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The ending to Sweet Syl’s run as a leading lady in the WNBA is straight from a Hollywood script.

Sylvia Fowles, the No. 2 overall draft pick in 2008, is averaging a team-high 14.6 points in her 15th season and eighth in a row with the Minnesota Lynx. She’s pulled down more rebounds per game (9.7) at 36 years old than anyone else in the league, and has the best field-goal percentage (63.4%). 

The 2017 MVP probably would tell you she’s most proud of her team’s uncompromising spirit. 

After a 3-13 start, the Lynx have rattled off 10 wins in their last 17 games. They’re a game back of Phoenix and Atlanta for the final spot in the WNBA playoffs, and hold tiebreakers over each.    

Fowles shared recently that she has mixed feelings heading into her home finale Friday at Target Center against the Storm. On one hand, she wants to play loose, have fun and focus on the postseason hunt. She also wants to reciprocate the respect the franchise and Lynx fans have shown her over the second half of her professional basketball career by putting on a trademark performance. 

That means we can expect a double-double with a couple impact plays on the defensive end. 

“For the most part,” Fowles said, “I’m just looking to have a good time and let my emotions flow.” 

When asked whether there’s an ideal scenario, Fowles smiled and followed a short “hmmm” with a shorter answer: “win.” And, if she had her choice of sealing a victory over Seattle with a game-ending basket or block, she responded swiftly: “block, for sure.” Classic Syl.

As her final ride winds to a close – Minnesota has three regular-season contests left, starting with Wednesday’s all-important clash with the Mercury and wrapping up Sunday vs. the Sun – it’s never been more obvious that the sacrifices Fowles has made since turning pro from LSU have paid off tenfold.

In a retrospective mood Monday, the eight-time All-Star and four-time winner of the Defensive Player of the Year award, revisited what basketball gave her, and her decision this year to retire.

She listed traveling and earning a living doing something she loves as perks of the game.

“It’s also given me a sense of who I am,” said Fowles, pausing, slightly shaking her head in amazement. “It’s not easy being that elite athlete and having to deal with different people and getting different things thrown at you. It makes you grow up real fast and realize who you are.”

What she’s given up isn’t lost on Fowles, either, despite everything she’s gained. Playing year-round for 11 seasons, she said, accentuated missed time with family. A spate of injuries took their toll, too.

“I wouldn’t be here today,” said Fowles, “if I didn’t make those sacrifices.”

Those sacrifices laid the groundwork for a career deserving of Hall of Fame immortality.

To commemorate Fowles’ forthcoming farewell, let’s dig into the statistics that helped forge her legacy.


– Fowles ranks in the top five in league history in these career categories: first in defensive rebounds (2,850), first in total rebounds (3,974), second in offensive rebounds (1,124), third in blocks (718), third in 2-point field goals (2,514), fifth in total field goals (2,515) and fifth in free-throw attempts (1,848).

– Fowles is 10th in career points with 6,376 – doubly impressive when you realize she’s made and attempted just one 3-point shot in 405 regular-season games.

– Fowles’ career field-goal percentage of .5995 is tops all-time in the WNBA – she owns eight of the league’s 25 highest single-season FG% marks, her best being 65.5% (No. 5 all-time) when she won MVP.

– Nobody averaged more rebounds per game over a complete campaign than Fowles did during the 2018 season when she snatched 11.88 boards a contest. In seven different seasons, she’s grabbed double-digit rebounds per game, accounting for seven of the league’s 25 highest rebounding averages.

– Fowles is fifth in WNBA annals with 1.77 blocks per game. Fowles’ highest single-season rejection average – 2.59 in 2010 while playing for the Sky – checks in at No. 15 on the all-time leaderboard.

– Fowles has a career player efficiency rating (PER) of 25.36, which is eighth best in WNBA history. Four women ahead of her are retired – Cynthia Cooper (28.72), Lauren Jackson (27.93), Tamika Catchings (26.06) and Yolanda Griffith (25.39) – and members of the Basketball Hall of Fame. The others are active players – Elena Delle Donne (28.25), Breanna Stewart (26.02) and Liz Cambage (25.63).

– Fowles is sixth all-time in offensive win shares (42.73) – two slots beneath Lynx assistant coach Katie Smith (46.17) and one above Minnesota basketball folk hero Lindsay Whalen (41.54) – and second in defensive win shares with 30.45 and combined win shares with 73.17, trailing only Catchings in each.

– Fowles set a WNBA record with her 157th career double-double in July 2019. She’s since increased that number to 191, including 11 so far in her final season.

– Fowles has reached the 30-point threshold on 10 occasions. She set a career high in scoring Aug. 1, 2010 with 35 points on 14-of-23 shooting for Chicago in a one-point loss to the Mercury.

– Fowles collected a career-high 22 rebounds May 31, 2013 vs. Connecticut. A little more than two months later, she finished with 20+ boards, again, facing the Sun (21 to be exact).

– Fowles holds more than a dozen Lynx franchise records, most notably blocks (342), field-goal percentage (61.2%) and PER (25.8).

– In nine trips to the playoffs (41 games), Fowles has averages of 14.9 points, 10.4 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 1.2 steals and 1.7 blocks. En route to being named Finals MVP in 2017, she averaged 17.8 points, 15.0 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 1.8 steals and 2.4 stuffs in five dates vs. the Sparks.

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