MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — After 15 seasons in the WNBA, Lynx guard Lindsay Whalen is retiring.
The Hutchinson native has made a name for herself in Minnesota — first, in college at the University of Minnesota where she led the Gophers to their only Final Four appearance, and later helping the Lynx win four WNBA championships.
“It’s been 15 great years and college, so in the state it’s been a wild ride and I feel like we’ve done it together,” Whalen said.
Now, Whalen moves back to UMN as the Gophers’ head women’s basketball coach, and fans are excited to see what she does next.
Whalen is in a class of her own. Not only does she give her all on the court, she is a leader on one of the most talented teams in WNBA history.
Whalen’s retirement has fans reflecting on how she impacted the game.
“When I think of Lindsay, I just think of the world champion,” said Alan Arlt.
Arlt is the founder of Ultimate Hoops and has had the pleasure of watching Lindsay use Lifetime Fitness as her playground.
“We’ve seen her here multiple times playing pickup ball with our members and she is just as competitive playing pickup ball as she is playing in the WNBA,” Arlt said.
Joe Labele has followed Whalen’s career since high school.
“She’s a first-ballot Hall of Famer, she’s a winner — that’s the first thing I think of,” Labele said.
He says her list of accomplishments is among the best of any player, in any sport.
With 15 years in the league, Whalen is a five-time WNBA all-star, she also had four WNBA championships under her belt, and let’s not forget about her two Olympic gold medals. Some believe Whalen is the most accomplished sports figure in Minnesota.
“She belongs up there with Kent Herbeck, Randy Moss, Neil Broughton, Kevin McHale,” Labele said.
Even up-and-coming players know the impact Whalen has had on the sport, such as kids playing at the Sanneh Foundation at Conway Community Center in St. Paul.
“She gets buckets and she’s a team leader,” said Marquis Johnson.
They know basketball, and who their heroes are. They believe giving up playing to coach is the perfect next step for Whalen.
“It was a good decision so she can help other people get better,” Johnson said.
Others think Minnesota should celebrate her accomplishments with a little something more permanent.
“I would love to see a bronze statue of Lindsay outside Target Center. I think that would be fantastic and definitely well-deserved and well-earned,” Arlt said.
Fans we spoke to believe Whalen’s popularity will help with recruiting at the University of Minnesota and hopefully prepare great talent for the WNBA.