the players decided they were in no condition to take the court.

Unlike NBA teams, which use private charters, WNBA teams are mandated by the league to fly commercial to create an equal playing field.

On Friday, the Aces released a statement, saying that the decision in not playing "was not made lightly."

"Given the travel issues we faced over the past two days—25+ hours spent in airports and airplanes, in cramped quarters and having not slept in a bed since Wednesday night—and after consulting with Players Association leadership and medical professionals, we concluded that playing tonight's game would put us at too great a risk for injury," the team said.

"Naturally, the issue of player safety is of paramount concern for all involved in the WNBA. This issue is bigger than our team and this one unfortunate set of circumstances, and we look forward to being a part of future discourse in the hope of preventing such incidents in the future."

To try to accommodate the Aces, the WNBA delayed tipoff on Friday by one hour at Capital One Arena. The Aces didn't show up for pregame warmups, however, and Mystics players signed autographs for fans instead. The Mystics also refunded fans with tickets that night, and offered complimentary tickets to another game.

WNBA president Lisa Borders said her office "worked extensively" with the teams "to come up with a workable solution," but had little choice other than to penalize the Aces.

Washington head coach Mike Thibault expressed his disappointment that the Aces "didn't come to compete."

"Every team I've been around in the WNBA or the NBA or the old CBA goes through this," Thibault said, according to the Washington Post. "College teams go through it, and you have an obligation to the fans who paid money to come watch you play. If you're there and in the city and can play, you should show up and play."

In the WNBA, the eight teams with the highest winning percentages, regardless of conference, qualify for the playoffs and are seeded based on their record. The Mystics clinched a playoff berth on Tuesday.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 263023

Reported Deaths: 5752
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto17675191
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Harrison14224204
Rankin11167219
Jackson10839190
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Jones6668114
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Scott259648
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Holmes171768
Clay165837
Tallahatchie156235
Stone151425
Clarke147262
Calhoun140822
Smith129226
Yalobusha122034
Walthall114337
Greene113529
Noxubee112926
Montgomery111636
Carroll106622
Lawrence106517
Perry104531
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Webster96124
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Humphreys84624
Kemper80520
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Franklin69917
Choctaw63213
Wilkinson59825
Jefferson56821
Sharkey45117
Issaquena1606
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 439442

Reported Deaths: 6657
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson644371007
Mobile31435569
Madison28158217
Tuscaloosa21492275
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Baldwin17128189
Lee13137107
Morgan12594142
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Walker6028183
Jackson599145
Colbert548694
Blount546286
Autauga535862
Coffee460764
Dale409685
Franklin374150
Russell354215
Chilton344373
Covington338580
Escambia334544
Tallapoosa3143109
Dallas312996
Chambers303470
Clarke298036
Pike262431
Lawrence253355
Marion253161
Winston233342
Bibb222348
Geneva210247
Marengo208231
Pickens199531
Hale184944
Barbour180538
Fayette177829
Butler173160
Cherokee165131
Henry159525
Monroe152021
Randolph145536
Washington141727
Clay129746
Crenshaw123745
Macon121937
Cleburne121525
Lamar119922
Lowndes114836
Wilcox107922
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Perry99918
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