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Lindsay Whalen started thinking about the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame late in her professional playing career. After she and the Lynx had won two or three of their four titles. After she had won an Olympic gold medal.

"You start to think it's pretty cool watching the players go in, watching the speeches, everything," she said Wednesday.

Whalen, the six-time WNBA All-Star, three-time all-WNBA first teamer, owner of four WNBA title rings and two Olympic golds, is now coaching the Gophers women's basketball team.

In that role she was focused on prepping for Thursday's game against Drake in Des Moines. With the season in full swing, Whalen found it hard to look back. But it's not every day that you're a first-time nominee to the Hall of Fame.

"Later on in my career, it became more of a goal," she said. "More of a, I think, realistic goal. … Yeah. I'd better get in."

(She was joking.)

Whalen said a lot of people have reached out, including her Lynx teammates. She thanked her parents and her husband, Ben Greve, and her coaches at Minnesota and in the WNBA, where she played for Mike Thibault at Connecticut and Lynx coach/GM Cheryl Reeve. She thanked Olympic coach Geno Auriemma.

The finalists for the 2022 class will be announced during the NBA All-Star Game in Cleveland on Feb. 20. The induction class will be announced in April.

The affect Whalen has had on basketball in Minnesota is immense. But as a person who is usually focused ahead, not looking back, she said she wants to continue having an impact as a coach.

"I hope I continue it as a coach now," she said. "That's my goal, my hope, that I continue to make our state proud, make the university proud. Now that is my focus. My playing career was a lot of fun. But it's these players' time now. It's our team's time."