One of the stranger ancillary benefits of winning a championship in America in various sports, whether that is the NFL, NBA, or the WNBA, is that the winning team takes a trip to the White House to meet the President for a meet and greet, complete with a photoshoot session. Yesterday, the Minnesota Lynx took their third trip to the White House in the last five years, celebrating their championship win last year over the Indiana Fever.
President Obama congratulated the team on its victory, as well as Head Coach Cheryl Reeve, and commented on how the team serves as a stellar example for young athletes around the nation. He also specifically mentioned Flip Saunders and how proud he would have been of the Lynx's continued success in Minnesotan basketball.
I can't imagine I am equipped to speak more eloquently on the event than President Obama, so I will let the end of his speech speak for itself:
"These women are not just all-star basketball players, they're also leaders in the Minneapolis community. They host an annual Breast Health Awareness game in partnership with the Mayo Clinic. They made holiday cards for children of military members, teamed up with the Twin Cities Boys and Girls Club to help prepare meals for kids who would otherwise go hungry. And the team signed honorary contracts with young boys and girls who are facing big challenges, but dream of playing basketball. For a day, those young people were Lynx teammates -- and that, as much as any trophy, is what makes these women champions.
So on the 20th anniversary of the WNBA, this is a good moment to celebrate all that these players and the many others who came before have accomplished. Twenty years ago, Maya, Seimone, and Lindsay were playing H-O-R-S-E in their driveway. And suddenly, they saw players like Lisa Leslie and Sheryl Swoopes and Sue Bird to look up to as role models. And there's no discounting how important that is. Today, these women, and women across the WNBA, are setting their own outstanding example for girls who are growing up today.
And they're aware of the responsibilities that come with that. As Maya says, "We're not super rich like the guys...but money's not everything when you're talking about dynasties and legacies, and inspiring young women and men, and opening people's minds." Although, money is useful, too. And I am for equal pay for equal work.
With that, I know Lindsay would like to say a few more words. Let's give a big White House congratulations once again to the Minnesota Lynx, 2015 WMBA Champions."
In a decidedly less inflammatory tweet for the Timberwolves fan, Woj has reported that the Wolves are declining the team option of Damjan Rudez. Rudez had a team option of a little over $1.1 million, but it is unlikely the decision was made in regards to the salary but rather for the open roster spot. Last year, the Wolves traded Chase Budinger for Rudez, who was on the Pacers at the time.
Rudez had a hard time getting off the end of the bench throughout the entire year, as he averaged just 8.4 minutes per game. He was the "three-point specialist" on a team that was almost completely devoid of the skill, so his inability of maintaining a steady role in the line-up made this roster decision somewhat predictable. Hopefully, Rudez will find another home in the NBA, as he was always a willing contributor and fulfilled his deep bench role with enthusiasm. His constant stretching routines will be missed.
The Timberwolves also made the headlines yesterday in a story that may hold more importance for the future of the Timberwolves, as Glen Taylor sold several minority shares of the team. Particularly notable was the shares that were sold to Lizhang Jiang, who will be the first Chinese minority owner in the NBA. Brian Windhorst wrote up an informative article detailing the news. Last season, Glen Taylar had planned on selling a minority stake of the team to Steve Kaplan, a current minority owner of the Memphis Grizzlies, with the understanding the Kaplan and his ownership group would take control of the Timberwolves in the next few years. This deal fell through due to various external factors, primarily difficulties that Kaplan had in relinquishing his Grizzlies shares, and Taylor had made a few public comments that indicate he is not planning on selling a majority stake in the near future.
This recent sale does not provide us with any information that would make it seem that Taylor has changed his plans in any way, but we may be able to glean a better idea on his future plans when the sales are formally announced.