Sports Odds and Ends
The MSR is the only local media member that has covered the Minnesota Lynx from the start of its 25-year existence as the team became the Twin Cities’ most successful pro franchise. Before this season, the team chose its top-25 players in Lynx history and held their 25th-anniversary celebration the weekend of June 9-11, where the MSR spoke to several of the honored players. This week: Betty Lennox (2000-02).
Betty Lennox didn’t win her only WNBA championship here in Minnesota, but she is one of the Lynx’s all-time fan favorites these many years later.
Lennox, now a middle school teacher, played on six WNBA clubs during her domestic and overseas playing career. The 5’8” guard was drafted by Minnesota in 2000, sixth overall, out of Louisiana Tech, where she played her final two collegiate seasons (1999, 2000) after taking a year off to focus solely on finishing her psychology degree.
Her endless high energy and aggressive style of play quickly endeared Lennox to Lynx fans, a still growing group for the franchise, which was then only a couple of years in existence.
“This is my first [team],” noted Lennox, sporting the special jacket given to her and the other 24 players and coaches selected to mark the Lynx’s 25 years.
The then first-year player averaged nearly 17 points, five rebounds and 2.6 assists per game, was named to her first and only All-Star team, and became the franchise’s first WNBA Rookie of the Year.
But Lennox’s second year (2001) was injury-marred, as she broke her hip, which severely hampered her play. She struggled and came back the next season but never fully regained the form that marked her rookie year.
As a result, Lennox became a part of the Lynx’s first controversial trade when she was shipped out to Miami in midseason for Minneapolis native Tamara Moore. The trade was roundly criticized by fans, who never really embraced Moore, the first and only Northsider to play for Minnesota. She was gone the following season.
As for Lennox, she became a part of two dispersal drafts, the first when Miami folded and Cleveland selected her, and then again when the Cleveland franchise folded and Seattle selected the guard.
With the Storm, Lennox looked like her old self and was reunited with former Lynx teammate Katie Smith, also picked for the Minnesota all-time top 25. Along with Sue Bird and Lauren Jackson, they helped help lead Seattle to the 2004 WNBA Championship. Her stellar play during the postseason culminated in being named Finals MVP, averaging 22 points per game.
Lennox retired from pro ball in 2011, with Tulsa (now Dallas). Her seven-year WNBA career, as well as seven years playing overseas during the offseason, included being named to the second team WNBA All-Star (2000) and the Polish Cup winner in 2007. She also started her Lennox Foundation 22 in 2005, to support children who were victims of neglect and abuse, and won the league’s Community Assist Award in 2006.
But coming back to Minnesota earlier this month, Lennox said she was deeply touched. When her name was announced, a loud chorus of cheers echoed through the arena.
“I still have those fans out there,” she said humbly. “It’s an amazing feeling when I walked in this building. I just felt the energy. I just felt the love. Brings back a lot of memories even though a lot of things are different.”
Her place in Lynx history is secure. “We weren’t able to make that championship. But you know, we laid the foundation for those championships that came after us. So I’m very, very happy and appreciative to be here,” said Lennox, enjoying the celebratory moment as she stood on the Minnesota home court. “I’m just happy to be a part of this.”