Rather than run from the controversy that has swirled around the Lynx for much of the past week, coach Cheryl Reeve and forward Rebekkah Brunson took an opportunity Thursday to embrace it.
Speaking to a large media gathering following practice, Reeve and Brunson offered an upbeat message of solidarity despite a smattering of criticism that included some pointed shots from Lt. Bob Kroll, the president of the Minneapolis Police Federation.
Lynx players Saturday wore black warmup shirts to show support for police shooting victims and Dallas police, prompting four off-duty Minneapolis officers working security for the team to walk off the job.
“The silver lining is that it got people talking and that’s the important thing right now,” said Brunson, one of the team’s four captains. “It kept a conversation that may have gotten stunted going. And in talking about it, we have the opportunity to create change.”
Reeve and Brunson agreed that the publicity the team has received for off-the-court issues has not been a distraction on the court.
The proof is in the past two games, perhaps the most complete performances of the season for the Lynx. They routed routing Dallas 93-56 and San Antonio 81-57, dominating the stat sheet in the process.
In the two games combined, the Lynx shot 50 percent from the field (75-for-150), held a 94-51 rebounding advantage and committed only 15 turnovers.
“It’s no distraction,” Brunson said. “We’ve always been a team that wants to get out into the community and do the best we can to leave them better than they were before we got there.
“We’re happy to have this platform to start change towards something that’s positive.”
Reeve added that playing well and speaking up on social issues is something she expects.
“We say what we do is more than sport and this is a great example of that,” she said. “We’ve got broad shoulders. I’m really proud they’re able to do both.”
While they didn’t go so far as to mention Kroll’s comments directly, Reeve voiced appreciation toward Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges and Police Chief Janeé Harteau, both of whom publicly denounced his remarks, which included calling Lynx attendance “pathetic.”
A Facebook page, “Stand With the Lynx,” was created this week, asking fans to fill Target Center in response to Kroll’s remarks.
“We have two leaders in our community in our mayor and our [police] chief that handled their side of things,” Reeve said. “Minneapolis — the Twin Cities — tends to be a leader in these sorts of things. We should be really proud of what we’re putting forward.”