On the Road with the Phoenix Mercury
SLAM gets unprecedented access inside the WNBA.
Lang’s epic post on his time on the road with the Atlanta Hawks was some of the finest writing and reporting the NBA has ever seen; rarely have we gotten such a detailed and thorough glimpse in to the lives and daily grinds of players. Perhaps more importantly, we were privy to a more of a human side of the players and got to see how normal they are – it’s their career choice that is so extraordinary.
Immediately, I pitched an idea to Ben about how different life is on the road in the WNBA. I do some writing for PhoenixMercury.com and have a pretty solid relationship with the players and coaches so traveling with Phoenix was the first and obvious choice.
While it’s no secret the NBA and WNBA are two incredibly different leagues, it may surprise you just how polarizing the differences are. Players in the NBA, NFL, MLB, etc. are fortunate enough to have private planes, catered food, millions of dollars in salaries and the luxury of bypassing much of the traditional airport experience. In the WNBA, however, everything (literally, everything) is different. WNBA players take home a fraction of what the 12th guy on an NBA team makes and, perhaps more surprising; they travel with the general public. Like the rest of us, they check-in at the curb, sit next to random people on a flight, and wait an eternity for their bags. These are some of the best and most well-known basketball players in the world – and they do this year after year simply because they love the game.
by Ben York / @bjyork
“How was it?” My fiancée excitedly asked. I had just arrived back in Phoenix after spending the past week in Seattle and Los Angeles with the Phoenix Mercury, 2009 WNBA Champions. Being a lifelong fan of the WNBA, she was excited to hear the intricacies and behind the scenes scoop of life on the road for a professional athlete.
“Umm…,” I poetically replied. If I’m honest, I had no clue how to articulate the extent to which the previous week impacted me; it was that profound. I thought for a moment, took a deep breath, and continued.
“My faith and admiration for professional athletes has been renewed.”
Bold? Yep. Exaggerated? Not at all.
As I’m sure the reader can attest to, my response wasn’t remotely close to what my fiancée expected. “Okay…what exactly happened on that trip?”
“If I tell it right,” I replied, “I think it could really change the way some of the doubters look at the WNBA; maybe, finally, help the players get some long overdue respect.”
Don’t believe me? Keep reading.