INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana Fever coach Lin Dunn’s postgame meeting with her players Wednesday was unlike any season wrap-up speech she had ever given.
Dunn thought she had prepared herself for the moment, but when the players and coaches came together one last time for 2014 following the Fever’s 75-62 home loss to the Chicago Sky in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals, Dunn realized her 42-year coaching career was over.
An emotional scene ensued inside the Fever locker room, with Dunn saying farewell for the final time.
“I wasn’t thinking about it until I got to the locker room,” Dunn said. “It was tough to say goodbye. I knew that some time it was going to come. But I didn’t want to think about it until it happened.”
Dunn’s Hall of Fame coaching career might have come to an end, but her mark on women’s basketball and the Indiana Fever, in particular, will continue to be felt.
She ends her coaching career with 664 college and professional wins, including the WNBA postseason. Dunn’s 23 postseason WNBA wins are good for third all-time. She spent the final 16 years of her coaching career in the WNBA and spent the final 37 years of her career as a head coach.
The Fever have made 10 straight playoff appearances, with Dunn at the helm for the last seven. She guided Indiana to the WNBA Finals twice and won the championship in 2012. She had the Fever one victory away from making the finals against this season.
“She’s always tried to get the best out of all her players,” Fever All-Star forward Tamika Catchings said. “We wanted to send her off on a higher note. She’s meant a lot to this team, a lot to the Fever organization, and a lot to women’s basketball.”
Dunn steps down and will be succeeded by current assistant coach Stephanie White.
White is in her fourth year as a coach with the Fever. She is a Purdue graduate who enjoyed high school, college and pro success in Indiana, including playing with the Fever before retiring from the WNBA in 2004.
And in Dunn’s postgame press conference, she said White will win a title as the Fever coach.
“I’m certainly a person who wants to win championships and looks at goals like (Dunn did),” White said. “The preparation and details are what get you there.”
Dunn said the key moments that will serve as lasting memories will be the success she enjoyed on the sideline, winning a title with the Fever and all the relationships she’s forged with coaches and players through the years. Helping players develop and improve as people is at the top of the list.
But as she walked away from her final press conference Wednesday night, she was confident in the job she had done. But her message to the Fever was that she’d always be just a phone call away.
“I think the future looks very bright,” Dunn said. “I’m excited about Stephanie stepping in and taking over. I feel like I’ve left the franchise in a good place. I wish them the best and I’ll always be in the background if they need me.”