Jace Frederick: Basketball fans fortunate for last dance with Sylvia Fowles

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Jace Frederick: Basketball fans fortunate for last dance with Sylvia Fowles
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Tom Brady’s retirement news leak over the weekend and confirmation in his Instagram post Tuesday were a bit jarring. One of the best to ever play the game is just finished? It doesn’t quite feel right.

Watching Tampa Bay’s remarkable comeback that came up just short in its last-second loss to the Rams in the divisional round would’ve brought such different emotions if you knew the end result meant that was the last time Brady would go under center.

It was a similar feeling after the the Lynx’s 2021 campaign. Minnesota’s disappointing quarterfinal defeat against eventual-champion Chicago took on new meaning later that week, when Sylvia Fowles spoke as though retirement was legitimately on the table as she contemplated motherhood.

The thought of “wait, it might be over?” crosses your mind. That never feels like a fitting conclusion for an icon of the game. One of, if not the, best centers to ever play the game deserves a proper sendoff, filled with flowers and a season that carries a sense of finality.

Thankfully, for basketball fans — particularly those in Minnesota — Fowles will give the Lynx just that. Minnesota officially re-signed Fowles on Tuesday, with the center announcing 2022 will be her final WNBA season.

“I’m back,” Fowles whispered in a video posted on Lynx’s social media.

One of the best to do it is set to hang it up, but only after a swan song.

“Words can’t express what you all mean to me. This will be my final season, and I couldn’t think of a better place to be. You all have watched me blossom into something we call ‘legendary,’” Fowles said. “Minneapolis will forever be home. Thank you all for embracing me with open arms. Thank you all for the love and support and lifelong memories. Can’t wait to see you all back at Target Center.”

The announcement was soon followed by a swath of messages of endearment from fans and teammates. Not only is Fowles one of the best players to ever lace ’em up, she’s also one of the most liked. Her personality is as infectious as her post moves are dominant.

Someone of her stature deserves the same type of farewell tour as she travels from WNBA city to city Kobe Bryant received in his final campaign. One thing better about this tour is unlike that Lakers team, Minnesota is again expected to contend for a title, with Fowles at the forefront of the push.

Fowles was as effective as ever in 2021, averaging 16 points and eight rebounds a game while playing 30 minutes a night for a team that went 22-10. So while the 2022 season gives fans an opportunity to show their appreciation for and say goodbye to one of the best players in the history of women’s basketball, it also provides them with a chance to again witness Fowles at the peak of her powers.

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