Long ride ends for Minnesota Lynx

Last stop. Everybody off.

The Minnesota Lynx lost last night in the absurd one-game playoff that constitutes the opening round of the WNBA, and it feels like the end of a good book.

The Lynx, who’ve been running with a misfiring cylinder for several weeks, lost to the Los Angeles Sparks 75-to-68. It’s the 21st time the two teams have met in the last three seasons, becoming one of sports’ best rivalries.

But Lindsay Whalen has retired now, and the Lynx have reinforced the message from everyone’s grandmother: “Don’t ever get old.”

Here’s ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk:

While Los Angeles tries to keep its postseason alive in Washington, the Lynx get on a plane heading back to Minnesota with a feeling they haven’t experienced in nearly a decade. An uncertain future awaits. After reaching the championship round in six of the previous seven years, Minnesota is set to rebuild.

“I think it’s clear that we are headed for changes,” Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said. “We are a team that has been together a long, long time, eight years. That means that we are getting to a place where you just can’t keep going, right?”

“… Replacing Lindsay Whalen, obviously that is not going to be easy to do. We have a lot of work to do with our roster.”

On this night in Los Angeles, the Sparks beat the Lynx in another memorable playoff battle. But this rivalry might never be the same. Whalen’s incredible career has ended. And the very best of one of the greatest rivalries in WNBA history might have ended in the process as well.

“All good things come to an end,” Reeve said.

We may never see anything like this team in Minnesota sports again, which is why years from now, many Minnesotans will realize they should’ve been enjoying it more when they had the chance.

  • wjc

    Cheers to the Lynx, the best sports franchise in town!!

  • John

    I don’t watch any sports – just not my thing. As a result, I’m typically fairly out of touch with championships, who’s doing well, etc.

    However, I was sorely disappointed with all our local reporting a couple years ago, when i learned that the Lynx had won the championship for the xth time several DAYS after it had happened. (I’m pretty sure I overheard it on the Current.)

    If the Vikings, Twins, T-Wolves, or Wild even got close to the championship round, it would be shoved down my ears/eyes on every broadcast medium we have. I know, because on the rare occasion that they do make it reasonably far, it’s COMPLETELY unavoidable.

    Well done Lynx. You have consistently been the best in the state at sports. May you continue to be as great going forward and I hope the sports fans and media in the state begin to give you the support and fan base you deserve.

    • I don’t watch sports, I don’t watch news, I don’t read the paper, but I’m hugely disappointed with the reporting. Come on, John! Women’s sports should get more coverage for sure. As of the WNBA: the one-game playoffs, the short seasons (only 34 games), the relatively few numbers of teams in the league (12) along with the undeniable male-focused and male-dominated sports journalism world are factors here.

      • John

        Trying to reply to both you and Bob in one shot. . .

        My point was that to a totally ambivalent bystander, the local media appears to fawn over such mediocre teams as the Vikings and Twins, but spends considerably less effort on the best team in the state. (this blog being the apparent exception in Lynx coverage)

        I do watch the news (well, I used to – Can’t stand it any more, but that’s a different set of issues). I no longer read the paper (similar reasons, combined with a healthy dose of the local paper’s poor customer service/policies). I never cracked the sports section when I was a subscriber, though I would usually scan the front of it so that I could at least know what sport people were talking about at work.

        It is entirely plausible (and I think likely) that the requirements of news as business are entirely in play here (as well as a healthy dose of which teams have the biggest marketing budget). That is to say, the interest level in the Lynx is considerably lower than other teams, and coverage reflects that.

        My initial comment sprung from the last paragraph in the post – I was attempting to agree with it – I think the Lynx have been under-supported relative to their skill, and even as a non-watcher, I think that’s a shame.

        • Brian Simon

          Ditto. I’ll aknowledge that the athletes have noteworthy skills, while also questioning why anyone bothers to invest so much emotional energy into whether they win or lose.

          • John

            “while also questioning why anyone bothers to invest so much emotional energy into whether they win or lose.”

            This is the most fascinating thing about sports fans for me. The way that the loss (or win) of a game that they have absolutely no influence (or real consequence in their life) in drives their mood the following day is incredible to observe.

          • I suppose it’s like books. Or politics. They find it fun and pleasurable. Some people find other stuff fun and pleasurable.

    • I’m having a hard time with the logic here. You mention you’re out of touch with sports and coverage, and then seem to condemn all the local reporting because you assume a casual remark you heard on a music station was the first mention of an WNBA championship for the Lynx, while at the same time noting you don’t consume it.

      If you want to nail down exactly what year this was you’re referring to , I’m pretty sure I can you a more accurate picture than what you describe.

      • davidz

        I get the original comment. The media landscape of the NFL and the WNBA are night and day different. Sure, if you care about the WNBA and follow it, the reporting is there. But come anywhere close to football season, and it’s everywhere. Grocery store billboards pushing the big game as the reason to buy more. The slightest bit of good news throws the Vikings into the lead story on the news (and not just on a sports page). Or bad news.

        I don’t follow sports. I haven’t cracked open a sports section of the paper (which I still get in physical form) in, well, ever. Yet the ongoing incidental coverage makes it hard to avoid the Vikings as an institution (massive glow from the lights of their new practice facility, real estate development planned for the new facility, loss of traffic in Mankato due to new facility in Eagan).

        There is actual Lynx news lately, and I think it’s been well covered. But outside of the Lynx season, they don’t really register in the public consciousness. Ask people who the last championship team from the MN is, and I’ll bet that many, perhaps even most, won’t mention the Lynx.

        I think it’s synergistic — people don’t care much about the WNBA, so it doesn’t get covered as thoroughly as the sports more people care about. Because it’s not covered wall to wall, people’s beliefs that the WNBA doesn’t matter are reinforced.

        I don’t actively consume sports news. But I react to what I see as a voracious news consumer (print, online, radio). There’s a general media blitz for the Vikings, less so for the Twins, and next to nothing for everything else.

  • MCH

    I am a huge Lynx fan (suffering the effects this am of a 9:45pm start time for last night’s game). I have consistently been annoyed at the coverage of this special team. Great record, no scandals and just wonderful role models getting paid a pittance of what they are worth. I have a running squabble with my son (Vikings fan) that there are only about 3 days in May when the Strib doesn’t have an article about the Vikings. I have sent my share of letters to them complaining about below the fold coverage or even worse. At least MPR has added them to their sports score reporting during the news segments. Attending Lynx games has been a blast. The crowd is the most diverse you will see at any pro event and everyone there is enthusiastic and friendly. It was a hard year watching them struggle and with the increasing parity in the league I don’t see the dynasty days coming back. But will be fun to see where we go from here. We already have tickets to the Gopher Women’s Basketball home opener!