The day before Game 2 of the WNBA Finals, the first question Seimone Augustus was asked was whether her opposition to the marriage amendment on the November ballot would change some votes.
"I would hope so. This is a serious issue," said Augustus, who has often stated her support of gay marriage. She plans to marry her fiancée in May -- after winning her second WNBA title, of course.
For that to happen, the Lynx might need this to happen: Augustus playing like the WNBA Finals MVP, which she was a season ago in leading the Lynx to their first title. The Lynx head into Game 2 of the best-of-five Finals on Wednesday trailing Indiana 1-0 after a rare home loss in the opener, and they will need their best players to play that way. Augustus said she is up to the task.
"I am focused on what needs to be done" on the court, Augustus said.
At the same time, the No. 1 pick overall in the 2006 draft has been tweeting and speaking her mind. Last week her target in a Twitter rant was Roseville police over a traffic stop. This week, Augustus, who is a lesbian, hopes to use her status as a high-profile athlete to change opinions.
"It is time for people to be a little more open-minded about equal rights as far as marriage goes," Augustus said.
Her views on the subject were expressed on ESPN's "Outside the Lines" program in July.
"This is just a follow up, the [vote on the] amendment is coming up next month," Augustus said, referring to a proposed state constitutional change saying only a union of one man and one woman shall be recognized as a marriage. "It is very important for a lot of gay, lesbian and transgender people to be able to love who they want to love and marry and have their forever -- that happiness within."
In her own life, Augustus said, she is at peace. She is happy at home with LaTaya Varner and enjoying the Lynx's success.
Occasionally, the two overlap.
"[Varner] doesn't know much about ball, but she knows about free throws," Augustus said. "She is probably one of my toughest critics next to my dad."
Augustus missed two free throws in a row in the middle of the fourth quarter of the Lynx's 76-70 loss to Indiana on Sunday.
"I had to hear about it that night after the game" from Varner, Augustus said. "All the way to today, I was still hearing about it."
Actually, Augustus played well in that game. She scored a game-high 23 points, but she had only one point in the decisive fourth quarter, when the Lynx were outscored 20-12.
"From me on down to Maya [Moore] and the rest of us, it was a tough fourth quarter," said Augustus, who discarded the neon green sneakers she wore, saying they "messed up our mojo."
Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said Augustus was really good at times Sunday, mostly in the middle of the game.
"To start the game, none of us were in the mode we wanted to be," Reeve said, "and then, when we got to the fourth quarter, none of us were good. We shot 11 percent. We didn't have the persistency to get [Augustus] the ball in good places."
The Fever's two starting guards, Briann January and Erin Phillips, took turns shadowing Augustus.
Indiana coach Lin Dunn said her players did a good job on Augustus and Moore in the first half, "just keeping up with where they were in making it hard for them to get open. In the second half, Augustus started moving around and coming off some different flares and pin-downs and she got loose on us three, four times in a row. She can win the game by herself."
Augustus did that last season in the Finals, averaging almost 25 points per game in a sweep of Atlanta. This season, she is averaging a team-high 20 points in the playoffs and shooting 48.9 percent.
"We definitely need her to come out there and do her thing," Moore said, "and help set the tone."
Reeve said Augustus does not have to win the same prestigious Finals MVP award for the Lynx to repeat as league champions -- but she does need to have MVP-like games.
"If Seimone is not even in the [MVP] conversation," Reeve said, "we've got a big problem."