A crowd of at least 200 supporters gathered in Terminal 2 of the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport on Friday, spontaneously breaking out in chants of “Let’s Go Lynx” while waiting for the WNBA champions’ flight to return from Atlanta.
The chant suggested there was work yet to be done, but at least for a while, there is nothing but victory laps for the Lynx.
Players descended a staircase shortly after 5:30 p.m. — the slow walk was as easy as the Lynx made their 7-0 postseason run look — and the throng let loose with even louder cheers.
Among those cheering was Amy Briggs of St. Louis Park, a season ticket holder for all 15 seasons of the team’s existence. Like many, she has been through the rough times — the Lynx made the playoffs only twice and never advanced during their first 12 seasons — and didn’t want to miss out on any of the partying that goes with the good times.
There was plenty of that Thursday night, guard Lindsay Whalen said, after the Lynx swept the Dream to capture their second WNBA title in three seasons.
“When you know it’s over and you won, it’s amazing,” Whalen said.
She was among the players gleefully mobbed by fans, along with finals MVP Maya Moore and fellow Olympian Seimone Augustus. Fans held placards saying “congratulations” on one side and “2013 WNBA Champions” on the other. Many fans took cellphone pictures and videos, while players did the same looking out at the crowd in a surreal but fun scene.
Coach Cheryl Reeve was among the last to arrive. As fans started chanting her name, she blew them a kiss. The throng grew so large at one point that the route for other passengers to get to baggage claim was blocked.
Unlike 2012, however, the Lynx’s path to a title was not blocked. Players talked all year about how last season’s loss in the finals to Indiana motivated them, and it showed throughout a dominant playoff run.
“It’s a tribute to the work ethic, the game plan Coach draws up, and the desire of each and every player on this team,” said center Janel McCarville, a key addition to this year’s roster. “I had visions of this. You don’t really know if it’s going to come true or not.”
McCarville was reunited with Whalen, her old Gophers teammate, and the combination plus surrounding talent made for a potent lineup. It might even be good enough for more titles in the future.
“Let me just enjoy this one a little longer,” McCarville said. “We’ll start thinking about that a little down the line.”
For now, it’s time to celebrate. The next part of the victory tour is a parade down Nicollet Mall starting at 11:30 a.m. Monday. The route starts at 12th Street and Nicollet Avenue and flows to 7th Street, where it will turn west and head to Target Center. A pep rally at Target Center is set for 12:15 p.m.
“I have high expectations. It’s all celebration,” Moore said of the parade. “It’s a really great way to end such a remarkable season.”