Surrounded by her parents, siblings, husband Ben Greve and countless others, Lindsay Whalen will achieve one of her sport's biggest honors Saturday when she is inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

For Whalen, the Hutchinson native and star point guard who led the Gophers to the Final Four in 2004 and helped the Lynx win four WNBA titles in addition to countless USA Basketball achievements, it comes in the midst of a busy week as she prepares for her fifth season as Gophers women's basketball coach.

I had a chance to chat with her recently about the Hall of Fame and what it means to her.

Q: When you got the call for the Hall of Fame, or however they notified you that you had made it, what was the reaction like?

A: So, I was in my Covid quarantine. They tell you that you're on the list, and that they'll call you on this day around noon. … I wasn't expecting it, but I was happy. It was kind of like, "I can't believe this is happening." The big thing is I couldn't wait to tell my parents and tell Ben. My parents have been at everything with me through all these years. So that was going to be the next big call.

Q: Was that a goal of yours growing up or even something you imagined was attainable?

A: Definitely not growing up. I was just trying to figure out what was tomorrow. My last few years playing, once you see others that were getting in, what they had accomplished, you start to watch their speeches. Going into my last few years I figured if I had a little more success with either the Olympic team or that 2017 (Lynx) championship team, I thought about how that might do it and get me in. So yeah at the end of my career it was something I wanted to do and achieve. I'm competitive and I love the game.

Q: What do you imagine the weekend going to be like?

A: I have a big family, so it's a lot of people. Thursday night is a big dinner, and for everyone who is able to make it out there will be a private party. Friday is a whole bunch of things, activities. I think that's when we get our rings and jackets. I think there's a press conference. Saturday we go to Springfield. I've been texting with my classmates. It's fun because you get close with the people you're going in with.

Q: Charles Barkley and Dawn Staley are your presenters. How did that come about?

A: You have to pick a living member of the Hall of Fame. They give you a list of people who are living and in the Hall of Fame, and it's really not a big list. There are a few people on the list that I know personally and one of them is Dawn. Being point guards, played against her, looked up to her, she was on the 1996 team that started the women's basketball national team dynasty. … She's done so much for our game. Just to be around her with everything she's done and accomplished I thought it would be cool if she would do me the honor.

So then, my favorite player of all time growing up was Charles Barkley. I loved those Phoenix Suns teams, and I wanted to be a power forward. That was going to be my position. Then I stopped growing, I couldn't jump and I was slow. I had to figure it out and be a point guard. … But he was still my favorite player. So (Gophers assistant athletic director) Melissa Maines, she worked at Auburn and Charles Barkley went to college at Auburn. She got his number for me. And it took me about three days to send the text to him.

Q: Can you tell me what was in the text – was it brief? Was it long?

A: It was midsize. It was midsize SUV text. I actually deleted it. Here's the problem. I texted it to him and I was like he's not going to respond back. I waited a whole day, then I just deleted it. And then that night he texted me back. So I have to go back and get his response and what I said. … He said yes. He said he'd be honored and happy to do it.

Q: Do you have much of the speech done? You going for comedy or for the heart?

A: What I do is I try to have a balance. I try to have a good message. I have to thank my parents. I have to thank Ben. I have my main stories and a message. It's not going to be long because you have to keep it under five minutes. Then you get up there, you're reading off the teleprompter. I have to make sure my pauses are good for extreme laughter from everybody. It's done, and I've been practicing it. I feel good about it. And one thing we have slotted in is you have time to go over the venue and rehearse it. By the time I read it Saturday I will have rehearsed it probably 15 or 20 times. I'll probably be sick of it at that point.