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Lynx welcome former rival Odyssey Sims into the fold

October 1, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Sparks guard Odyssey Sims (1) is fouled by Minnesota Lynx guard Lindsay Whalen (13) on a scoring drive during the first half in Game 4 of the WNBA Finals at Staples Center in Los Angeles on Oct. 1, 2017. Gary A. Vasquez / USA TODAY Sports

MINNEAPOLIS -- While she was a late arrival to the drama, Odyssey Sims carved out her own chapter in the now-famed Lynx-Sparks rivalry that helped put the WNBA on the map.

Thanks to Lindsay Whalen.

It was Sims who Whalen fouled hard on a play that was ruled a flagrant-1 foul early in Game 4 of the 2017 WNBA Finals. That foul is credited with shifting the series, as the Lynx went on to steal Game 4 in Los Angeles to bring the series back to Minnesota, where it secured its fourth league title.

The ensuing season’s opener pitted the Lynx against, who else, Los Angeles. That’s when it became clear Whalen and Sims had some residual beef. Heading off the court after a timeout was called, Sims and Whalen tried to walk through, well, each other, which started a shoving match.

Somewhere along the road, Sims and Whalen became the gasoline further fueling the rivalry between the WNBA’s long-time powers. So it seems almost awkward that, in the week following the announcement that Minnesota will hang the jersey of the recently-retired Whalen in the Target Center rafters prior to a Sparks game this summer, the Lynx made another announcement — that Odyssey Sims will indeed be in attendance at that game as expected, but in a Lynx uniform after Minnesota acquired the point guard in a recent trade.

What will be more odd? Seeing Whalen not wearing a Lynx jersey, or seeing Sims in one?

“It will be (weird),” Lynx veteran Rebekkah Brunson admitted at Tuesday’s Timberwolves and Lynx’s event aimed at promoting healthy lifestyles for children.

But not awkward. Not according to Brunson and guard Danielle Robinson, anyway. Neither felt as though any air would need to be cleared between Sims and her new teammates when training camp starts this spring.

“Maybe (between) her and Lindsay,” Robinson joked. “No I’m just playing. No, I don’t know, I don’t think so. I think you come here and you welcome her with open arms. It doesn’t matter where you’re coming from, but I think it’s important that she’s brought in from the beginning and shown the reins .. and we just have a good time.”

Robinson already started that welcoming process. She has texted and spoken with Sims, and said the veteran guard is “excited to be here.” The feeling, apparently, is mutual.

“I’m happy to have her on our team,” Robinson said. “Odyssey is a great player. I think her energy, her passion, her grit, I think that’s the biggest thing she’s going to bring to us is just how hard she plays, how competitive she is. We’re glad to have her on our side, now.”

Brunson called Sims “a competitor,” noting the Lynx always knew they had their hands full when facing her. Brunson said every player who steps on the floor is there to do whatever she can to ensure her team is successful. That, Brunson said, is what Sims did for Los Angeles. The hope is she does something similar in Minnesota.

“It’s a weird dynamic to see her come over to the Lynx side,” said Brunson, who declined to discuss whether she’ll play this season. “But we’re all about what we can do to continue to grow our culture, continue to win and put the right pieces in place so that we can be successful. That’s all it is. She’s a great player, so … welcome.”

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