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WNBA shut down Bill Laimbeer's effort to fly players first-class to All-Star Game

The WNBA didn't let its players fly first class to the All-Star Game, even after Las Vegas Aces coach and president Bill Laimbeer set aside extra money for them to do so. (AP/John Locher)

Players across the WNBA have been hit with extremely rough travel conditions in recent years, an issue not seen in most other professional sports in the United States.

Las Vegas Aces coach and president Bill Laimbeer, at least for one game, attempted to fix that.

There was just one problem: The WNBA shut him down.

Laimbeer tried to fly every player to the WNBA All-Star Game last weekend in Las Vegas to the city in first-class, and even set aside extra money in the budget to do so. The league, he said, refused.

“I put $20,000 in our budget to fly the players first class and the league said you couldn't do that," Laimbeer said, via the Associated Press. “The league refused to let us do that. I made a complaint at the Board of Governors meeting about that specific issue. They are our best assets, they are our All-Stars, treat them with respect. I apologized to them that I couldn't get that done.”

Teams in the WNBA almost always fly commercial to games, unlike the NBA, which charters planes for its teams. Naturally, that has produced a multitude of issues in recent years.

The Indiana Fever got stuck in the Seattle airport due to “mechanical issues” last month after a game against the Storm, and ended up having to take a bus from Atlanta to Indianapolis in order to make it to their next game in time. The Aces even got stuck in an airport for a full 24 hours last year, and had to forfeit their next game.

Laimbeer was still proud of other goals he accomplished in hosting the All-Star weekend. He got players hotel suites instead of regular rooms, and provided them with two extra tickets to the game. His team even offered free hotel rooms for players across the league to come and enjoy the game in exchange for their appearance at events throughout the weekend, per the report.

All-in-all, the weekend is largely viewed as a success.

There was just one other major thing Laimbeer would have changed.

“Everything was positive except one issue, the game started at 12:30 p.m., that was the one complaint that everyone had," Laimbeer said, via The Associated Press. “They would have liked to see it start at 5 o'clock. It’s the All-Star Game, you want to get the best of time slot, as best as you possibly can.

“That's a show that hasn’t been on in a long time in the WNBA. I don't know what the ratings are going to be, I think if it was in a prime-time situation it would be better.”

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