Lindsay Whalen is sort of an expert on winning. Not only does she play for the Lynx — three-time WNBA champions and a team that went undefeated in May again this season, stretching their winning streak in that month to 23 games dating to 2012 — but also she is poised to break the league record for most victories by a player. She chatted about winning with the Star Tribune’s Michael Rand:
Q You didn’t lose in May, once again. I saw your explanation is that May is your birthday month. Do you really believe that?
A I mean, I really believe May has been a good month for us. But really, it’s because of training camp. I was being funny because it’s a big joke in our family about birthday months. It’s no longer a day or week, but it’s a month. We have a lot of May birthdays on our team. It felt like the right thing to say. But it’s because of camp. The way we prepare and focus coming out of camp, everyone is ready to go right from the start.
Q Is the May streak something you talk about?
A We never talked about it once, honestly. All the sudden it was on Twitter and people were talking about it, and then you look back and say, “Wow, there’s something to that.” Best explanation, like I said, is training camp and how we focus. It starts with the coaches.
Q You’re closing in on an impressive WNBA record for victories, too. What does that say or mean to you?
A Yeah, I heard about that. I’ve been fortunate to be a part of a lot of really good teams. I’ve played for two of the best coaches in WNBA history. I’ve been lucky with that. I’ve played with some of the all-time greats in the game. But it’s a pretty cool stat because every time you show up to the gym, your goal is to win.
Q Winning obviously never gets old, but how would you describe your competitive nature and drive to win?
A I don’t know, I’ve always just had a high level of competitiveness. I’ve always loved playing sports, just growing up playing whatever sport it was. Of course you want to win, but also enjoying the game and having fun with it is a big thing too. When you do enjoy it and have fun with the game and teammates, winning comes along with it. Staying as consistent as possible is huge. I think there are a couple wins every season that come because you had a really good shootaround and warmup. I really believe that. Some nights you can’t make a basket but you rebound the heck out of the ball and defend well, and there are a couple wins a season like that. If you understand that, it leads to focus, communication and preparation. I’ve seen a lot of games where maybe we weren’t the best team that night but we executed a couple things and won.
Q Is that an underrated part about the Lynx and the run you’ve been on — the different ways you can win a game?
A Absolutely. There are a lot of intangibles, too. We play 34 games, there are 12 teams. You have to be able to win a lot of different ways. The other night the bench really pulled through for us. There’s a win in that. We don’t underrate it. We take it very seriously and put a lot of focus on a lot of different things. Our coaches put a lot of time and preparation into it. We truly do listen and want to do the best we can for each other and our team.