The Minnesota Lynx is celebrating its 20th year in the WNBA this season. In this 20-part occasional series we will take a year-by-year look back, featuring reflections from players, coaches, fans and others. This week: 2000
The Minnesota Lynx’s first WNBA off-season saw two key players changing addresses. All-Star Tonya Edwards and long-on-potential but even-more-problematic Brandy Reed were traded to Phoenix in separate trades.
Grace Daley (fifth overall) and Betty Lennox (sixth overall) were among the eight players the Lynx selected in the 2000 Draft. Keitha Dickerson, a second-round pick out of Texas Tech, was among the seven rookies who constituted more than half of the 13-player roster.
“I really enjoyed it and learned a lot,” Dickerson recalled of her Lynx play during a phone interview last week. The 5’-11” forward was one of four players who played in all 34 games for Minnesota that season, and she started 29 contests.
“I didn’t realize that,” she admitted when told of her feat. “I think one thing that did help me was [that] Coach [Brian] Agler had a good system. He emphasized defense.” Dickerson, as a result, was third on the team in rebounds [four a game].
Like the 1999 season, the 2000 Lynx won their first game and posted an 8-5 record in June. But they played sub.500 ball the remainder of the season, including an eight-game losing streak in July.
Yet the Lynx posted winning records against Cleveland, Portland and Miami (all 2-0) and a win each against Detroit, Washington, Orlando, Indiana and Charlotte. They had losing marks against Los Angeles, Houston and Sacramento (all 0-3), went twice winless against Seattle, and had 1-2 records against Utah, Phoenix and Utah.
Minnesota finished again two games under .500 (15-17) but .500 at home (8-8).
“Looking back at that now, the relationships and the fans were great,” Dickerson continued. “Betty [Lennox] was probably the closest [teammate] – I got to know her. Shanele [Stires] was always the jokester. We always had a good time wherever we were.
“I learned from some of the best on how to be a professional athlete and how to carry yourself to get the job done,” Dickerson said.
Katie Smith (20.2) and Lennox (16.9) were the team’s two top scorers and the only Lynx players to average double figures in 2000. Both were named to the 2000 All-Star Game in Phoenix, and Lennox, the only rookie chosen to play in the contest, also won the league’s Rookie of the Year award. The two players also made the all-league’s second team.
“I’m still a Lynx fan to this day,” Dickerson said. Minnesota waived her the next season, and she was signed by Utah, where she only played four games before again being waived. “After my playing career I wanted to be around the game of basketball, and I went into coaching,” she said, bringing us up to date. “I coached at the high school level and [coach] at the collegiate level right now.”
Dickerson today is an assistant women’s basketball coach at Mountain View (Texas) College in Dallas. She remains proud of her Minnesota days, of “being an athlete on that team…and being a part of the legacy. I’m very excited on what Minnesota has built and continues to build.”
A proud mother of a daughter, now 16, Dickerson says that Kylyn “is a wonderful student, an excellent student, and I’m very proud of that.” But her only child isn’t that enamored of her mom’s former pro basketball career.
“We have my trading card around the house,” Dickerson said. Her daughter’s comment on it: “’Oh, yeah – that’s just my mom.’ I’m just Mom.”
Charles Hallman is a contributing reporter and award-winning sports columnist at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.