Lynx Celebrate Homecoming With Fans

Mark Remme
Wolves Editor/Writer

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Lindsay Whalen has been through this once before, so it’s not like the experience of returning to Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport—WNBA championship trophy on board—was something completely new to her and the rest of the holdovers from the Lynx’s 2011 title run. But on top of that, Whalen had a sneaking suspicion Friday afternoon’s return to Minnesota would be greeted with great fanfare.

After all, the Lynx experienced that feeling all summer at Target Center.

“You kind of knew we’d have a pretty great reception tonight just because our fans are the best,” Whalen said.

The reception was, indeed, overwhelming for the Lynx—a team that has won two of the past three WNBA titles. A group of fans about 300 strong wearing blue and green gathered at Terminal 2 on Friday well before the team’s plane arrived around 5:20 p.m. They stood facing the stairway where the Lynx would eventually appear, waiting patiently for the champs to arrive carrying that silver championship trophy.

[Photos: CLICK HERE for David Sherman’s gallery from the Lynx’s return home]

Before the team appeared, there were Lynx chants staring from one fan and growing into a full crowd affair. Fans brought signs, posters, photos and memorabilia in hopes of getting to interact with their favorite players and coaches.

When the team appeared, led by Monica Wright and followed closely by Maya Moore and Seimone Augustus—who was carrying the hardware—the crowd exploded. That noise level maintained through much of the time the team was present talking with the media, greeting fans and signing autographs.

It means a lot, especially for Augustus. She’s been with this team since 2006, and when she sees the way this fanbase endured some of the tough times in order to reap the benefits of this recent run of success, it makes her appreciate all the hard work the team put in to make this happen.

“These are loyal fans that have been around for 15 years,” Augustus said. “They’ve been through the worst of the worst, and now they’re here to celebrate the happy moments. We’re proud to be part of that.”

It’s her second time around with this type of celebration, and Augustus said slowing down wasn’t on her radar. The plan is to keep the party going.

“The feeling that we have, the hard work that we had to do this entire season to get to this point, it’s just like relief,” Augustus said. “You just let it all go. Everything paid off. All that hard work paid off.”

Moore, the 2013 Finals MVP, looked fully engaged in the moment. She’s won championships in high school and in college, she’s won in international leagues and she won a Gold Medal with Team USA in 2012. This is her second WNBA crown. Still, the appreciation for this type of event looked just as fresh and new as it probably did the first time she participated in one.

That’s the key with this team: The 2013 Lynx understood even with the talent they possessed and the leadership they have at the top, they couldn’t take anything for granted. Nothing would be handed to them—they needed to work every day to achieve this goal.

In the end, they did it.

“To be able to fight and battle and to rise above some of our tough times this season, to be able to finish in such a dominating, strong way, and make a statement as to who we are as a team and what we can do and what we can become just feels awesome,” Moore said. “I’m just so happy to be able to celebrate it now.”

The celebration didn’t end on Friday. Minnesota will hold a championship parade on Monday. The parade will begin at 11:30 a.m. at 12th Street and Nicollet Avenue and will run down Nicollet Mall, hang a left at 7th Street and lead into the backstage area of Target Center. The championship celebration will begin at 12:30 p.m. Lynx owner Glen Taylor will address the crowd followed by Lynx players and coaches. Lynx Radio play-by-play voice Alan Horton will emcee the event, and Fox Sports North will carry the parade and celebration live.

Whalen said she’s planning to ride with Augustus in one of the convertibles, and the two are planning to have candy on hand to share with fans.

“I’m going to hit up, you know, Target, Walgreens, something like that—make sure everybody’s having fun and enjoying themselves,” Whalen said. “It about Halloween, it’s a little early, but it will be kind of like Trick-or-Treating slash parading…when we drive by, look for us to send out the candy.”

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