To help commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Minnesota Lynx, the team unveiled its top 25 players in franchise history earlier this year. Five players stood out among them all.
There's no doubt what Maya Moore, Lindsay Whalen, Seimone Augustus, Sylvia Fowles and Rebekkah Brunson meant to the Lynx organization.
They were honored and joined 17 former Lynx standouts in attendance at Minnesota's 25th anniversary celebration game Friday night in a 71-69 loss to Indiana at Target Center.
Napheesa Collier's 28 points and 14 rebounds weren't enough to pick up the second win this season for the Lynx (1-7), but it didn't spoil a special night honoring the Lynx's rich tradition.
"Winning is what you think of when you think of the top five," Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said of Moore and company.
The Lynx's all-time starting five were the core of Reeve's WNBA dynasty, ending with a sixth Finals appearance and fourth title in 2017. The fans embraced members of that elite group with a postgame ceremony Friday night. It was almost like they had never left.
"It's been so sweet," Moore said. "Just all the good memories. A lot of appreciation for all that we've done and getting a chance to be in the same building again."
Moore officially retired in January, but she had been away from the team since 2019. No player arguably made a bigger impact on the franchise with six All-Star appearances and five playoff, all-star game and league MVPs combined on her gaudy résumé.
Whalen hadn't made any public comments since resigning as Gophers women's basketball coach in early March, but she was beaming to see old Lynx teammates. She remembered Augustus as being "the most unselfish superstar ever." She called Moore "fearless." And Fowles, who will have her jersey retired Sunday, made a case to be the WNBA's best post player ever, according to Whalen.
"You got to have a little luck, but you got to have people who are really bought into the team and to each other," said Whalen, who didn't have any plans yet after coaching the Gophers for five seasons. "The last year I played I coached right into it. So, I'm going to kind of just take a little bit of a break, a breather here and see what's next."
Collier, who was named among the franchise's top 25 players, recalled being inspired by watching the Lynx's dominance with Whalen, Moore and others who created a winning culture.
"Definitely really honored to be part of that," Collier said. "You can just see all the history that has come through this organization and the greatness that has come before us."
The presence of so much greatness in the arena Friday was a reminder of how challenging it has been for the Lynx to compete at the highest level since their championship days.
After trailing by two points at halftime Friday, the Lynx entered the fourth quarter with a 55-51 advantage. But the Fever (2-5) made a few more plays down the stretch.
Collier nailed a 25-foot three-pointer to cut it to two with a minute left, but there was a bit of rust for her team late after a six-day break. Wednesday's road game at New York was cancelled after air quality issues from wildfires in Canada.
Last Saturday, the Lynx ended a six-game losing streak to open the season and picked up their first victory this year in a victory at Washington. But they have continued to struggle with turnovers and depth, playing without rookie Diamond Miller and key reserve Aerial Powers, who were both out Friday because of ankle injuries.
"We talked a little bit about the history of our team before the game," Reeve said. "Just a bummer we couldn't win for them."