The storied career of Lindsay Whalen added another chapter Thursday.
The Lynx announced they will retire her No. 13 jersey this season, making it the first number retired by the franchise.
“I don’t know if you can live a more charmed sporting life than what Lindsay Whalen has lived in Minnesota,” Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said Thursday at a news conference at Target Center with Whalen alongside her.
The jersey retirement will come during a pregame ceremony June 8 when the team plays the Los Angeles Sparks. The Saturday afternoon game will be televised nationally on ABC, and Whalen quipped that she relished one more opportunity to try to disrupt the rhythm of the Sparks — Minnesota’s biggest rival and the team it defeated in the 2017 WNBA Finals.
“None of this would happen if the team didn’t have success,” Whalen said. “My jersey wouldn’t be up there if we didn’t win four championships.”
The 36-year-old Whalen announced her retirement last August as she neared the end of a 15-year WNBA career with the Lynx and Connecticut Sun, which included nine seasons and four WNBA titles with Minnesota.
Before that, she was a standout with the Gophers and led them to the Final Four as a senior in 2004 — and she, of course, went back to her roots and recently completed her first season as Gophers coach.
“See what happens when you stay home,” said Whalen, a Hutchinson native, as she went into recruiting mode after hearing a list of her career accomplishments. “Good things happen when you stay at home.”
Over her 15-year WNBA career, Whalen appeared in 480 regular season games, averaging 11.6 points, 3.8 rebounds and 4.9 assists. She also played in 82 career postseason contests, posting averages of 11.6 points, 3.4 rebounds and 4.1 assists.
Among those in attendance Thursday for the announcement were longtime Whalen teammate Rebekkah Brunson, current Lynx point guard Danielle Robinson, Timberwolves interim coach Ryan Saunders and former Lynx executive Roger Griffith, who helped engineer the trade that brought Whalen to the Lynx from the Sun before the 2010 season.
“We couldn’t have selected a better person and teammate in Lindsay Whalen as the first Lynx player to have their jersey hung in the rafters of Target Center,” Lynx owner Glen Taylor, who also owns the Star Tribune, said in a statement.
The Wolves have honored two people with banners in the rafters of Target Center: Malik Sealy, whose No. 2 was retired after he died in a car accident in 2000, and longtime head coach and executive Flip Saunders, who died in October 2015 and was honored last year.
Reeve joked that Whalen retired first among the Lynx greats because she wanted to be the first from the team to have her number retired.
“This wasn’t a conversation nine years ago,” Reeve said. “Now it’s about sitting down and considering the parameters for this.”
Several players from their four-championship dynasty are worthy candidates and will be considered after their playing days are done.
“I just happen to be the first one to retire,” Whalen said. “I’m sure it’s going to be a long line of players coming up there with me.”
Some decisions might be tougher than others. The first one, though, was not hard at all.
“Lindsay was easy. There was no waiting,” Reeve said. “If she had made the announcement earlier last season, I would have said let’s have the ceremony in the last game she plays. Let’s raise it. It’s such a no-brainer.”