UNCASVILLE, Conn. – WNBA All-Time Excellent Sylvia Fowles concluded his career on Sunday as Minnesota Lynx fell 90-83 at the Connecticut Sun in their regular season finale, which knocked the Lynx out of the playoffs.
After a roller coaster season in which they spent much of the summer in the bottom two of the standings, the Lynx recovered and managed to put themselves within reach of the playoffs, which they could have done. with victories on Friday against the Seattle Storm and Sunday against the sun.
After Friday’s loss, an emotional day with Fowles’ final home game at Target Center, Minnesota needed a win over Connecticut, along with help from other teams, to extend its season and the Fowles career.
But aside from a valiant fourth-quarter comeback effort in which they shot within four points with three minutes left, the Lynx were never in control, trailing up to 19 points and in double digits most of the time. time.
“It was what you hoped wouldn’t happen,” Lynx general manager/head coach Cheryl Reeve said. “It just wasn’t meant to be.”
With 43 seconds remaining in the game, Fowles came off the floor for the last time of his decorated career to a standing ovation from the Mohegan Sun Arena crowd, embracing every person on the bench, from an extended hug with Reeve to a moment with Lynx trainer Chuck Barta.
But true to form for Fowles – who goes by the name Mama Syl or Sweet Syl league wide – she wasn’t thinking then of the personal implications for her career, but of her teammates.
“I was a little annoyed with myself because I had a s—ty three-quarter and I felt like I did them a disservice,” Fowles said of his exit from the game. . “And so I was just a little frustrated and emotional at the same time.”
“In typical Syl fashion, she just thanked us for being her teammates and supporting her through the season and then the staff and the coaches and all that,” her teammate added. Lindsay Allen, who finished with a career-high 26 points. “She was just so grateful to be able to do that with us this season through the ups and downs and everything the season entailed.”
Fowles wasn’t quite dominant in her last match, with Reeve admitting she was “a mess”, perhaps because she just wanted to do so well. Fowles was limited to three points in the first 30 minutes before finishing with 10 points and 12 boards, but her stacked resume of victory and dominance had been cemented long before Sunday’s disappointing result.
Still, there were reminders of his greatness, even though Fowles’ performance was “s—-ty” by his standards. Fowles managed to record her 193rd career-best double-double in the league and became the first WNBA player to register 4,000 rebounds, which she grabbed in the second quarter.
In enemy territory, Fowles’ status as a beloved character was on full display. The Mohegan Tribe honored her before the whistleblowing with a robe, pajamas and slippers for her impending retirement. Sun players and staff paid tribute to Fowles before and after the tip. In an exchange, Fowles lightly rubbed sun guard Bria Hartley’s injured knee, as if to help heal from her recent ACL tear.
Fowles finished his career with 6,415 points on 59.9% shooting from the field, 4,006 rebounds and 721 blocks in 15 seasons. After arriving in Minnesota in 2015 from Chicago, where she played the first seven seasons of her career, Fowles helped build the Lynx into a dynasty that won four titles in seven years.
She was a two-time Finals MVP as Minnesota won it all in 2015 and 2017, the latter season where she also won league MVP. LSU’s second overall draft pick in 2008, Fowles also won Defensive Player of the Year four times and became the league’s all-time leading rebounder in 2020. On the international stage, she has helped the national team to win four Olympic gold medals. , most recently in Tokyo.
As the only remaining member of those legendary Lynx teams also led by Lindsay Whalen, Maya Moore, Seimone Augustus and Rebekah Brunson, Fowles helped the Lynx extend their playoff streak to 11 seasons (2011-2021).
Now, in 2023, Reeve’s Lynx will be in the WNBA Draft lottery for the first time since 2010.
“Life without her is going to suck. A lot of time,” Reeve said. “She will be a part of my life, there is no doubt, but we will never be able to share the battles, the side eyes she gives me or the suck the teeth she gives me. I will miss her. It will miss me. And I think he might miss me pushing her.
Although the franchise hoped to send Fowles — who announced in February that she would retire at the end of the 2022 season — with another playoff berth, the season went badly from the start. Napheesa Necklace missed all but the final four games due to pregnancy/maternity leave. The backcourt was overhauled just before the season, free agent acquisition Angel McCoughtry agreed to a two-game deal buyout and Nathalie Achonwa (injury) and Damiris Dantas (personal reasons) each missed significant time.
Even Fowles was sidelined for several weeks due to a cartilage injury in her right knee that she suffered in recent months.
“Syl is awfully special, through it all,” Reeve said, choking back tears. “I might have been very resentful if I was Sylvia Fowles. For most of the season I might have been really pissed off as a person. Syl found a way. She just a lot more love in his body than most of us.”
Fowles added: “I learned that this team was going to be different and a bit tougher, so I had to do things that were out of my comfort zone, which I’m glad I got out of my zone. of comfort for that. “. But also just appreciate the love I got from the fans this year. It put things in a different perspective for me. I never had that in my first 14 years of playing and so to see it all come together in my senior year, I’m very grateful.”
The entirety of the moment seemed to hit Fowles at various points on Sunday. As she bowed her head during the Sun’s departure introductions. As she buried her face in a towel after sitting on the bench for the last time. As she ran across the floor, waving to the Mohegan Sun crowd.
Still, Fowles, who plans to become an undertaker with her basketball career behind her, says she’ll have to sift through all the emotions of the day and a historic career.
“I think that’s something I’ll do later,” Fowles said. “I think most of my emotions were just being grateful. The fans were amazing tonight, Connecticut played well, but I also want to be respectful of my teammates’ time.”