MINNEAPOLIS (AP) The victory parade was over, the party music in the arena was winding down and the Minnesota Lynx were beginning to exchange their goodbyes after a third WNBA title in five years.
Backstage, one of their leaders was pondering the future of this dynasty, with three starters 31 and older who all fought injuries in 2015.
There are no plans to concede, though. The Lynx will return determined to keep chasing championships with this core. Winter leagues overseas are where the players make the most money, but that’s also where their bodies can get beat up without enough time to recover from the five-month WNBA season. Seimone Augustus, Lindsay Whalen and Rebekkah Brunson will begin to taper their international participation so they can stay fresh for the summers ahead.
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”Money’s not everything, not when you’re talking about dynasties and legacies and inspiring young women and men and opening peoples’ minds,” Augustus said. ”Money can’t buy the experience of those opportunities. I’m comfortable financially. I think a lot of the young ladies here are comfortable financially. We’re not super rich like the guys, but we can’t complain. So we’ll definitely take our time with the decisions we make over the next few years.”
This team, and the league, means a lot to them.
”We’ll just kind of gauge how we feel because we really want to continue to be here for the Lynx and build not just the Lynx but the WNBA as well,” Augustus said. ”As long as you’ve got a powerhouse team like the Lynx around and other teams, it’ll continue to help this league grow.”
These decisions won’t apply to Maya Moore yet, of course. She averaged 23.4 points, 7.3 rebounds and 2.6 assists in the 10 playoff games, at the age of 26.
”Maya’s too young to discuss that,” Augustus said.
Injuries to Augustus, Brunson and Whalen and a midseason trade that changed the team’s dynamic by bringing WNBA Finals MVP Sylvia Fowles into the post made this season more of a grind than Minnesota’s first two titles. So that meant there was even more to savor.
Coach Cheryl Reeve led the lunchtime procession along a four-block stretch of Hennepin Avenue, beaming as she waved to the crowd from a red Corvette convertible.
People packed the route, four or five deep at some points, before a raucous rally inside with dancing, thanking and reflecting, plus fireworks and confetti. Gov. Mark Dayton was there, as was Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges.
Moore was especially appreciative in her brief speech of the crowd support, declaring the Fever ”had no chance” in Game 5 because of the atmosphere in the partisan arena.
”Every time we looked like we were ready to do something right, y’all were ready to go,” she said.
As Lynx radio announcer John Focke introduced Reeve for her remarks, he motioned to the three shiny trophies sitting on the side of the stage.
”That is a lot of hardware,” he said, ”but there’s still some room on that table.”