StaTuesday: Lynx’s Whalen retiring as a Minnesota legend

Lindsay Whalen is retiring, effective whenever the Minnesota Lynx’s unexpectedly up-and-down season comes to an end.

After spending the season pulling double duty as a pro point guard and head coach of the Gophers women’s team, Whalen is off to coach full time.

Longtime Minnesota Timberwolves reporter Jon Krawczynski caused a minor social media scuffle as the Whalen celebration was getting underway Monday morning, when he declared her the best basketball player in Minnnesota history, period.

Plenty of people seem to agree, but the tweet also touched a nerve.

Do not read the replies.

Hibbing, Minn., native and Hall of Famer Kevin McHale came up early and often.

Kevin Garnett (of South Carolina), Maya Moore (Georgia, by way of Missouri) and George Mikan (Illinois) were cited as well. They are, as noted, not from Minnesota.

But regardless of Twitter’s takes on the matter (and there are so many takes), Whalen’s spot on Minnesota basketball’s Mount Rushmore is pretty secure.

A bona fide folk hero in her hometown of Hutchinson, Minn., Whalen was a member of the Minnesota High School Basketball Hall of Fame’s inaugural class earlier this year. Her return to Minnesota — the Lynx acquired Whalen in a trade with the Connecticut Sun back in 2010 — prompted the mayor of Hutchinson to declare May 7, 2010 Lindsay Whalen Day.

For good reason: A three-time All-American, Whalen rewrote the Gophers’ record book from 2000-04, powering Minnesota all the way to the 2004 Final Four, a new high for the program.

It took the Gophers just a year to retire her No. 13 jersey.

Whalen’s 2,285 career points led both Gophers basketball programs until Rachel Banham (2011-16) came along and scored 3,093. Mychal Thompson (1974-78) leads the men’s side with 1,992 points.

Year G FG% 3P% FT% RPG APG SPG PPG
2000-01 25 47.6 30.2 73.5 4.0 3.3 1.7 17.0
2001-02 30 56.1 34.9 77 5.5 5.3 2.7 22.2
2002-03 31 54.6 32.4 84.7 5.0 6.2 1.9 20.6
2003-04 27 51.4 40.0 83.2 5.1 5.4 1.9 20.5
Career 113 52.8 34.9 79.8 4.9 5.1 2.1 20.2

Drafted No. 4 overall in 2004, Whalen promptly helped the Connecticut Sun to the WNBA Finals, averaging 4.8 assists per game, fifth in the league.

The Lynx brought her home a few years later, dealing Renee Montgomery (drafted No. 1 overall the year before) and the first overall pick in 2010 to the Sun for Whalen.

The turnaround began almost immediately. Whalen and Moore, then a rookie, led the Lynx to their first championship in 2011, their first and Minnesota’s first pro title since the 1991 World Series.

She would go on to spend 15 seasons in the WNBA, helping the Lynx to three more championships and reaching a few more milestones along the way. A five-time All-Star and two-time Olympic gold medalist, Whalen was the first player in league history to reach 5,000 career points, 2,000 career steals and 1,500 career rebounds. She has been involved in 322 career wins between the Suns and Lynx, first all-time.

SEASON TEAM G MPG FG% 3P% FT% RPG APG SPG PPG
2004 CON 31 30.5 45.4 35.1 73.0 2.9 4.8 1.2 8.9
2005 CON 34 30.8 46.6 34.8 80.1 3.8 5.1 1.2 12.1
2006 CON 33 26.1 38.9 12.9 90.3 3.7 4.6 1.0 9.0
2007 CON 34 30.6 46.8 20.9 78.5 4.8 5.0 2.1 13.4
2008 CON 31 29.3 46.1 33.8 80.3 5.6 5.4 1.4 14
2009 CON 34 29.4 43.0 26.5 89.1 4.6 4.6 1.2 12.3
2010 MIN 33 33.6 41.0 22.7 89.9 4.0 5.6 1.3 12.6
2011 MIN 34 28.1 51.1 40.5 73.0 3.5 5.9 1.0 13.6
2012 MIN 33 27.0 50.5 50.0 72.7 4.2 5.4 0.7 11.5
2013 MIN 34 29.6 48.6 11.1 78.3 4.4 5.8 0.7 14.9
2014 MIN 34 30.6 48.0 10.0 77.0 4.2 5.6 0.8 14.1
2015 MIN 29 30.1 46.2 42.9 88.2 2.9 4.3 0.4 10.9
2016 MIN 32 24.6 51.3 27.3 89.2 2.6 3.8 0.5 9.8
2017 MIN 22 23.6 45.1 35.3 75.0 2.5 4.1 0.5 8.0
2018 MIN 29 19.4 34.8 33.3 87.2 2.6 3.0 0.5 5.5
Career 477 28.4 46.1 28.9 81.2 3.8 4.9 1.0 11.5

And for the record, even LeBron is Team Whalen.