Lindsay Whalen approached the podium with a smile on her face. She looked happy, maybe a bit nervous, but the smile on her face never faded.
Behind her was her head coach for the last eight seasons, Cheryl Reeve. Before the press conference even started, Reeve was holding back tears.
Throughout their time as members of the Lynx, Reeve has worn her emotions on her sleeve. Whalen was the silent assassin who still has plenty of “Minnesota Nice” in her.
Reeve answers questions head on. Whalen isn’t afraid to dance around some with a few jokes.
“When I saw her walking in, I felt bad,” Whalen joked. “I don’t like making people cry.”
Here we were, on Aug. 13 at 1:30 p.m. All fitting with plenty of Whalen jerseys across the state repping her No. 13.
Whalen announced that after the 2018 season, she’ll be retiring. She’s won more than anyone else in the WNBA and ranks third in league history in assists.
Most of those wins and assists have come with Reeve as her coach.
Whalen will go down as one of the best players in league history. Reeve will go down as one of the best coaches.
What a journey it’s been for the two.
Reeve was hired as the team’s coach on Dec. 8, 2009. Thirty-three days later, the team traded for Whalen.
“(That) was an absolute no brainer, right?” Reeve said.
While they missed out on the playoffs in 2010, the two would be fixtures of the postseason for the next seven seasons, appearing in six WNBA Finals and most importantly, winning four championships. With the help of Maya Moore, Rebekkah Brunson, Seimone Augustus and Sylvia Fowles, Whalen and Reeve helped create a dynasty in Minnesota.
The relationship of a coach and the team’s point guard is one of the most important relationships in all of sports. It’s safe to say that Reeve and Whalen’s relationship is a solid one, but it’s more than that, and you can tell when the two talk about each other.
“(She’s made) all of this possible,” Whalen said. “You see today, the emotion. That’s how she is. That’s how she coaches. She pushes us. She’s made me an Olympian and a champion. We all want to do everything we possibly can to win for her because of how much she cares.”
Whalen will close out the three remaining regular-season games for the Lynx, and give the Lynx everything she has in the postseason, hoping for one more run.
After that, she’ll enter the first year as the head coach of the University of Minnesota women’s basketball. It’s a storybook ending for a player who has played the right way throughout her career. It was never about her, but it always was at the same time. She’s Minnesota basketball to so many people, and she’s even more than that to Reeve.
“Just how lucky to be here at this time?,” Reeve said with tears dripping down her face. “ . . . Just how well it worked out for her career. Just how special of a relationship (we have). I know she says she feels lucky about things, but for me it’s just once in a lifetime. That sort of relationship is once in a lifetime.”