Minnesota Lynx have a good time Sylvia Fowles in final regular-season house recreation forward of WNBA legend’s retirement

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MINNEAPOLIS — Because the Goal Middle crowd chanted “Syl’s Home!” and teammates and opponents alike appeared on with delight, Minnesota Lynx middle Sylvia Fowles soaked up the love right here Friday evening.

Fowles, a former MVP and the WNBA’s all-time main rebounder, will retire at season’s finish, and the Lynx and their followers wished to verify she felt appreciated. Fowles has spent the final eight seasons of her 15-year WNBA profession with Minnesota, a spot that turned out to be an ideal match for the Florida native.

“What hit me the toughest within the ceremony was the followers,” Fowles mentioned of the postgame celebration that was held on the courtroom after the Lynx fell 96-69 to Seattle in Minnesota’s final regular-season house recreation. “Simply listening to them scream and provides me my flowers, let’s assume. It was good.”

Fowles has been one of the vital dominant facilities ever in ladies’s basketball, relationship again to her faculty profession at LSU, her seven years in Chicago after being chosen No. 2 within the 2008 draft, her Lynx tenure and her USA Basketball success, which included 4 Olympic gold medals.

Whether or not that is the final time followers will see her play on the Goal Middle courtroom continues to be not sure. Even after the loss, the Lynx are nonetheless clinging to an opportunity on the playoffs. Minnesota is now 14-21, a recreation behind Phoenix and New York, who’re tied at 15-20 for the final two playoff spots.

The Lynx might want to win at Connecticut on Sunday, after which hope both the Mercury (who play Chicago) or Liberty (who play Atlanta) lose that day. If all of them end at 15-21, the Lynx have the tiebreaker towards Phoenix and New York based mostly on head-to-head file.

“We nonetheless have another recreation left,” mentioned Fowles, who had 13 factors and 12 rebounds Friday. “We nonetheless have a bit lifeline. Tonight wasn’t our evening, so hopefully we exit and play higher on Sunday.”

Whereas it wasn’t an incredible recreation for the Lynx, who allowed the surging Storm to shoot 52.8% from the sphere in controlling the sport begin to end, it was a memorable evening for Fowles. Earlier than the sport, she and the Lynx honored Storm guards Sue Bird and Briann January, who’re additionally retiring at season’s finish. Fowles and Fowl, the WNBA’s all-time assists chief, have been teammates on 4 Olympic squads.

“It simply hit me: how blessed am I that in my profession I’ve had an opportunity to be round these nice gamers,” mentioned Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve, who’s now Crew USA’s head coach and beforehand was an assistant. “Sue and Syl, that technology, they took the baton from people who began the WNBA, and so they took this factor to a different stage.”

One other longtime Olympian, Seattle middle Tina Charles, joined Fowl and another Storm gamers who stayed after the sport for the on-court ceremony for Fowles. As a lot admiration and respect because the Storm gamers have for her, the truth is that they had one thing to play for Friday, too: the No. 4 seed and home-court benefit of their first-round collection with Washington. Seattle acquired that with the victory.

“It felt bittersweet,” Storm coach Noelle Quinn mentioned. “As a fan of Syl and understanding how wonderful she is, you do not need to destroy her evening, nevertheless it wasn’t ruined in any respect. A lot love within the stadium for her. Win or lose, it was going to be her evening and an incredible evening. Although we gained, it nonetheless was very particular for her, for the group, for the town, for us who love her as a competitor however as a good friend and as a teammate.”

Fowles went to the ladies’s Last 4 all 4 of her seasons at LSU, after which helped the Sky make the WNBA Finals in 2014. However she wished an opportunity to play for the Lynx, and sat out the primary a part of the 2015 season ready for a commerce. That got here in July of that yr, and Fowles then helped Minnesota win its third championship. The Lynx additionally gained the WNBA title in 2017. Fowles was Finals MVP each years, and league MVP in 2017.

Former Lynx guard Lindsay Whalen, now the ladies’s basketball coach on the College of Minnesota, was readily available Friday to pay tribute to Fowles, whom she joking known as by the nickname “Sylvester Flowers.” Whalen, a starter on all 4 Minnesota title groups, mentioned that whereas the Lynx had been a championship squad earlier than Fowles got here, together with her they grew to become a dynasty.

One other former member of Minnesota’s championship core, present Lynx assistant coach Rebekkah Brunson, mentioned that Fowles gave her a hug after the 2 had confronted off as opponents years in the past. Brunson joked that she questioned at first if Fowles was taunting her. Then she realized that was simply how Fowles was: a fierce competitor through the recreation, and a compassionate good friend to everybody as quickly as the sport was over.

“Not for a second was I disenchanted,” Brunson mentioned about attending to know Fowles as a teammate. “She was precisely what that hug mentioned: ‘I care about you, I assist you, I need to see you succeed. I am there for you it doesn’t matter what.’ She’s been that ‘hug’ for this neighborhood, too.”

Lynx proprietor Glen Taylor instructed Fowles on the ceremony that he watched her play with the Sky and wished she had been with Minnesota. Then, when the Lynx had been capable of commerce for her, Taylor mentioned he acquired to know Fowles and that they not often talked about basketball. Their conversations had been about methods to work in the neighborhood and assist folks.

“What hit me the toughest within the ceremony was the followers. Simply listening to them scream and provides me my flowers, let’s assume.”

Sylvia Fowles

Reeve teased Fowles by beginning a “another yr” chant on the ceremony, then mentioned she knew the reply can be, “Not no, however hell no.”

Fowles, who will flip 37 in October, is averaging 14.6 factors, 9.7 rebounds and 1.2 blocked photographs. She continues to be one of the vital feared submit gamers within the WNBA. Reeve mentioned Fowles goes out on the high of her recreation as a result of “she by no means wished to look unhealthy. She did not need to be a kind of previous gamers that possibly ought to have stop two years in the past.”

Fowles mentioned she is able to transfer ahead in her life every time this season ends, however she is glad she returned for another yr. Initially, she did not need plenty of fuss over her farewell, which has been dubbed “Syl’s Final Trip” by the Lynx. Nevertheless, it has turned out to be a candy expertise for her.

“I am very comfortable going via this complete course of this yr,” Fowles mentioned. “Originally, I wasn’t too thrilled about it as a result of I did not need the eye. However you do have to understand that individuals do perceive the work that you just put in via 15 years.

“I am by no means in search of a straightforward approach out. No matter must be carried out that evening, I believe I am the primary one to step up and be keen to try this. Me taking these duties confirmed all through my profession, and I am very happy with that.”

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