Many athletes attribute meaning and purpose to the number they wear on their jersey. Some choose a number that represents an important element in their lives or another player they grew up idolizing. Not Lindsay Whalen. She picked her numerals based on a less interesting set of criteria
“I chose number thirteen when I was in 7th grade,” Whalen said many years ago. “I choose 13 because it was the smallest one and I think it was the last one as well.”
While Whalen’s selection may have been lacking in meaning back when she chose it as a teenager living in Hutchinson, MN, it would come to represent the legacy of a Minnesota basketball legend. The Lynx will retire Whalen’s jersey this summer, making her the first player in franchise history to receive the honor.
Whalen retired at the end of the 2018 WNBA season as the league’s all-time wins leader, a four time WNBA champion and the franchise leader in assists.
Minnesota Lynx head coach and GM Cheryl Reeve summed up Whalen’s storybook career well.
“I don’t know you could live a more charmed sporting life than what Lindsay Whalen has been able to experience here in Minnesota. As a youngster here as a high school player, going to your state school the University of Minnesota then coming back here to win championship for the WNBA franchise [she then] transitions into being a college coach at her alma mater … I don’t know that it could have gone any better.”
During the Thursday morning Target Center lobby press conference, Whalen gave us the full “Weezy” experience. First it was her dry humor on display after host Marney Gellner informed the crowd that Whalen was fourth all time in Lynx scoring.
“Shoulda shot more,” Whalen quipped.
Her jersey will go into the rafters on June eighth prior to a game against the Los Angeles Sparks. Ever the competitor, Whalen couldn’t help but enjoy the idea that the ceremony might be a slight distraction for the rival Sparks.
“I just want to mess with LA one more time and throw off their pregame routine,” Whalen said before delivering a message to current Lynx players sitting in the second row.
“Beat Candace (Parker) and Nneka (Ogwumike).”
Finally, Whalen was her typical modest Midwestern self, downplaying her accomplishments and deflecting praise aimed her way towards her former team mates.
“It takes a lot people and hard work and sacrifice from me and everybody because it’s a team sport,” she said. “I wouldn’t have any of these accolades or honors if it wasn’t for all of us sacrificing and working hard together. I just happen to be the first one to retire.”
Number 13 will soon be hanging from the Target Center rafters as a reminder of the legacy of the franchise’s most important player.
Lindsay Whalen: a competitor, a leader, and a Minnesotan.