Our Turn: Lynx show off with All-Star showcase
Last week, I wrote that Minnesota was the perfect fit to host this year's WNBA All-Star Weekend. But after an up-close-and-personal experience July 27-28 while covering it for the site Women's Hoops World, I realized that I need to amend my claim.
Minnesota didn't just know how to host. It knew how to throw a party.
The Target Center filled with 15,922 fans to witness the league's biggest stars all meeting on Minnesota hardwood for the first time. They cheered on four Lynx favorites — Maya Moore, Sylvia Fowles, Seimone Augustus and Rebekkah Brunson — with other WNBA legends mixed among them.
And it was a show.
Flash and finesse took over on the court, of course, with the likes of Sue Bird and Chelsea Gray showing off through clever ball handling and smooth, no-look dimes. But the building was bursting with energy, too, never more apparent than when Liz Cambage dunked in the final seconds or when Moore hoisted the MVP trophy minutes later.
"With the people that we have here that work so hard to do their jobs great, I think it's been an excellent All-Star (Weekend)," Moore said. "Definitely my favorite of the All-Stars that I've been a part of. I'm really proud that it's gone off so well."
In the All-Star Weekend's 15th edition, 2018 marked Minnesota's first chance to host. Seattle had the same opportunity in 2017, as well, helping expand the reach past the habitual Connecticut and New York stops.
"It's awesome to see the league expanding the All-Star Game to cities all over," Seattle's Breanna Stewart said. "And I think it's going to continue. We're going to, hopefully, make our rounds and be able to enjoy every one of the 12 cities that we play in."
That expansion includes visiting Las Vegas in 2019, allowing the WNBA's newest team a chance to host.
"It's a huge help just because you're bringing an All-Star Game and an event to a city where they might not have had an opportunity before," Stewart said. "People who have never come to a game might come to this one, and then they might come back."
So, back to Minnesota. It should be no surprise that its enthusiastic fan base showed up and showed out for — at least for now — a once-in-a-lifetime party.
"Over the last seven seasons, we've been making history and playing really, really fun basketball with a special group of people," Moore said of the Lynx's four championships since 2011. "The people of the Twin Cities area and all over the state and region have celebrated that.
"I've really appreciated the response of Minnesota to everything that we're putting out there on the court. I try not to take a day for granted that people are admiring what we're doing and showing up and supporting it."
Bird, who helped invite the All-Stars to Seattle last season, said it's always special to host. But being a guest in Minneapolis wasn't too bad, either.
"The city has done a great job of making us feel special, making us feel like All-Stars ... with a Minnesota bend on it. They're showing off their city, but they're also showing it as a tribute to their city and what the city's all about."
None of this should come as a surprise, if you ask me. Haven't you heard of Minnesota Nice?
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"It's Our Turn" is a weekly column that rotates among members of the Echo Press editorial staff.