Writer Pat Borzi of espnW, MinnPost and the New York Times recently released a book called “Minnesota Made Me,” detailing the stories and unique perspectives of some of Minnesota’s most famous athletes—both ones who grew up in the state and those who were adopted by it.
The goal of the book, according to Borzi, was to discover how “living and growing up in Minnesota shaped them as athletes and people.” His conclusion? Minnesota athletes are tough and versatile—almost all of them played multiple sports growing up and they all take pride in playing outside during bad weather.
It’s no surprise that the Minnesota Lynx and Timberwolves were featured heavily in Borzi’s work. He recently sat down with Lynx radio announcer John Focke to discuss the book, and their conversation contained several interesting anecdotes about Minnesota basketball players Lindsay Whalen and Tyus Jones.
Here’s an interesting story he told about how Whalen developed her legendary work ethic:
“When Lindsay was in high school, all five of the Whalen kids had summer jobs at the 3M plant in Hutchinson. Basically assembly line. There was a day shift and a night shift and for half the summer Lindsay was on the night shift, then she got changed to the day shift, and if you’ve ever worked an overnight shift and had to change hours pretty quickly it’s a shock to your body.”
“Her dad’s working the same shift, so it’s six o’clock in the morning and she comes downstairs and she’s 17 years old and she’s exhausted because she wasn’t able to sleep the night before, and she’s trying to talk her dad into basically letting her call in sick and her dad was like ‘uh-uh,’ we go to work, this is what we do. So she slugged down a couple of Mountain Dews and the first cup of coffee she ever had in her life, and made it work. The lesson she learned from that, and this all made sense when you think about what she’s done over the course of her career, she learned responsibility. And it’s not just your responsibility, but everybody on that shift is relying on you. You don’t show up everybody else has to do more and that’s not fair to them.”
“So she learns a bit about responsibility and about pride in her own work. There’s some days when you don’t feel great but you still have to suck it up and go to work. That’s carried right through when you look at what she’s done in her career.”
Borzi also talked about why Tyus Jones has been so successful at every level—including his time as a member of the Lynx practice squad when he was in high school:
“Tyus has one of the smartest basketball minds you’re ever going to come across. Whalen talked a little bit about him because he was a Lynx practice player for a couple years when he was in high school. He was not only able to runs stuff that Cheryl Reeve needed to have run to prepare the starters for the next game, but he was also able to pick apart little things they were doing and pick ways to exploit, so they could say ok, we have to cover this up now so the other team doesn’t figure this out. Tyus is a terrific athlete too and really good at what he does, but what sets him apart is how smart he is. I think that’s a big reason why he’s able to compete and why he’s been able to continue to improve in the NBA. He’s going to have a nice long career if he can stay healthy, and it’s because of how smart he is.”
Borzi’s book promises to be a very interesting one, so we’d definitely recommend picking up a copy. You can also listen to his entire interview with Focke here.