Not since the Minneapolis Lakers played here in the 1950s, and not since the Minnesota Twins’ two successful World Series trips in 1987 and 1991, have the Twin Cities seen such a successful pro team as the Minnesota Lynx. This nearly unparalleled record of success reached a new plateau in the team’s thrilling triumph over Los Angeles last Wednesday for yet another league championship.
“The crowd was loud. It was amazing to be here,” reported Ron Harris of Minneapolis to the MSR on being among a sellout crowd of over 14,000 October 4 at the Barn.
Donald Hall, formerly of Minneapolis now living in Houston, was at game five along with his 11-year-old nephew Malachi Berkley.
“Coming back [to] watch [the Lynx play] in a Gopher stadium. Why not?” Hall proudly said. “It was my first time I was at a WNBA Finals game,” added Berkley. “This game was a great experience.”
Angie Andresen and her husband Randy Larson of Edina were all smiles after Minnesota’s championship win. Angie told us, “What a fun game, what a series, what a year that was!”
“I love ’em,” gushed Taiheicheiaian Celestine-Lloyd during the post-game celebration. She and her family moved to the area after their home was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. They now live in Coon Rapids, and Celestine-Lloyd was featured in the MSR September 28 edition. “I’m a fan for life,” she proudly declared.
Celestine-Lloyd’s husband also is a huge basketball fan, but when he first arrived another local basketball team in town was higher on his watch list. “I thought the Timberwolves would be champions,” he admitted. “But I see these women soared and roared. I’m a number-one fan of the Minnesota Lynx. This is my home now. Lynx forever!”
Minnesota, in its sixth WNBA Finals appearance in the past seven seasons, was crowned the 2017 league champion after its nine-point win over Los Angeles last Wednesday at Williams Arena. Twenty-four hours later, the Lynx were celebrated with a parade of cars carrying the players and coaches through Dinkytown as fans lined University Avenue. The celebration then filed inside the Barn for a post-parade rally honoring the team.
Both fans and civic officials told the MSR that the majority-Black women’s professional basketball team has indeed reached dynasty status. The Lynx have now won four league championships in seven years. Only the defunct Houston Comets, which won the WNBA’s first four crowns in the league’s first four years, have won as many titles as Minnesota.
Both Twin Cities mayors told the MSR that the Lynx clearly are the Twin Cities’ latest dynasty in pro sports. “They are a dynasty, no doubt about that,” stated St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman. “We were honored to host them in the regular season.”
Due to the final phase of renovation for the Minneapolis downtown arena, the Lynx played the 2017 regular season home games at the Minnesota Wild’s arena in downtown St. Paul. Because the Wild’s training camp is now underway, however, the
WNBA club played its playoff games on the Minnesota campus. It was the first time a pro championship was played at Williams Arena, a U of M spokesperson confirmed.
“This franchise is first class and the community support is second to none. I wish we could have worked it out for the playoffs,” Coleman told the MSR.
Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges also called the Lynx a dynasty. “It is hard to avoid the word,” she said. “They are the best basketball team in the entire world.”
Later, during the rally, Coleman and Hodges read proclamations to the team:
“The Lynx has become a true WNBA dynasty,” Hodges declared. “This is what leadership looks like — what teamwork looks like.”
“I hope the winning ways of the Lynx will rub off on the Minnesota Wild,” said Coleman.
Fans concurred with the mayors’ assessments. “It’s a dynasty,” Harris reiterated. “The Lynx has brought a culture of winning to this city. It is a shame they don’t get the recognition they deserve.”A triumphant moment as the Minnesota Lynx players celebrate their 2017 WNBA championship victory.
The five-game Minnesota-Los Angeles WNBA Finals — three of which were played at Williams Arena — oftentimes featured 10 Black women players on the floor between the two teamsl. The Sparks’ assistant coaching staff on the sidelines were Black women (Tonya Edwards and Bobbie Kelsey) as was the team trainer (Courtney Watson).
Watson noted the final game was tense. “The whole series was a nail biter between the Sparks and the Lynx” as the league’s best two clubs for two years running.
Seeing so many Black women in action wasn’t lost on Lynx fan Tammy Curtis of St. Paul. “I have two daughters who play basketball. For them to see African American women playing at the highest level is inspiring to them as well,” she told the MSR.
Debbie Montgomery of St. Paul and her husband were among the original group of Lynx season ticket holders. “The interesting thing,” Debbie Montgomery pointed out, “is we talk about their athletic prowess, but if you look at their academic [achievements], that raised them above the level of the men [pro athletes]. They have good grades and played college sports.
Every one of these women has a degree.
“Now…they are at the pro level playing at a level that we expect out of pros,” she said.
Read more on the Minnesota Lynx in this week’s MSR sports section.
Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Charles Hallman is a contributing writer at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder. He can be reached at email@example.com