Long ride ends for Minnesota Lynx

Last stop. Everybody off.

The Minnesota Lynx lost last night in the absurd one-game playoff that constitutes the opening round of the WNBA, and it feels like the end of a good book.

The Lynx, who’ve been running with a misfiring cylinder for several weeks, lost to the Los Angeles Sparks 75-to-68. It’s the 21st time the two teams have met in the last three seasons, becoming one of sports’ best rivalries.

But Lindsay Whalen has retired now, and the Lynx have reinforced the message from everyone’s grandmother: “Don’t ever get old.”

Here’s ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk:

While Los Angeles tries to keep its postseason alive in Washington, the Lynx get on a plane heading back to Minnesota with a feeling they haven’t experienced in nearly a decade. An uncertain future awaits. After reaching the championship round in six of the previous seven years, Minnesota is set to rebuild.

“I think it’s clear that we are headed for changes,” Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said. “We are a team that has been together a long, long time, eight years. That means that we are getting to a place where you just can’t keep going, right?”

“… Replacing Lindsay Whalen, obviously that is not going to be easy to do. We have a lot of work to do with our roster.”

On this night in Los Angeles, the Sparks beat the Lynx in another memorable playoff battle. But this rivalry might never be the same. Whalen’s incredible career has ended. And the very best of one of the greatest rivalries in WNBA history might have ended in the process as well.

“All good things come to an end,” Reeve said.

We may never see anything like this team in Minnesota sports again, which is why years from now, many Minnesotans will realize they should’ve been enjoying it more when they had the chance.