Standing on stage at the KARE-TV barn at the State Fair on Saturday, with three WNBA championship trophies to her left, Lindsay Whalen grabbed the microphone, smiled and joked:
"All right, so I'm not retiring," she said.
Of course she wasn't. Though she did acknowledge that was one of the rumors she heard floating around this week when the Lynx and WNBA announced a news conference and promised a major piece of news.
The news made it official: The 2018 WNBA All-Star Game will be held at newly renovated Target Center on July 28.
With fans packed into the building cheering almost every word, a number of city and league officials touted the announcement, which will bring the best female players in the world to the Twin Cities for a weekend. On the stage were WNBA Chief Operating Officer Jay Parry, Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges, City Council member and chair of Sports Minneapolis Jacob Frey, Meet Minneapolis CEO Melvin Tennant and Lynx Director of Business Operations Carley Knox.
The team's bid for the game was a joint effort between the team, Meet Minneapolis and Sports Minneapolis.
And Whalen. Perfect for the event because of her Minnesota roots and a career that includes five All-Star Game appearances, the Lynx point guard was available because her injured left hand will keep her out of Sunday's regular-season finale. She is expected to return for the playoffs.
"I remember the first All-Star Game I went to," she said. It was 2003, in New York. Whalen, about to enter her senior year at the University of Minnesota, was with Team USA basketball there and went to the game. She remembers watching Sue Bird's famous between-the-legs pass to Lauren Jackson.
"I always remembered that," Whalen said to the crowd. "I thought maybe one day I'd play in the league, maybe be an All-Star. So we'll see you next year."
The announcement comes against the backdrop of an important regular-season finale Sunday against Washington in what will be the team's final game at Xcel Energy Center. Playoff games will be moved to Williams Arena on the University of Minnesota campus.
The Lynx are one game ahead of Los Angeles for the top seed, and need to finish ahead of the Sparks — who play host to Connecticut on Sunday — because L.A. won the head-to-head season series 2-1.
"Our goal was to be in the top two, and we clinched that a couple games ago," Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said after Friday's 110-87 rout of Chicago. "But there is something about this team that just wants more. They want to be first."
But looking forward to next summer, the first time the Twin Cities will host the WNBA All-Star Game, Knox promised a slew of community- and game-related events that will be announced in the coming months.
"We'll have creative events, events never done before to engage the city and our fan base," Knox said. "We're excited about it."
To Whalen, it's about time.
The Lynx have been playing winning basketball since 2011, winning those three trophies everyone was posing with Saturday, sending droves of players to All-Star Games. This year four players — Maya Moore, Sylvia Fowles, Rebekkah Brunson and Seimone Augustus, along with Reeve and her staff — represented the Western Conference in Seattle. Moore has won back-to-back All-Star MVP awards.
"It's our time," Whalen said. "With the success we've had since 2011, with the renovation, with our great fans, it's the perfect time."