Breanna Stewart is one of the biggest names to hit WNBA free agency this winter. She's already meeting with the Seattle Storm, Minnesota Lynx, Washington Mystics and New York Liberty. But before she chooses her next team, Stewart wants to help the whole league.
She tweeted Sunday afternoon that she wants to help "subsidize charter travel for the entire WNBA" by contributing profits from her name, image and likeness deals.
I would love to be part of a deal that helps subsidize charter travel for the entire WNBA.— Breanna Stewart (@breannastewart) January 22, 2023
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?
Several high-profile former and active WNBA stars responded to Stewart's tweet offering support. That included Los Angeles Sparks forward Chiney Ogwumike, Washington Mystics forward Elena Delle Donne, Chicago Sky guard Kahleah Copper, free agent guard Layshia Clarendon, Washington Mystics forward Alysha Clark and recently-retired Seattle Storm legend Sue Bird.
Even a few non-WNBA athletes jumped in on the idea, including UConn forward Paige Bueckers, former NBA player and social media personality Rex Chapman and Memphis Grizzlies star Ja Morant.
The subject of charter flights has been an issue in the WNBA for a while but was once again thrust into the spotlight in the wake of Brittney Griner's release from a Russian prison earlier this year. Griner has already said she wants to play for the Phoenix Mercury this season and ESPN reported that some believe she will need to fly privately because of security concerns.
If that's the case, it leaves a lot of uncertainty surrounding Griner's Mercury teammates and the rest of the WNBA.
The WNBA currently doesn't allow charter flights for its clubs and commissioner Cathy Engelbert has said it would cost the league $20 million each season for every team to fly privately. Though the WNBA did charter flights for the finals, the Liberty were fined $500,000 last season when owner Joe Tsai reportedly paid to charter a private plane for his team. Players have publically pushed for charter flights, too, after several teams endured uncomfortable travel conditions that left them either stranded or exhausted for games.
It's unclear how Stewart's proposal would work within the construct of the WNBA, but it will, at the very least, reengage the conversation around fair travel or the league.