One of Minnesota’s own has received the call and earned the highest honor in basketball.
Lindsay Whalen, a Hutchinson, Minnesota native and four-time WNBA champion with the Minnesota Lynx, will be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as a member of the Class of 2022, according to The Athletic’s Jon Krawczynski.
The current head coach of the University of Minnesota women’s basketball team retired from the WNBA following the 2018 season as one of the greatest players to ever step foot on a WNBA court. Her legacy in the W was honored this past summer, when she was named to the W25 list, honoring the greatest 25 players in the league history, along with four other Lynx.
Whalen joins the legendary Katie Smith — who is currently the associate head coach of the Lynx — as the only two Lynx players in the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame.
Over her WNBA career, Whalen was selected to five All-Star teams, five All-WNBA teams, and etched her name in the record books of several important categories.
The University of Minnesota legend has won more games in the WNBA (307) than any other player in league history, is third all-time in career assists with 2,345, and holds top 10 marks in free throws made (1,407 — ninth all-time), games played (480 — sixth), win shares (59.8 — seventh).
Where Whalen truly sets herself apart is in her playoff performance. Whalen’s 341 assists are most in WNBA playoff history, while her 953 points rank fifth all-time, and her playoff record of 40-16 (71.4%) with the Lynx speaks for itself. No player in the history of the league has played more playoff basketball than Wheezy, either. Her 82 playoff games played is one more than fellow Lynx, and current Lynx assistant coach, Rebekkah Brunson.
While a member of the Minnesota Lynx, Whalen won four championships (2011, 2013, 2015, and 2017) and was an integral part of stamping the Lynx as one of the greatest dynasties in WNBA history and the franchise as the league-wide standard other teams aspire to reach.
Whalen’s No. 13 jersey hangs in the rafters, right where it belongs, at the Target Center and at Mohegan Sun Arena, where she was a standout player for the Connecticut Sun prior to joining the Lynx in 2010.
In addition to her tremendous accomplishments as a WNBA player, Whalen was named a EuroLeague All-Star in 2008, 2009, and 2010 for her play overseas during the W’s offseason, and won the EuroCup championship in 2013-14 as a member of Dynamo Moscow.
The trusted floor general also took to the court for her country. Whalen was a core member of the 2012 and 2016 United States Olympic teams, which both captured gold medals. Prior to that, she won gold medals at the 2010 and 2014 FIBA World Championship for USA Basketball, and captured golds at the 2002 FIBA U20 World Championship and 2003 FIBA U21 World Championships.
Before Whalen went pro, she but Minnesota basketball on the map. A four-year standout at the University of Minnesota, Whalen helped the Golden Gophers to a 80-43 record over her stellar career. She fueled Minnesota to three NCAA tournaments, culminating with a Sweet 16 appearance in 2003 and the program’s first trip to the Final Four in 2004.
Whalen was the Big Ten Player of the Year in 2002, a three-time All-American, and first-team All-Big Ten in her sophomore, junior and senior years. She held the program’s scoring record with 2,285 for nearly two decades before current Lynx guard Rachel Banham broke it in 2018.
On April 13, 2018, Whalen was introduced as the head coach of her alma mater, a position she still holds.
Later that year, Whalen announced her retirement from professional basketball. This photo says it all. Standing beside the coach she credits as one of her greatest influences, her indelible mark on the franchise she helped Cheryl Reeve build comes in the form of four WNBA championship trophies behind her.
Whalen walked away as one of the game’s greatest players.
She left behind an iconic, homegrown winning legacy that will never, ever be matched, and inspired a generation of young girls and boys who grew up dreaming they could achieve anything on the basketball court.
From the moment the four-time all-state player from Hutchinson stepped on the floor at Williams Arena as a Gopher in 2000, all the way to her walking off that raised floor for the final time as player a four-time WNBA champion in 2017, and everywhere in between, Lindsay Whalen has taken Minnesota on the basketball ride of a lifetime.
That ride now includes a stop in Springfield, Massachusetts at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, an honor Whalen so richly deserves.
We’re all witnesses to the greatest athlete in the history of this proud state.
For giving us Minnesota kids the opportunity to grow up knowing what it’s like to look up to homegrown greatness, thank you, Whay. The game is forever changed.
Congratulations, Hall of Famer!
(This story will be updated as more information is made available).