By Larry Fitzgerald
October 19, 2016
One of the greatest joys over my 38 years as a journalist who has weathered the test of time has been watching the growth of the WNBA and locally covering the Minnesota Lynx.
I have a great appreciation for the business of sports, and believe me it’s a business in which you find out who you can trust. You also find out in time how some in the business are quick to climb on the backs of dedicated professionals.
The Lynx keep climbing the ladder. They have established a standard of greatness, and all the other sports teams in town should be taking note.
Mainstream media throw much of their attention at the Vikings-Twins-Gophers-Wild and Timberwolves in that order. They have larger followings, and more macho men go to their games. In many ways the Lynx are treated and covered by some as if they are the secondary story.
We are in a unique time. It’s an election year, and we are about to potentially elect a woman as U.S. president for the first time in history to lead the most powerful nation on earth. Women at one time could not vote and had no rights in this country, and Black women were treated unfairly due to both race and gender. But as the old saying goes, “They’ve come a long way.” The WNBA, a platform that allows women, and predominantly Black women, an opportunity to compete and shine, is now in its 20th year.
The Lynx are trying to win back-to-back WNBA titles. Sunday’s remarkable 85-79 win at Los Angeles was a test of character and the will of this great team.
With four Olympic starters and the WNBA Coach of the Year Cheryl Reeve, they are indeed a talented group. Superstar Maya Moore excelled with 31 points and nine rebounds, while Lindsay Whalen made back-to-back buckets to break a 69-69 tie.
Sylvia Fowles and her game-high 13 rebounds, Seimone Augustus slashing inside, and Rebekkah Brunson doing all the dirty work grabbing loose balls and rebounds — what a team. What heart they have collectively. I know something about winning championships. You have to impose your will and desire to win for it to happen.
The Lynx have beaten Los Angeles four times in seven regular season meetings and Finals. Thursday night, at the construction site called Target Center, the Lynx will try to grab another piece of history by going back-to-back as champions.
Good luck, Lynx, and thanks for showing the big boys how it’s done.
Larry Fitzgerald can be heard weekday mornings on KMOJ Radio 89.9 FM at 8:25 am, on WDGY-AM 740 Monday-Friday at 12:17 pm and 4:17 pm, and at www.Gamedaygold.com. He also commentates on sports 7-8 pm on Almanac (TPT channel 2). Follow him on Twitter at FitzBeatSr. Larry welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.Larry-Fitzgerald.com.
Segment 3: We keep our Olympic touch going with the Rio Games starting this coming week. Larry caught up with Cheryl Reeve as she prepares to fully transition from her full-time job as Minnesota Lynx head coach to the temporary position of U.S. Women’s Basketball assistant coach. Then, he chats with Olympic gold medal-winning hurdler Roger Kingdom about his transition from world-class track star to NFL strength and conditioning coach.
Gameday Gold Part 3 / 7-29-16
Segment 2: The decision made by the Lynx last weekend to wear shirts honoring those killed over the prior week made a lot of headlines. It also ruffled a lot of feathers. Our hosts dive into the reaction from the community, including the officers that made their own statement that night at Target Center.
Gameday Gold Part 2 / 7-14-16
Segment 5: After a historic start, the Lynx have hit a rough patch. The fellas look into the impact of the three-game losing streak the team was miring through going into Friday. And, is Maya Moore the Michael Jordan of not only Minnesota hoops, but Minnesota sports?
Gameday Gold Part 5 / 7-1-16
Segment 6: The Minnesota Lynx have continued their blazing hot start, but there’s another team that’s just as strong. The guys look into the talented WNBA Western Conference. After that, what’s the biggest scare in all of the trepidations surrounding the upcoming Rio Olympics. Plus, the PGA Tour moves on of it’s biggest events from one of it’s most recognizable “staple” courses.
Gameday Gold Part 6 / 6-10-16
Segment 6: The Lynx are looking for their own back-to-back title run. We hear about the team’s unbeaten start to the WNBA season. The Gopher baseball team is playing in the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2011. They’ll do so with heavy hearts, however, after the loss of their pitching coach. And an unexpected guest (NBA.com’s Steve Aschburner) drops by.
Gameday Gold Part 6 / 6-3-16
What is the primary purpose of sports? Is it to win? Or is it to perform as beautifully as one can financially and, in doing so, to shine a light on what it means to be human? Sports Illustrated asked that question recently, and it got me to thinking.
The defending WNBA Champions are 3-0 again, and if you look at the calendar, the season started almost a month ahead of last year. In 2015 the Lynx captured their third WNBA title, and early signs look good for Minnesota grabbing a fourth title going back-to-back.
The early start to the WNBA season is because this is an Olympic year, and with four 2016 Olympic players as starters on paper, the Lynx are certainly the team to beat. Cheryl Reeve is the league’s best coach, and she has added some depth. The Lynx look like they are motivated to prove something.
It’s been tough sledding for most of the teams in Minnesota. The Vikings won the NFC North but lost a home playoff game. The Wild made the playoffs for the fourth straight year, fired Head Coach Mike Yeo, and were eliminated in the first round.
The Gophers football team finished 5-7. Head Coach Jerry Kill resigned for health reasons, and men’s basketball under Richard Pitino was awful at 8-23.
I see where the Big Ten increased revenue by 33 percent. They did it by adding three schools — Maryland, Rutgers and Nebraska — a $110 million increase over 2014. The holdover 11 schools, including Minnesota, got $32.4 million each. I ask, is that winning?
The Timberwolves were in the NBA lottery for the 12th straight season. Losing Flip Saun
ders to cancer in October turned the 2016 season into a year of survival. Interim Coach Sam Mitchell was 29-53, a 13-win improvement over the 16 wins under Saunders. Mitchell, General Manager Milt Newton, and the entire basketball operations staff were fired.
The Twins, after 43 games, are off to the worst start in franchise history, 11-32, and on pace to lose 120 games.
This is year 20 of the WNBA, and the league appears to be stronger than ever with lots of talented players and several really good teams. The Lynx are like a breath of fresh air in this state as the big boys keep falling down and making excuses for player suspensions and injuries, just one failure after another.
The Lynx simply line up and go play. Not only do they entertain us — they also win consistently. They play together, have fun, and have established a standard from which they don’t back off. Fans appreciate hard
work by dedicated professionals who deliver positive results.
From July 23 to August 25 there will be no WNBA during the Olympics Games. We have a long way to go; however, last year’s fast start led to another title.
Segment 5: The Timberwolves and Lynx have a lot to boast about going into the Summer. Karl-Anthony Towns was the unanimous selection for the Kia Rookie of the Year award. New coach Tom Thibodeau is anxious to get to work. The success of the defending WNBA champions brought new league president Lisa Borders to town this week. Larry caught up with all of them, and we get to hear what all the buzz is about.
Gameday Gold Part 5 / 5-20-16