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Sylvia Fowles jersey retirement: Lynx legend helped build ‘a dynasty’

Sylvia Fowles won two WNBA titles with the Minnesota Lynx. (David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images)

Sylvia Fowles will forever be regarded as one of the top players in Minnesota Lynx history. The team made it official Sunday, retiring her No. 34 jersey as part of a celebration of her illustrious career.

The No. 2 pick in the 2008 Draft, Fowles played 15 WNBA seasons: seven with the Chicago Sky and eight with the Minnesota Lynx. She retired in 2022 as the league’s all-time leader in rebounds (3,356) and double-doubles (193). She helped lead the Lynx to the 2015 and 2017 WNBA titles and was named Finals MVP on both occasions.

“What we didn’t know was that we were getting one of the greatest humans of all time. We needed her, and we sure don’t have 2015 and we don’t have 2017 without her,” Lindsay Whalen said of the Lynx trading for Fowles in 2015. “And with that, I think she became the greatest center of all time.”

Whalen played for the Lynx from 2010 until her retirement in 2018 and is a member of the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame.

“I may have done a little dance… I don’t know of a more dominant player who was as sweet as pie,” former Lynx forward Maya Moore said of the trade while referring to Fowles by her nickname, “Sweet Syl.”

“It was a joy playing with you, and the legacy that you leave is a very high one that’s already rubbing off on these players,” Moore continued. “Well done. You should be proud of yourself. Love you.”

Fowles also played a key role for USA Basketball, helping the team to four Olympic gold medals (2008, 2012, 2016, 2021).

Cheryl Reeve coached Fowles with the Lynx and with USA Basketball. The Lynx head coach and general manager knew some of what the team would be getting when trading for Fowles, but not the whole story, she said Sunday.

“I knew the player we were getting,” Reeve said. “I had no idea of the person that Sylvia was. … We do not become a dynasty without Sylvia Fowles’ contributions in 2015 and 2017.”

Fowles became one of two WNBA legends to have her jersey retired Sunday, along with Seattle Storm great Sue Bird.

“It was like this was where I wanted to be. My life changed once I got here. I hit my peak,” Fowles said. “This organization was everything I needed it to be from top to bottom. And then I was coming in with these [teammates] who took nothing less than great. We fight, we fuss, but when we came between these four lines, we battled — and it was [a problem] for other teams.”