Jim Souhan
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The Lynx made only one mistake while retiring Sylvia Fowles' jersey on Sunday night. They held the ceremony at midcourt.

As her No. 34 was raised to the Target Center rafters, Fowles, the leading rebounder in WNBA history, should have been hanging out in the paint.

On the same weekend they celebrated their 25th anniversary and welcomed back their greatest players, Fowles on Sunday night put the center in center stage.

Lynx assistant coach Rebekkah Brunson noted that she played against and with Fowles, and coached her.

"First, I want to get this out of the way," said Brunson, who ranks fourth in league history in rebounds. "You stole a lot of rebounds from me. I would have been a lot higher on the list if not for Syl."

Brunson was joking about that. She wasn't joking when she pointed out that Fowles, in her first training camp of retirement, came to Minnesota to work with current Lynx star Napheesa Collier, who was recovering from childbirth. "Who does that?" Brunson said. "Sylvia Fowles does that."

Lindsay Whalen said that when Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve told the team they were trading for Fowles in 2015, "what we didn't know was that we were getting one of the greatest humans of all time. We needed her. We sure don't have (titles in) 2015 and 2017 without her. In that time, she became the greatest center of all time."

Maya Moore referred to her by her nickname, "Sweet Syl," and said that when she heard the Lynx were trading for Fowles, "I may have done a little dance…I don't know of a more dominant player who was as sweet at pie."

Seimone Augustus teamed with Fowles at LSU, in international play for Team USA and with the Lynx, and was instrumental in luring her to Minnesota. "Syl is the best evolution of a player and a human being that I've ever been able to witness," she said.

Reeve noted that the Lynx won their first home game of the season with Fowles in the building, following their 91-86 triumph over traditional rival Los Angeles. "I knew the player we were getting," Reeve said. "I had no idea of the person that Sylvia was. … We do not become a dynasty without Sylvia Fowles' contributions in 2015 and 2017."

Reeve and the players recounted memories of Fowles' eccentricities and generosity. Augustus called her "grandma-ish," because she knits and crochets, and even recently made a hat for a new Lynx employee. Reeve said she's run into people who had just received the gift of shoes from Fowles after meeting her.

Fowles was the last to speak at the ceremony, thanking everyone from owner Glen Taylor to the fans, who rose to cheer.

She said she considered retiring in 2014 while recovering from an injury, but persevered in part because of the possibility of playing in Minnesota. A dinner in China with Moore sparked her interest, which was stoked by further talks with Augustus.

"It was like this was where I wanted to be," Fowles said. "My life changed once I got here. I hit my peak. This organization was everything I needed it to be."

Throughout the night, Fowles drew cheers as she moved about the arena. Reeve thought there should have been more there to cheer. The announced attendance was 8,025.

"I don't know that we're going to have 15,000 here tonight," Reeve said before the game, later adding, "You don't see jerseys being retired very often. So it's pretty incredible."

The Lynx have made jersey retirements something of a habit. Fowles' joined those of Augustus, Brunson and Whalen in the rafters, along with the championship banners they combined to win.

As they spoke on Sunday night at yet another ceremony honoring them, what again resonated was their mutual affection.

Fowles will be going into the Hall of Fame. Whalen is already in. Augustus and Brunson should join them, along with, eventually, Reeve, and at each ceremony, they can expect Fowles to knit them something nice.