When Reeve was hired before the 2010 season, the Lynx had missed the playoffs for five consecutive years. Since their 1999 inaugural season, they had two playoff appearances, never having won a series.
Lackadaisical results equaled dwindling attendance and rumors of relocation. In 2006, the Lynx drew an average attendance under 6,500. They were embodying the worst stereotypes about the business of women’s pro basketball.
Reeve won two W.N.B.A. titles as an assistant under Bill Laimbeer with the Detroit Shock, but all that success could not keep the franchise in Michigan. The Shock relocated to Tulsa, Okla., and are now the Dallas Wings.
The Lynx missed the playoffs again in Reeve’s first year, but an organizational cleansing had begun. Carley Knox, who also worked with the Shock, arrived with Reeve in 2010 and is the Lynx’s director of business operations.
The team fostered new relationships with community groups throughout the Twin Cities, while targeting new audiences. It was not uncommon to see fraternity brothers sitting next to fathers and sons for Games 1 and 2 of the finals in Minnesota.
Players like Whalen, who grew up in Hutchinson, 60 miles west of…