Real life prematurely ended the Minnesota Linux dynasty.
Real life could prematurely end the semi-record qualifying streak.
On Sunday, Lynx will hold the worst record in the WNBA in a game in Las Vegas against the team with the best record in the league.
Lynx has played so poorly this season that coach and general manager Sheryl Reeve took some relief late Tuesday night after her team played on competitive fire and held together in Seattle’s home loss.
This was a great recognition from a coach who won four WNBA titles and rose to the position of head coach for Team USA. She did not build her career on moral victories.
The Lynx is currently without center Sylvia Fowles, one of the greatest players in basketball history, due to a knee injury. This hurt their hopes, but they were playing poorly even with Fowles performing at a remarkably high level in her final season.
What’s wrong with the once great Lynx?
The answer may be as simple as subtraction.
Their dynasty ended when Maya Moore, the sometimes best player in the world, retired to devote her time to social justice.
Their ability to compete in 2022 was hampered by the pregnancy of superstar Nafisa Collier.
They reached the playoffs in 11 consecutive seasons, the longest active streak in the league and the second longest running streak in WNBA history.
There are two ways to measure player value – how the team performs with them, and how the team performs without them. Collier measures well in both directions.
You may be the only Olympic basketball player who hasn’t been appreciated.
She is also the best Lynx player in her prime.
Collier may become more appreciative in his absence. If it’s that valuable, then perhaps the Lynx’s near future isn’t so hopeless. Perhaps her return will revitalize the franchise that refused stability to rebuild.
“How much do we miss Phee?” Reeve said. “I would say: Very. We miss the person Phee, who she is when she is around us, and what she stands out from others. She has the ability to relate to others in a very natural way.”
“She loves the privilege, she loves the exercise, she loves being Lynx and the responsibility that goes with that, and being a great Lynx player.
“We have some exposed players without Phee. That would be true for any team, when you take out a player of that level. Then everyone gets tasked with doing a little bit more, some people can do it and some people can,” R.
“The game is easy for her. She plays hard. She trusts – she trusts our culture, her teammates – and these things are contagious. This is a very big void, without her.”
In three seasons of the WNBA, Collier won Rookie of the Year, became an All-Star and made the Olympic team.
She could return later in the season, if she recovers from childbirth in time. She is part of Team USA and would like to play in the World Cup in September.
Collier’s return to lead the Lynx into the playoffs would be a great story, but it’s not something to bet on.
“She can’t rush it,” Reeve said. “She had her baby three weeks ago. But she wants to go back to the market and get back to playing. She misses that.
“I know she aspires to be in the World Cup team, and I know she aspires to play with Sylvia Fowles. That will be motivation. And if our team somehow finds its way into the playoff match, she will obviously love to help our team in any way possible. But regardless of whether Playing or not, being around her would be very beneficial to our team culture.