For 14 WNBA seasons, Sylvia Fowles has taken the floor and established herself as one of the best players ever to take the floor in league history. Seven of them have come with the Minnesota Lynx.
In 2022, Lynx and WNBA fans will see her in a Lynx uniform for the final time. Last week, Fowles re-signed with Minnesota for her 15th year and announced this will be her final season.
“It’s such an honor to want to play for an organization like the Lynx,” Fowles said. “It was a no-brainer to choose to come back this year and finish out (my career). A lot of it had to do with the fans and get their appreciation of what I bring to this team.”
Fowles has been a staple with the Lynx ever since arriving in Minnesota in 2015 and winning two titles. She has climbed up many all-time leaderboards throughout her career and has racked up numerous accolades. She quickly became one of the top centers in league history.
But Fowles will take part in a curtain call in the final season of her decorated career this summer. And there’s no doubt a farewell tour will go along with it, deservingly so for the future Hall of Famer.
Top Memories For Fowles
After being drafted with the second overall pick in the 2008 WNBA Draft out of LSU, Fowles spent the first seven years with the Chicago Sky. She received three All-Star selections in Chicago while averaging 15.7 points, 9.8 rebounds, two blocks, and 1.1 steals in 186 games.
But Minnesota is where she accomplished the most in her career. She won a WNBA MVP award in 2017 and two WNBA titles (2015 and 2017), creating some of her fondest memories throughout her playing career.
“My favorite memory is that first championship in 2015,” Fowles said. “It was crazy, just getting there. The ups and downs, the mental and physical distress of just getting somewhere and being happy. And to get there and seeing everything unfold in my favor and have one of the best seasons that I’ve had in a long time and to do it in Minnesota, that would be on the top of my list.”
Entering her final season in 2022, Fowles has played in 192 regular-season games with Minnesota, receiving four All-Star selections while averaging 15.9 points, 9.8 rebounds, 1.6 blocks, 1.5 assists, and 1.3 steals a game. Minnesota is where she’s accomplished the most after quickly becoming one of the faces of the franchise.
“Syl is someone who we have a great appreciation for,” Lynx head coach and general manager Cheryl Reeve said. “When I think about Syl in 2015 and what she endured, for her belief in us as a franchise back in 2015 and what she’s been to us since that time has etched her mark in history in the WNBA, but has etched her in the hearts and minds of all of the Minnesota Lynx fans.
“In 2016 when we didn’t get the championship across the finish line … There was a moment when I said I’ve got this really good basketball player who I’ve failed to feature in a way. I felt like it was time for Syl to become the No. 1 option,” Reeve continued. “We got to 2017, and I committed to saying I would never let it happen again where Syl wasn’t featured. … As a coach, this isn’t that hard when you have Sylvia Fowles.”
Minnesota Becoming Home
Even though she doesn’t permanently live in Minnesota and the Lynx weren’t the first team she played for in her career, Fowles considers the Twin Cities home. The way the fans, the city, and the organization welcomed her back in 2015 is something she won’t ever forget.
“Back in 2015, just getting to Minnesota, the city welcomed me with open arms. They didn’t take no for an answer. They had my back no matter what, they showed me love,” she said. “Those things, you appreciate, and you don’t take for granted. I’ve accomplished so many things throughout my career, but more so in Minnesota. I think this is where I thrive the most, and the love I have for this city and the love that they have for me is unbelievable. I don’t think anyone can take that away. That’s why I call this home.”
People around the league and the players often talk about Lynx fans and their appreciation towards their favorite team. For Fowles, she recognized that immediately upon arrival in Minnesota seven years ago, and that love and gratitude hasn’t let up since.
“The consistency they have, not just with me but with everybody. I think they just appreciate the hard work that you put in,” Fowles said. “They show ways of how they can show love and show their appreciation of you. That’s something that sticks with me to this day, just the love and support that I get from my Minnesota fans and community.”
Fowles wants to help the Lynx organization grow after she retires by making sure players want to be in Minnesota to “experience what the hype is all about.” And even though she won’t be playing beyond 2022, she also wants to remain a part of a community that has given so much to her during her playing career.
“I want to be someone who is always going to be there, even with this being my final season. I will be back,” Fowles said. “I’m not going anywhere, me and Cheryl have already established that and how I can be more active in the community outside of me playing. That’s something that I look forward to.”
For one final time this summer, Lynx and WNBA fans will get to see Fowles wear her Lynx No. 34 jersey as she builds onto her already impressive career and continues to climb all-time leaderboards. And her teammates, coaches, and fans are going to do everything possible to send her out on a high note. They believe that Fowles deserves a third championship at the end of her Hall of Fame career.
“Syl is going to be the first to go out winning her last game,” Reeve said. “That’s going to be emotional in many many ways. Filled with joy and happiness for climbing that mountain top.”