PHOENIX — From 1969 to 1977, the Minnesota Vikings played in four Super Bowls. In 1987 and1991, the Twins won two World Series Championships thanks to Hall-of-Famer Kirby Puckett. Lately, it’s the Minnesota Lynx showing the big boys how to get it done.
In the last five years, the Lynx have reached five Western Conference Finals. Sunday here inPhoenix, with the mercury at 101 degrees, they completed a two-game sweep of the WNBA Western Conference Finals, beating defending WNBA Champion Phoenix72-71 to reach the WNBA Finals for the fourth time.
Superstar Maya Moore scored a WNBA and career playoff high 40 points in the Lynx victory. The Lynx now wait for the winner of the Eastern Conference Finals, which is tied at 1-1 between New York and Indiana. If Indiana wins it, the Lynx will have the home-court advantage in the best-of-five WNBA Finals.
Head Coach Cheryl Reeve says the more this team plays the better they will get. The Lynx acquired center Sylvia Fowles during the season in a trade with Chicago and Atlanta.They also traded for reserve guard Anna Cruz from New York and guard Renee Montgomery from Seattle.
The foundation remains solid with Seimone Augustus, who had 14 points in game one; LindsayWhalen; Rebekkah Brunson, who pulled down 19 rebounds in the 67-60 game-one win over Phoenix; and of course Moore, the star of stars. Brunson is now the WNBA’s all-time playoff rebound leader.
This team’s consistency and excellence is a motivating example for all the other teams in town on what winning year after year is all about. They shook up their roster to add a different power dimension to their style. They are more inside-out now. And it’s working.
Augustus and Whalen have been troubled with injuries for big parts of the season. However, they are back now and playing great. The Lynx are a dynasty in pursuit of title number three in five years.
CHICAGO — My kind of town, Chicago is, my kind of town. When you are born and raised in a great city, go away to college and later move to Minneapolis, and go home on a business trip as I did lastweekend, you want to make an impression.
As a child growing up there I loved it, though at times I also hated it, sometimes dodging bullets while at the park playing sports. Threetimes I had a chance to win the Chicago Public League Championship as a football star at Fenger High.
Some of your memories kind of haunt you, like losing my dad my mom and brother. The Cubs broke my heart in 1969 — they were my team. The team’s collapse losing to the New York Mets that year really hurt — the pain, the pain.
The 1985 Super Bowl Champion Bears, the Bulls Michael Jordan, and the six NBA titles and three NHL Stanley Cups by the Blackhawks all stand out. And my favorite: The 2005 World Series Championship, Chicago’s first baseball championship by the White Sox in 100 years, was priceless. I have always wanted, however, to stick it to the Chicago Bears organization for not drafting me out of college.
On Sunday, the Arizona Cardinals, through my son, helped me get a little payback — Cardinals 48, Bears 23. On a busy sports weekend when NASCAR started the Chase, the Cubs home at Wrigley Field, to the first-place St. Louis Cardinals. The PGA Tour Fed EX Cup playoffs also were in town, where red-hot Jason Day won by six shots.
Never in the 96-year history of the NFL had the Bears allowed an opponent so many points at home. Larry Fitzgerald, Jr. had eight catches for 112 yards and three touchdowns. This happened on the same field, Soldier Field, where I once enjoyed success and failure in high school during the playoffs.
The Cardinals are now 2-0 and getting better, and the Bears look as if they are in deep trouble, losing at home the second week in a row. Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer threw four touchdown passes and now has thrown seven in two weeks. In his last 17 starts, Palmer has led the Cardinals to 15 wins.
The Cardinals scored on the game’s opening kickoff. Rookie David Johnson set a Cardinals record with a 108-yard kick return. Bears quarterback Jay Cutler started hot, completing his first eight passes before throwing a 26-yard interception for a touchdown to Tony Jefferson. The Cardinals went on to bury the Bears and are now one of eight teams at 2-0.
The Bears and Cardinals once, a long time ago, shared the same city. The Cardinals moved on to St. Louis in the early 1960s and latermoved to Arizona.
What a spectacular weekend. The weather was great. And what a victory — the big payback.