MINNEAPOLIS — After 15 seasons, one of the most decorated players in women's basketball is retiring. Friday night, at Sylvia Fowles' final regular-season home game, the Minnesota Lynx celebrated "Syl's Final Ride." The name pays homage to the WNBA star's love of cycling.
At the game, there were plenty of fan giveaways for each fan, including a t-shirt with artwork of the WNBA star.
“It has not gotten comfortable. As a matter of fact, it’s gotten worse," Fowles said during a video interview this week, reflecting on the season-long attention. "But I will say through the mix of it all, I do appreciate the love and the support that I’ve been getting in every city. It’s definitely fulfilling knowing that you have true fans behind you who’ve been there since day one and that acknowledge the things that you’ve done throughout this league, so that makes you feel good.”
The night was devoted to highlighting Fowles' story, which included not only her athletic accolades but also her leadership and values.
"She is not only a captain and this authentic leader, but she is so accessible and down to earth and kind, and she makes everybody always feel welcome, from a teammate, a coach, a fan that is inspired by her," Knox. "It doesn’t matter who she comes across, she will always make them feel welcome and at home when they are around her. She’s such a special person. To know Syl is to love Syl."
Fowles was acquired in a trade with Chicago, which drafted the Miami native with the second overall pick in 2008 out of LSU. The four-time Olympic gold medalist has four WNBA Defensive Player of the Year awards in in her vast trophy collection, and she was named league MVP in 2017. She also won the 2015 and 2017 WNBA Finals MVP awards while helping the Lynx win their last two of the four titles they won in a seven-year span. Fowles is also the league's career leader in field goal percentage, rebounds and double-doubles.
Fowles has won Defensive Player of the Year multiple times and has also earned WNBA MVP. She's also a four-time Olympic gold medalist.
Fowles moved into third place on the WNBA's all-time blocks list after Minnesota beat Phoenix on Wednesday to take a major step toward extending this final ride by at least a few more days. On Friday, she became Minnesota's all-time career rebounding leader.
Fowles told the Associated Press that she has no desire to stay involved in sports after this. She has nearly completed her degree in mortuary science, only needing to pass the national board exams, and has two funeral industry job offers waiting for her in Florida. That's on hold for now, until the Lynx are done playing.
“I wouldn’t have expected our season to go like this, but at the end of the day, I am grateful to go through these challenges, because I’m also, too, still learning about myself and how I can be better,” Fowles said. “For me, I think it makes it easier, only because I’m leaving on my terms. I think if it was the other way around, if I had to be pushed out the door a little bit, it probably would be hard. But I’m very content with the decision that I’ve made, and I’m happy to look at what life brings after basketball.”
Watch more of Minnesota sports:
Watch the latest sports videos - from high school hockey to the Minnesota Vikings and everything in between - in our YouTube playlist: