Add Kyrie Irving to the growing list of high-profile athletes who think the WNBA needs to figure out a way to get charter flights for its players.
Speaking to reporters Thursday, Irving said that, “We’ve gotta get something done. I’m with them (WNBA players) no matter how much it costs, per se. I think we could all collectively come together and make something very doable happen. And we just want our ladies to have peace of mind while they’re playing. They 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.
“I do think it’s a lesson learned right now of how we can attack this (charter flights) as a family, because the W(NBA) and NBA, we’re a family. And I think things will be figured out before the season gets started, I’m very optimistic about that.”
Charter flights, which are not allowed in the WNBA currently, have become a hot topic again in recent weeks because six-time WNBA All-Star Brittney Griner is reported to need to fly private due security concerns.
In early December, Griner was released after being wrongfully detained — a distinction made by the U.S. Government — in Russia for almost 10 months after allegedly being caught with hash oil in her luggage. Griner, a two-time Olympian, has played in Russia for nearly a decade. Like many WNBA players, she goes overseas in the winter to supplement her WNBA income.
Brittney Griner might need to fly private. The WNBA doesn’t allow charters. What’s next?
Numerous WNBA athletes and agents have spoken out about the need to charter, with Seattle Storm veteran Breanna Stewart tweeting last week, “I would love to be part of a deal that helps subsidize charter travel for the entire WNBA. I would contribute my NIL, posts + production hrs to ensure we all travel in a way that prioritizes player health + safety, which ultimately results in a better product. Who’s with me?”
WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert has said repeatedly that charters are not financially realistic at this time.
The 2023 WNBA season tips off on Friday, May 19.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Brittney Griner needs to charter. Kyrie Irving says WNBA should do it.