Storm standout Alysha Clark had mixed emotions about airing grievances on the shoddy accommodations she received upon arrival Monday night at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida.
But she couldn’t let this stand.
Clark was one of a handful of WNBA players who publicly complained about her living conditions, which consisted of mousetraps, worms and bed bugs.
Players circulated images, which quickly spread on social media and caused an uproar among the league’s fans and supporters, including NBA star Damian Lillard who spoke out against the double standard between the NBA’s bubble in nearby Orlando.
“Our (players’ association) had busted its tail this past offseason to make sure we get great travel condition and great living conditions when it comes to being down here at IG,” Clark said. “(Initially) seeing the villas and stuff, you’re like, wow, this is really nice. And then getting here and that not being the case.
“It’s just a matter on who does that fall on? … What we showed up to was not what we were shown and told we would be accommodated with.”
ESPN’s Kayla Johnson posted videos on Twitter of a subpar laundry room with a mousetrap propped against a wall and a worm in another room in the facility.
Deadspin reported Tuesday that two teams needed to change rooms because of an infestation of bed bugs. Additionally, multiple players complained about meals.
Clark credited the WNBA, the league’s players association and Talisa Rhea, the Storm’s vice president of basketball operations and assistant general manager, for helping her move into a new room Wednesday.
“It’s not the case that all players were in the situation that I was in, because there are really nice villas like the one we moved into is much cleaner and much nicer,” Clark said. “The other one that we were in shouldn’t have even been an option in the first place. But they fixed it.”
Storm point guard Jordin Canada anticipated there would be problems while safely populating the WNBA’s bubble with 12 teams and 137 players. And she anticipates there will be a few more snags while the league attempts to host a condensed 22-game regular season and playoffs during a coronavirus pandemic.
“Coming into this I knew it wasn’t going to be perfect, and I knew there were going to be some mistakes and trying to adjust,” Canada said. “I can’t speak for anyone else, I know other people have complained about their situations, but for me I haven’t had a problem with my living situation.
“Where I’m staying at is a nice place and a nice area. I can’t really complain what I’ve experienced so far. But I do know there’s other players that have been put into a situation that’s a nice livable situation.”
Clark was a little hesitant about appearing on ESPN’s ‘First Take’ on Wednesday morning to bring further awareness to the players’ grievances.
“This is a league that I’m proud to be a part of and help grow and change,” said the nine-year veteran. “You want to make sure that when you get do get the opportunities to speak, not only do you address the issues at hand, but also make sure that’s not the only story.
“We get all this media coverage now when everything is going bad, but if we would have had that before then maybe we wouldn’t be in this situation.”
Still, Clark noted: “Seven percent of media coverage is on women’s sports. How can someone invest in us if they don’t see us? It starts with having that platform and having more media coverage.”
Most WNBA players will complete a league-mandated 72-hour quarantine period Thursday with the Storm scheduled to start training camp Friday.
It’ll be Seattle’s first time on the court since last year’s defeat in the second round of the playoffs.
“It’s always great when you get to see your teammates,” Canada said. “It’s been months since we’ve seen each other. The fact that we’ll be able to see each other again is great. I love my teammates and we all get along, so I’m excited to get things going again.”
Despite the less than ideal start, Clark is hopeful the WNBA will be able to start and finish the season.
“There’s so many different moving parts to all of this and there’s a lot of logistics to this that along the way we’re going to have to figure out,” she said. “Most part, players came in with an open mindset that we know this is going to be a work in progress as we figure things out. That’s the unknown.
“It’s hard to say, yeah, everything is going to go great, because you never know and that’s the biggest challenge in this bubble. We don’t know how it’s going to play out.”