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Original Lynx and WNBA great Katie Smith hangs it up

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Katie Smith, a pioneer in women's professional basketball, an original member of the Minnesota Lynx and the WNBA's second all-time scorer, retired Sunday as her New York Liberty lost to the Washington Mystics 70-52.

"Katie Smith has always been a gritty player throughout her illustrious basketball career," is how the Associated Press puts it.

The 39-year-old Smith had seven points and one 3-pointer in her final game, according to the New York Daily News. She finishes her career as the league's second all-time leading scorer with 6,446 points and its leading 3-point shooter with 904 made.

Smith left the game with 36 seconds left to a standing ovation from both the home crowd and a large contingent of New York fans, who chanted “Ka-tie, Ka-tie” in the game’s final moments, reports the Washington Post. Smith spent her 2010 season in Washington when the Mystics last qualified for the postseason.

Kate the Great was the Lynx’s first star player, appearing in 205 games from 1999 to 2005. She is the franchise’s second all-time leading scorer behind Seimone Augustus. In 2001, she averaged 23.1 points per game and scored 46 points against the Los Angeles Sparks in an overtime game. Both are team records, according to the Star Tribune. She scored 30 or more points in a game 10 times for the Lynx.

A 5-11 guard out of Ohio State, Smith joined the WNBA after spending three years with the Columbus Quest in the rival American Basketball League. She led the Quest to two ABL titles while scoring 1,433 points. Add those to her WNBA totals and two championships with the Detroit Shock, according to the Star Tribune, and Smith retires with more points and championships than any other woman who has played professional basketball in the United States.

Bill Laimbeer, her coach and himself an NBA icon, says “She’s an all-time professional.”

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