The Minnesota Lynx embarked on the “Roar for 4” during the 2015–16 WNBA season and fell just short in heartbreaking fashion. Despite how the last 15 seconds of Game 5 of the WNBA Finals against the Los Angeles Sparks unfolded, the Lynx made waves in the Twin Cities and beyond in 2016.
The Lynx’s work on the hardwood was once again something to behold. Behind more brilliant coaching by Cheryl Reeve, the team managed the league’s best record, the best offensive rating, and the best defensive rating, despite none of the starters averaging more than 30 minutes of playing time per game.
Minnesota’s most decorated professional sports franchise was also showcased on the international stage for Team USA at the Summer Olympics in Rio. Reeve served as an assistant coach on Geno Auriemma’s staff. Seimone Augustus, Sylvia Fowles, Maya Moore, and Lindsay Whalen all played integral roles helping the U.S. women win gold. Their Lynx teammate Anna Cruz helped her native Spain win silver. A lot of Olympic hardware passed through customs on the trip back to the Twin Cities.
As powerful as the Lynx were on the court, they were more powerful off of it. The Minnesota Lynx Foundation has supported breast cancer research and breast cancer programs in Minnesota and continued that support by hosting the inaugural Roar for a Cure event in September. The Minnesota Lynx FastBreak Foundation continued to provide and support hands on programs for Minnesota youth, including Tickets for Kids, Lynx Book Mobile, and camps and clinics throughout the year.
This July in the wake of the shooting of Philando Castile, the Lynx made headlines when the team called for social justice and voiced support for the Black Lives Matter movement. Before a game against Dallas on July 9 at Target Center, the Lynx showed up in warm-up shirts printed with the phrases “Change starts with us” and “Justice & accountability” on the front. The names of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling, the Dallas police shield, and Black Lives Matter were printed on the back. Several players and teams from around the league joined the Lynx in their support of Black Lives Matter, making it one of the most united political statements ever seen in professional sports.
On and off the court, the Lynx gave their fans and their community plenty to be proud of in 2016. The same should be expected in 2017, as the Lynx’s pattern of championships likes to follow odd-ending years (2011, 2013, 2015). The Roar for 4 continues.
Our mission at The Growler is to tell stories that inspire progress in local food, drink, and culture. And in that spirit as part of our 2016 Kind-Of-A-Big-Deal Issue, we felt the need to point out 25 people, ideas, businesses, and organizations who have done necessary, important, and groundbreaking work in 2016. See the rest of our 2016 Trailblazers here.