Whalen bows out

It was pretty obvious to even casual observers that Lindsay Whalen was playing her last games with the Minnesota Lynx.

She’s not a kid anymore and, besides, she’s got a full-time gig as coach of the University of Minnesota women’s basketball team. That squad has been touring Italy; she wasn’t with them because of her games with the Lynx.

Today, Whalen announced she’s retiring.

“I would like to announce that after 15 seasons in the WNBA I am going to retire after the 2018 season,” Whalen said in a statement. “I would like to thank the WNBA, the Connecticut Sun, and the Minnesota Lynx for believing in me all of these years. I look forward to the next chapter in my basketball career and wish my Lynx coaches and teammates all of the best in the future.”

She’ll have a news conference this afternoon.

Whalen deserves her spot as one of the most beloved athletes in Minnesota history, not just for her athletic achievements, but because it was obvious she had a compass unique in the world of professional athletes.

Minnesota Lynx

Yesterday’s decision by the Lynx not to start Whalen was bittersweet, portending what was to come today, and, in a way, taking away from Whalen’s moment.

She came off the bench for the first time since 2004.

“We talked quite a bit yesterday, we talked on the phone a lot,’’ Whalen said of her conversations with coach Cheryl Reeve. “We talked for a while, then we talked this morning. Obviously it’s not a decision [Reeve] came by easily. She put a lot of thought into it and she’s got to do what’s best for the team, and I want to do what’s best for the team.’’

We get it. Reeve wants to win. Whalen does, too. It feels, though, as if she deserved better.