Jim Souhan: Lynx win a title, redemption and new credibility

  • Article by: JIM SOUHAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 10, 2011 - 1:25 PM

The Lynx, once an afterthought in the area sports scene, provided the Twin Cities with their first professional sports title in 20 years.

hide

Lynx players and coaches clurtched the WNBA championship trophy and posed for photos after beating Atalnta 73-67 on Friday night.

Photo: Kyndell Harkness, Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

ATLANTA -- There is a big difference between men's and women's basketball.

Unlike the men, when women celebrate a championship, they sip their champagne out of long-stemmed glasses.

We learned this because the Minnesota Lynx won the first WNBA championship in franchise history Friday night in Atlanta, then conducted one of the most genteel and organized celebrations in the history of sports.

Lynx players were just as controlled on the court, beating the Atlanta Dream 73-67 on Friday night at Philips Arena, taking the WNBA Finals in a sweep of three games. Lynx forward Seimone Augustus earned Most Valuable Player honors after averaging 25 points in the series, and caught the final pass of the season from her bookend first-round draft pick, Maya Moore, before dribbling out the final seconds.

"It makes it that much sweeter when you go through tough times," Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said.

She was talking about her team's self-inflicted fourth-quarter drama, but she could have been referencing her franchise, or Minnesota sports in general.

The Lynx had won one playoff game before this season, when they built the best record in the WNBA then went 7-1 in the postseason. Their championship was the first by a Minnesota pro sports team since the Twins won the World Series in 1991.

"One of the reporters told me that today," Augustus said. "I didn't know they hadn't won a championship in 20 years. It definitely gives the people of Minnesota something to smile about, to tell the Vikings and the rest of the teams to get on track.

"This is a very big moment for us. We're still fighting to get the exposure we need for women's basketball. I think it's here. We're starting to get some attention."

Friday wasn't about remembering history, though. It was about a talented team making history.

As if needing a reminder of franchise history, the Lynx, a gifted and up-tempo team, struggled in the first half on Friday, falling behind 37-33. They burst into the lead in the third quarter, outscoring Atlanta 19-8, with Georgia native Maya Moore and guard Candice Wiggins combining on a six-point possession.

Moore made a three-pointer, drew a foul, missing the free throw, got the rebound, and kicked to Wiggins for another three-pointer.

That spurred the Lynx to an eight-point lead, but when the Dream went to a press in the waning minutes of the game, the Lynx momentarily lost their bearings. Atlanta made it 64-63 with 1:20 left before the Lynx settled down, forced Atlanta to foul and made nine of 12 free throws to secure the title.

"We just tried to do too much, too soon," Augustus said.

They were in no rush once the game ended. The players gathered with coaches and management on a podium for the trophy presentation. The problem was, they were facing away from most of their fans, who were screaming behind the Lynx bench.

Finally the players streamed to the sideline, and Augustus' teammates chanted "M-V-P" and pushed her up onto the scorer's table, where she held up her MVP trophy.

Was she surprised to score so effortlessly in the finals? "No," she said, with a shocked expression on her face. "No way. This is what I do. I score. It's just that this year we've had an amazing team. I haven't had to score as many points as I have in years before."

The championship was borne of long years of struggles, struggles that allowed the Lynx to land Moore and Augustus with the No. 1 picks in their respective drafts. The team brought Minnesota-born point guard Lindsay Whalen home, signed veteran post Taj McWilliams-Franklin and selected Rebekkah Brunson in the league's dispersal draft.

They developed into the ideal group to promote their sport as well as win a title: A physical, defensive-minded team that could run a fast break featuring behind-the-back dribbles and reverse layups.

"I'm just glad that we were able to finish it off playing Lynx basketball," Moore said.

Lynx basketball. It wasn't too long ago that "Lynx basketball" was a punchline in the Twin Cities. Friday night, that phrase became a beacon of excellence, and perhaps even hope.

Jim Souhan can be heard Sundays from 10 a.m. to noon and weekdays at 2 p.m. on 1500ESPN. His Twitter name is Souhanstrib. • jsouhan@startribune.com

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Los Angeles - LP: B. Wilson 7 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - WP: J. Grimm 8
Detroit - WP: M. Scherzer 3 FINAL
Kansas City - LP: J. Shields 2
Philadelphia - WP: J. Williams 3 FINAL
Oakland - LP: D. Otero 0
Toronto - WP: M. Stroman 6 FINAL
NY Yankees - LP: C. Capuano 3
Arizona - LP: T. Cahill 1 FINAL
Colorado - WP: E. Butler 5
Boston 2 Top 3rd Inning
Baltimore 0
Milwaukee 0 Top 3rd Inning
Pittsburgh 0
Washington 0 Top 3rd Inning
Miami 1
NY Mets 3 Top 3rd Inning
Atlanta 0
Chicago WSox 0 Top 3rd Inning
Tampa Bay 2
Cleveland 0 Delayed
Minnesota 0
Seattle 0 Bottom 2nd Inning
Houston 5
Cincinnati 0 Bottom 2nd Inning
St. Louis 3
San Francisco - Y. Petit 7:40 PM
San Diego - A. Cashner
Texas - C. Lewis 8:05 PM
LA Angels - J. Weaver
San Diego 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Buffalo
Dallas 9/21/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
Washington 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Houston 9/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Minnesota 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Tennessee 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Baltimore 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland
Green Bay 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Detroit
Indianapolis 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Oakland 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New England
San Francisco 9/21/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Denver 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Kansas City 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Miami
Pittsburgh 9/21/14 7:30 PM
Carolina
Chicago 9/22/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 9/25/14 7:25 PM
Washington
Connecticut 14 FINAL
So Florida 17
Old Dominion 45 FINAL
Rice 42
Troy 0 FINAL
(13) Georgia 66
Georgia Tech 27 FINAL
Virginia Tech 24
Eastern Mich 14 FINAL
(11) Michigan State 73
Iowa 24 FINAL
Pittsburgh 20
Bowling Green 17 FINAL
(19) Wisconsin 68
Maryland 34 FINAL
Syracuse 20
Tulane 13 FINAL
Duke 47
Hawaii 12 FINAL
Colorado 21
Marshall 48 FINAL
Akron 17
Utah 26 Delayed 7:51
Michigan 10
North Carolina 41 FINAL
East Carolina 70
Army 21 FINAL
Wake Forest 24
Virginia 33 FINAL
(21) BYU 41
(6) Texas A&M 58 FINAL
SMU 6
Rutgers 31 FINAL
Navy 24
Central Mich 10 FINAL
Kansas 24
Florida 21 FINAL
(3) Alabama 42
Louisville 34 4th Qtr 3:54
FIU 3
Fla Atlantic 19 FINAL
Wyoming 20
Indiana 31 FINAL
(18) Missouri 27
Massachusetts 7 FINAL
Penn State 48
San Jose St 7 4th Qtr 3:14
Minnesota 24
Texas State 21 3rd Qtr 12:50
Illinois 19
Georgia State 14 3rd Qtr 13:05
Washington 0
Ball State 0 Delayed 9:30
Toledo 6
Appalachian St 0 2nd Qtr 13:28
Southern Miss 14
Miss State 14 2nd Qtr
(8) LSU 0
Northern Ill 0 2nd Qtr 14:45
Arkansas 21
Middle Tennessee 7 2nd Qtr 13:25
Memphis 9
Utah State 7 2nd Qtr 14:50
Arkansas State 0
Miami-Ohio 7 2nd Qtr 15:00
Cincinnati 7
Idaho 0 2nd Qtr 13:55
Ohio U 10
Ga Southern 0 Delayed 10:20
South Alabama 0
(14) So Carolina 0 1st Qtr 8:07
Vanderbilt 7
(4) Oklahoma 0 1st Qtr 9:30
West Virginia 0
UNLV 7:00 PM
Houston
(22) Clemson 7:00 PM
(1) Florida State
Miami-Florida 7:00 PM
(24) Nebraska
New Mexico 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 9:00 PM
Arizona
Louisiana 9:30 PM
Boise State
(2) Oregon 9:30 PM
Washington St
San Diego St 9:30 PM
Oregon State
Texas Tech 9/25/14 6:30 PM
(25) Oklahoma State
Appalachian St 9/25/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
(12) UCLA 9/25/14 9:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Middle Tennessee 9/26/14 7:00 PM
Old Dominion
Fresno State 9/26/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
(1) Florida State 9/27/14 2:00 AM
NC State
Duke 9/27/14 2:00 AM
Miami-Florida
North Carolina 9/27/14 2:00 AM
(22) Clemson
Texas-El Paso 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(20) Kansas State
Tennessee 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(13) Georgia
Vanderbilt 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Kentucky
Wyoming 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(11) Michigan State
Northwestern 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
TCU 9/27/14 11:00 AM
SMU
Iowa 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
Tulane 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Rutgers
So Florida 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Colorado State 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Western Mich 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Virginia Tech
Maryland 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Indiana
Akron 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Bowling Green 9/27/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
Arkansas 9/27/14 2:30 PM
(6) Texas A&M
Kent State 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Virginia
Western Ky 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Navy
Minnesota 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Wake Forest 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Louisville
FIU 9/27/14 2:30 PM
UAB
Miami-Ohio 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Colorado 9/27/14 3:00 PM
California
Louisiana Tech 9/27/14 3:00 PM
(5) Auburn
Texas 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Kansas
Temple 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Connecticut
(16) Stanford 9/27/14 3:15 PM
Washington
TX-San Antonio 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Fla Atlantic
South Alabama 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Idaho
Cincinnati 9/27/14 5:00 PM
(23) Ohio State
Rice 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
(18) Missouri 9/27/14 6:00 PM
(14) So Carolina
Boise State 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Air Force
Central Mich 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Toledo
Troy 9/27/14 6:00 PM
ULM
New Mexico St 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(8) LSU
Memphis 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(10) Ole Miss
Texas State 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Tulsa
Washington St 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Utah
(9) Notre Dame 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Syracuse
(7) Baylor 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Iowa State
UNLV 9/27/14 7:00 PM
San Diego St
Illinois 9/27/14 8:00 PM
(24) Nebraska
Oregon State 9/27/14 9:30 PM
(17) USC
Nevada 9/27/14 9:30 PM
San Jose St
Vancouver FC 0 FINAL
Portland 3
Houston 0 1st Half 1:00
Philadelphia 0
New England 0 1st Half 30:00
Columbus 0
San Jose 0 1st Half 35:00
Montreal 0
Seattle 0 1st Half 25:00
Red Bull New York 1
D.C. 7:30 PM
Chicago
FC Dallas 9:30 PM
Los Angeles
Toronto 40 FINAL
Brt Columbia 23
Edmonton 1 11:57
Hamilton 3
Calgary 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Montreal
Ottawa 9/21/14 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Montreal 9/26/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 9/26/14 9:00 PM
Edmonton
Hamilton 9/27/14 5:30 PM
Winnipeg
Brt Columbia 9/27/14 8:30 PM
Calgary
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close