As if being the only local professional team to win a championship last year wasn’t enough to make this state proud, now four members of the Minnesota Lynx are heading to the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
The Lynx contingent will make up one-third of the USA women’s basketball team that will compete in August in Brazil.
Last week, Olympic coaches announced the 12-player roster from a field of 25 finalists. Four Lynx made the cut — Seimone Augustus, Sylvia Fowles, Maya Moore and Minnesota native Lindsay Whalen.
Augustus and Fowles made the Olympic team for the third time. Whalen and Moore will play in their second Summer Games for a team that returns nine members of the 2012 group that won gold in London.
“The fact that you’ve got four players from the Minnesota Lynx on the team is not a coincidence,” said Olympic coach Geno Auriemma, whose run as U.S. coach includes a 23-0 record, two world championships and Olympic gold in 2012. “You’re talking about four of the very best players in the world, and four incredibly unselfish individuals. The fact that those four spend time together, practice together, know each other — that goes a long way.’’
Lynx head coach Cheryl Reeve, who has led the team to three WNBA championships in the past five years, will be an assistant on Auriemma’s staff in Rio. Her Lynx are so inspiring to watch — and so successful — because they play so well together and so unselfishly. Auriemma said that dynamic will be just as important as the U.S. pursues a sixth consecutive Olympic gold medal.
Others on the team are Sue Bird of Seattle; Diana Taurasi and Brittney Griner of Phoenix; Tamika Catchings of Indiana; Elena Delle Donne of Chicago; Tina Charles of New York; Angel McCoughtry of Atlanta, and Breanna Stewart of the University of Connecticut.
Our hometown champs will play with — and against — some of the best players in the world. For Minnesotans accustomed to cheering “Go Lynx,” it should be easy to make the switch to “Go USA!” this summer.