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Lynx make last stand with Obama

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Lindsay Whalen joked she was trying to pass some legislation while the Lynx were in Washington, D.C., on Monday afternoon. The bill would include more years for President Barack Obama and a couple more White House trips for Mi...

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U.S. President Barack Obama poses during an event to honor the 2015 WNBA champions Minnesota Lynx Monday at the East Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., June 27, 2016. (Photo by Carlos Barria / Reuters)

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Lindsay Whalen joked she was trying to pass some legislation while the Lynx were in Washington, D.C., on Monday afternoon.

The bill would include more years for President Barack Obama and a couple more White House trips for Minnesota.

Deal?

Obama said the Lynx would have to clear it with first lady Michelle Obama.

Monday marked the Lynx’s third trip to the White House in five years, with each visit commemorating a new championship run. It will be their last trip with President Obama in the White House, whose second term ends in January.

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“It’s been a good run,” Whalen said. “We’ve had a good partnership.”

“I think it’s fair to say this team is a powerhouse,” Obama said.

Before his speech on Monday, Obama gave Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve’s son Oliver - who was crying as he entered the room - a high five.

During the speech, Obama mentioned the Lynx’s strong start to the 2016 season - with a 13-2 mark that featured a WNBA record 13 consecutive victories to open the campaign - adding it’s clear title runs and White House visits haven’t grown old for Minnesota.

He also took a moment to recognize two Minnesota icons who died in the past year: Prince - an avid Lynx fan who hosted a private party for the team following its most recent title, and Flip Saunders, the Timberwolves’ coach and president of basketball operations.

“On behalf of all basketball fans, this day, too, is for Flip,” Obama said.

Then Obama shifted his attention to the WNBA’s 20th anniversary. He spoke of the three current Lynx players - Seimone Augustus, Maya Moore and Whalen - who were recently named three of the WNBA’s greatest 20 players of all time.

“Seems like you all should have had more than three,” he joked.

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Obama mentioned the league’s roots, saying 20 years ago the current Lynx stars could finally turn on the television and witness role models such as Lisa Leslie and Sheryl Swoopes. Now, Minnesota’s premier players are those role models, specifically calling out the Lynx’s various charitable acts both on and off the court.

“Today these women and women across the WNBA are setting their own example for girls that are growing up today,” Obama said. “As Maya says, We’re not super rich like the guys, but money is not everything when you’re talking about dynasties and legacies and inspiring young women and men and opening people’s minds.”

But?

“Money is useful, too, and I am for equal pay for equal work,” Obama said to a large ovation.

Whalen, who has been Minnesota’s starting point guard on each of the three championship teams, provided Minnesota’s remarks at Monday’s ceremony. Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve did the honors in 2012, while forward Maya Moore spoke in 2014.

Whalen opened with a touch of humor after being introduced to the podium by Obama.

“Thank you, Mr. President,” Whalen said as she approached the microphone. “I’ve always wanted to say that.”

She closed her remarks with an invite. This would be the last time Obama and the Lynx would meet at the White House, but President Obama would be welcomed at Target Center anytime.

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“The invitation definitely stands for you to come to our house,” Whalen said. “I know some people that we can get you some seats.”

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