See more of the story

This decision was not made with fanfare in mind.

Lynx center Sylvia Fowles and the team's coach and general manager, Cheryl Reeve, talked Wednesday about Fowles' decision to return for a 15th season, and how it will be her last in the WNBA. Talking via Zoom from her Florida home, Fowles made clear what might be the biggest challenge for her this season: the inevitable, leaguewide retirement tour that is about to ensue.

"I actually wanted no part of the 'finality' at all," Fowles said. "When we started talking about me coming back, I tried to express to my agent and to Cheryl how I wanted things to be smooth, without the attention. And they were not going for it."

Why should they?

After what Fowles has done for the Lynx, for the league, for the game? Fowles has four Olympic gold medals, four league defensive player of the year awards, two WNBA championship rings. After what Fowles has done for the Lynx on and off the court? You could practically see Reeve, on the conference call, rubbing her hands together while contemplating all the fanfare about to be unleashed on her poor center.

"There are a lot of plans," Reeve said. "I'll let that unfold. Hopefully as we work with our counterparts around the league, they'll take part in this farewell tour. That's the part Syl is dreading."

But seriously:

The reason Fowles decided to return for a final year — perhaps delaying starting a family, putting her future plans to work in the field of mortuary science on hold — was pretty simple. She wanted to say thank you to the fans, particularly those in Minnesota, whom Fowles has come to love ever since she sat out half the 2015 season to force a trade to the Lynx from Chicago. If she was going to come back, it was only going to be here, and it was for them.

"A lot of it is the fans, making sure they get their appreciation," Fowles said.

Echoing past statements, Reeve talked at length about why Fowles is the best pure center the league has ever seen. The best rebounder, one of the best defenders, one of the most efficient players, physical, dominant in the paint.

The fact Fowles is leaving the game still at or near her best — Fowles joked that Reeve keeps trying to tell her she could play another four, five years — makes it special.

"I'm writing my own ending," Fowles said. "I'm not quite sure what it will look like as of yet. … But I think I'll do a good job. I want to enjoy the moment, go out on a good note, play to the best of my abilities. … I did not want to roll out of this thing on the rims."

It will be the final chapter of a compelling story. How Fowles came to the Lynx in 2015, how she grew as a player and a leader, finally stepping, clearly, to the forefront in 2017, when she was MVP of both the regular season and WNBA finals.

How will it end? Reeve said every move the team is making is to maximize Fowles final season from a competition standpoint. At one point she offered this hope/prediction:

"Syl will be the first to go out winning her last game."

That, of course, would suggest another title run.

"What I want for Syl is for this to be her most enjoyable season ever," Reeve said.

Fowles? She wants what's best for the team. She said she wants to leave the franchise in a good place.

"What I envision is me breaking a few more [records] throughout this league," she said. "For sure having fun is my main focus. It's going to be really emotional. I prepared myself for that. I'm looking forward to it, honestly."

McCoughtry contract official

The Lynx announced the signing of Angel McCoughtry, a five-time All-Star with Atlanta who missed all but one game last season with Las Vegas because of a right knee injury.

The 35-year-old was the first pick in the 2009 WNBA draft and helped the Dream to three league finals and seven postseason appearances. She averaged 14.4 points for Las Vegas in 2020, and has led the league in scoring twice (2012 and 2013).

A 6-1 forward, McCoughtry is a two-time Olympic gold medalist who is set to play for Team USA and Reeve, who coaches the national team, in FIBA World Cup qualifying on Feb. 11-12 in Washington, D.C. Kayla McBride of the Lynx is also on Team USA, and Lynx center Natalie Achonwa and guard Bridget Carleton are on Team Canada.