“They wanted to take their place next to the Houston Comets. I know that.” – Cheryl Reeve

Photo Credit: Jean Pieri/St. Paul Pioneer Press

The Minnesota Lynx did just that.

Prior to the start of the playoffs, Lynx head coach Cheryl Reeve expressed frustration that her team would be playing at Williams Arena instead of the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, where the NHL’s Minnesota Wild were set to begin its regular season.

Instead, the Lynx made the most out of unenviable situation, including a $1 million investment in air conditioning for The Barn so it can be up to WNBA playing standards – and it has culminated in the franchise’s fourth title in league history.

I know they wanted this. They wanted to take their place next to the Houston Comets. I know that. They wanted that last year. And so they did it. So now they have four.

–Lynx head coach Cheryl Reeve

Maya Moore, who scored 18 points in this year’s Game 5 also reflected on the significance of the victory given her longtime WNBA fandom and how she grew up watching those great Comets teams led by Sheryl Swoopes and Cynthia Cooper.

You know, as a longtime WNBA fan since I was eight years old, I’ve been die hard, watching the Comets, some classic battles, New York, then Detroit had their run, watching the Storm, and then I get a chance to be part of just an unbelievable group of players over these last few years.

Reeve also talked about how much of this became possible because Lynx management stepped up and made the most out of a scenario that saw the Twin Cities’ two primary basketball-ready stadia unavailable for the postseason.

I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about Glen Taylor, Glen and Becky Taylor, who made sure that we stayed in the Twin Cities for these Finals because it wasn’t looking good for a while there, where we were going to play, and for them to step up and for our business staff – to pick up an operation and move it over here, for the University of Minnesota to share their facility with us, that’s teamwork.

–Cheryl Reeve

Teamwork, of course, was not only exhibited by the Lynx and Golden Gophers’ brass, but also by the Lynx’s players themselves – who Reeve admitted wanted to get to where the Comets got to with four rings.

If I didn’t do anything else, I just wanted to make it my business to make sure I just go out there and rebound, and that was my downfall last year. Like I said, I fell on the court, that haunted me for a long time after Game 5 last year. I just wanted to come in and I wanted to show my presence, and if that was rebounding, then rebounding it was.

–Sylvia Fowles

She did plenty of rebounding throughout the series, especially in Game 5 as she hauled in a Finals-record 20 boards and Finals MVP honors.

But at the end of the day, there’s nothing like seeing the transformation of a player like Sylvia Fowles, and she’s the reason why we won a championship.

–Cheryl Reeve

Syl was the MVP. She was the MVP for the regular season so it’s only right that she finishes off the season the way she did with a monster effort in this game and being able to pull off the Finals MVP.

–Seimone Augustus

Fowles mentioned Game 5 – one may think that when the Sparks made that late run to cut what was a 12-point lead to a three-point lead that shades of last year’s Game 5 may be creeping in for the Lynx. According to head coach Cheryl Reeve that was not the case.

I don’t think Game 5 was on their minds at all. I think what was on their minds was, you know what, Coach has put us in these situations at practice, and we did the same damn thing at practice, we turned the darn thing over. And we said, we were in that time out, you can’t retreat against pressure.

The Lynx faced that pressure head on, and when it appeared the Sparks were on their way to dealing the Lynx another heartbreaking finish, Minnesota knew exactly who to turn to.

At a certain point, players make plays and Maya made that runner at the free-throw line, which is why she’s Maya Moore, which is also why we like her on our team.

–Lindsay Whalen

Another reason why the Lynx were able to pull off number four was Lindsay Whalen, who was returning to the very same venue where she played her collegiate basketball. Whalen scored 17 points in concluding her homecoming to the University of Minnesota.

I knew that when Mr. Taylor made the decision and the commitment to us to make sure that we have air-conditioning and everything here, I knew it was going to be special for us.

The venue not only provided added meaning to Whalen, but also added to the overall atmosphere for the game. Moore talked about how the energy of the fans gave it a very collegiate-like feel.

The gray, matching our uniforms, that was sweet. It’s just deafening out there. It’s so loud. Whenever we did something great, even to start the game, you could just feel the energy in it.

One must not forget how the fourth championship for the Lynx is also the fifth championship in Rebekkah Brunson’s playing career.

Brunson – along with her four Minnesota rings won a championship in 2005 when she played for the Sacramento Monarchs.

I think it feels better because I get to share it with this amazing team. These amazing players. This amazing coaching staff. This amazing organization. I mean everybody in here deserves everything that we get.

–Rebekkah Brunson

I told her we’re going to start working on the other hand.

–Cheryl Reeve

…as well as it being the first title in the career of Jia Perkins, who was in the same 2004 Draft class as Brunson.

You put in all the work throughout your years as playing. Competing at the highest level, it was good for me to come in this environment and compete with these girls. They’re showing me how to be a champion.

–Jia Perkins

They are showing Perkins how to be a champion in an organization that exudes championship culture in a city that has become a major epicenter of women’s basketball. The Lynx will return to a renovated and refurbished Target Center starting next season, are debuting a new logo as part of a rebranding effort with the Minnesota Timberwolves and NBA G-League’s Iowa Wolves, and will host the 2018 All-Star Game at Target Center.

It is more than safe to say that women’s basketball is more than alive and well in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

I just can’t even impart to you how special this group is, and I hope that you call continue to bestow your adulation upon them, because this is incredible times in Minnesota sports history, and obviously in WNBA history.

–Cheryl Reeve

By: Akiem Bailum (@AkiemBailum on Twitter, Instagram)