Lindsay Whalen needs no introduction in Minnesota. But she does, anyway, with a simple and humorous “Hey guys. Lindsay” at Target Center in Minneapolis last month. Outside the hall’s hallways are four WNBA championship trophies she helped bring home.
There are a few places where she wants to publicly promote herself. Her career, one of the greatest in basketball history, is a well-known fact in the Midwest, and she will be honored at the game on Saturday. Whalen will be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2022 in a 13-member class that includes Team USA teammate Swin Cash and former WNBA coach Marianne Stanley.
“It’s something I never expected at any point in my career, but it’s obviously a huge honor to be able to walk in with the greats,” Whalen, 40, said in April after the announcement.
Whalen is a first-time nominee and the first Lynx player in franchise history to be selected in her first year. She received at least 18 of 24 votes from the Naismith Honors Committee. Her former teammates from the original 2010s squad will surely follow after building a dynasty that included four championships in seven years (2011, ’13, ’15, ’17).
A 5-foot-9 point guard from Hutchinson, Minnesota, she was drafted No. 4 overall by the Connecticut Sun in the 2004 WNBA Draft at the University of Minnesota, “shattering the program’s record book” in her own words during her collegiate career. Weeks before the draft, she led the high school to its only Final Four appearance.
She played six seasons with the Suns and finished in the league’s top five in assists every year except for her final season in 2009, when she was sixth. The Lynx found the hometown hero before the 2010 season and went on to a .701 winning percentage (201-82) in her nine years there. Wallen led the team in wins (5.7) during the 2011 title season and made back-to-back playoff appearances from 2011-13 and 2015-17.
The story continues
The five-time All-WNBA selection retires as the league’s all-time wins leader (323), a mark surpassed by Sue Bird in June. She was a three-time winner of the WNBA’s Peak Performer Award for leading all players in assists per game, and ranked ninth in career assists (2,345), career win shares (59.8) and 19th in career points (5,523). In the year In 2016, while still playing, she made the league’s “Top 20@20” list of the top 20 players in league history. And in 2021, she won the “W25” awards.
In an entertaining interview with Michael Rand, host of the Star Tribune’s “Daily Delivery” podcast at the Minnesota State Fair, Whalen said she doesn’t want to grow up to be famous. In the final years of her career, she saw potential on the horizon, accolades mounting.
“Once you see what others have come in and accomplished [and] You start to see their speech and the boost and everything, so, it was like, yeah,” said Wallen, who in typical Midwest fashion spotted her mother-in-law and nephew mid-interview and talked to them. Going into the last few years, I thought if I had a little bit of success, whether it was the Olympic team or the last 2017 championship team, I thought, ‘That might do it.’ It might be something that gets me inside.’ And thankfully it happened.
“At the end of my career, it was something I wanted to do and I wanted to achieve and I wanted to be there. I am competitive and I love the game and so, yes I am excited.
Whalen remains the franchise leader in assists (1,394), second in games played (283) and fourth in scoring (3,233). She holds the single-season franchise record for assists with 199 in 2011 and is now tied with Seattle Storm head coach Noelle Quinn for most assists in a single game. Whalen had 14 in September 2013 with the Los Angeles Sparks. And she hit three of the Lynx’s 12 all-time hitters.
Whalen became the first dynasty team to officially retire after the 2018 season. She was playing her final pro season in her first year as the head coach at the University of Minnesota, where she has been since the announcement in April 2018. In the spring of 2019, Maya Moore announced that she would choose a season for social justice. chase. Moore, who led the franchise in scoring average (18.4), did not return to the league.
Rebekah Brunson, the franchise leader in rebounds (2,158), retired in February 2020 to join the Lynx’s coaching staff. Simon Augustus, the franchise leader in points (5,881), will retire in 2021 and is an assistant coach with the Sparks. And Sylvia Foles, who leads the Lynx in double-doubles (88), rebounding average (9.8 rpg) and blocked shots (309), played her final WNBA game last month.
Internationally, Wallen has led the United States to two of its current seven Olympic gold medals (2012, 2016) and two world championships (2010, ’14). A decade after seeing her and the 2002 UConn team in the Final Four, she played with Cash, who was part of her induction class, on the 2012 Olympic team.
Wallen was asked in April which part of her career would make her a Hall of Famer. Were there championships, statistics, international achievements?
“I’d like to think that I’m successful on the floor, but I’m persistent and I always try to try – as much as I can. [and] Learning from my parents – treat people really, really well,” she said. “Also, do what I want people to do to me.
“It’s always been my goal to want people … to be like, ‘God, they can play basketball, but man, they’re really respectful. [and] They are truly great people.’ “