Minnesota Lynx to retire Lindsay Whalen's No. 13; first of 4-time champs to hang it up

UNCASVILLE, CT - AUGUST 17: Minnesota Lynx guard Lindsay Whalen (13) brings the ball up court during a WNBA game between Minnesota Lynx and Connecticut Sun on August 17, 2018, at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, CT. Connecticut won 96-76. (Photo by M. Anthony Nesmith/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Lindsay Whalen's No. 13 will go up in the rafters at Target Center. (Getty Images)

The four-time WNBA champion Minnesota Lynx have plenty of options when it comes to retiring jerseys. Their first jersey to hang in the rafters at Target Center in Minneapolis is for a special, homegrown talent who retired as the league’s all-time wins leader.

Lindsay Whalen’s No. 13 will be retired in a special pre-game ceremony June 8 against the Los Angeles Sparks. It’s the first retired number in the franchise’s 20-year history.

Whalen, Lynx win 4 championships together

Whalen, 36, is one of the most decorated players in the history of women’s basketball. The 5-foot-9 guard was a key part in the Lynx’ six conference titles and four WNBA championships (2011, 2013, 2015, 2017) since joining the team in 2010 and has three of the team’s 10 true buzzer-beaters.

“None of this would have happen if the team didn’t have success,” Whalen said, per the Minnesota Star-Tribune. “My jersey wouldn’t have been up there if we didn’t win four championships.”

Whalen was always a team player first and holds the Lynx’ all-time assists mark with 1,394. She ranks second in games played at 283, fourth in scoring with 3,233 points and holds the single-season franchise record for assists in a game.

During her Lynx career she had a .701 winning percentage and averaged 11.5 points, 4.9 assists, and 3.5 rebounds on 47 percent shooting.

“My time with the Lynx was nothing short of spectacular and to have my jersey retired, while being the first to do so means the world to me,” she said in the team’s release.

Said Lynx owner Glen Taylor in the release:

“We couldn’t have selected a better person and teammate in Lindsay Whalen as the first Lynx player to have their jersey hung in the rafters of Target Center. Lindsay has provided us so many unforgettable moments, including four championships and numerous highlight-reel plays.”

She retired as the league’s all-time wins leader with 323 and second in playoff wins with 54. She’s third in the WNBA in career assists and is the only player in league history to have at least 5,000 points, 2,000 assists and 1,500 rebounds.

‘What happens when you stay home’

Whalen is a Minnesotan through-and-through, hailing from an hour west of Minneapolis in Hutchinson, and has spent nearly every year of her life in the state where she’s beloved.

“I don’t know if you can live a more charmed sporting life than what Lindsay Whalen has lived in Minnesota,” head coach Cheryl Reeve said Thursday at the press conference.

She played at the University of Minnesota, where she helped lead the Gophers to the Final Four as a senior in 2004. The Connecticut Sun drafted her fourth overall and traded her to the Lynx in 2010.

Almost exactly one year ago she accepted the women’s basketball head coaching position with the Gophers. Whalen both coached and played for a few months before announcing her retirement in August. Gophers season-ticket sales nearly doubled for her first year; the home opener sold out.

“See what happens when you stay home,” Whalen said during the press conference. “Good things happen when you stay at home.”

Whalen won Olympic gold with Team USA in 2012 and 2016 as well as the FIBA world titles in 2010 and 2014.

Lynx numbers to potentially retire

Whalen’s impact on the Lynx is deep, but she’s also the first of the dynasty group to formally retire.

Rebekkah Brunson holds the WNBA mark for career rebounds with 3,356 and has the Lynx mark for double-doubles (57) with Sylvia Fowles. The 6-foot-2 forward joined the Lynx in 2010 after six years with the Sacramento Monarchs, where she won her first WNBA championship in 2005. Her No. 32 is an option when the 15-year veteran decides to retire, which was a possibility this past offseason.

Seimone Augustus has played the most minutes in Lynx history (10,763) and games (358). Augustus’ 5,836 points lead the Lynx and she has the most field goals made (2,381) and attempted (4,937). Her .859 free throw percentage trails only Maya Moore (.860). Augustus, a 6-foot guard, was drafted by the Lynx in 2006 with the first overall pick. Her No. 33 was retired by LSU, making her the first female in school history to have that honor.

Sylvia Fowles is also a leader in the Lynx statistics and won the 2017 Finals MVP. The 6-foot-6 center had her No. 34 retired by LSU after Augustus and will enter her 11th season next month.

And then, of course, there’s Maya Moore. The 6-foot forward leads the Lynx in all-time 3-point field goals (464), steals (392) and blocks (164). She won the Rookie of the Year in 2011, the Finals MVP in 2013 and the MVP in 2014. The star announced in February she will sit out the 2019 season.

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