She took the microphone at midcourt before the game and began to say thank you. The fans beat her to it.
She said she didn’t need to be in the starting lineup. Her coach insisted.
She said she has yet to make any decisions about her future. Her tone demurred.
Seimone Augustus played what might have been her last game at Target Center on Sunday night. If the Lynx can’t secure a home playoff game, Augustus might have said her first goodbyes.
“I’m not trying to think about that at this moment, but it was fun to be out there, and fun to receive the ovation,” Augustus said softly. “We’ll see. We’ll see. I’m actually at peace. Yeah, I’m at peace.”
Her surgically repaired knee has made the 2019 season a slog, but on Sunday, Augustus flashed her old form, producing eight points and four assists in only 16 minutes in the Lynx’s 81-73 victory over Indiana. She provided a career encore, hitting pull-up jumpers, slipping passes to teammates and bridging the franchise’s past and future.
“Seimone and I talk, and right now we’re living in the moment,” Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said. “I went to Seimone and said, ‘I know you say you don’t want to start, but I’m starting you.’ It’s the last home game. Her family was here and our fans — look at our fans, they adore her. The adopted daughter.”
When Lindsay Whalen, the homegrown daughter, announced her retirement last season, she was rightly feted like royalty. Augustus deserves the same affection.
Augustus, 35, has played for the Lynx for 14 seasons. She is one of the greatest basketball players of all time. She was the MVP of the finals when the Lynx won the first of her four rings.
On what could have been billed as Augustus’ night, she spent most of her interview time promoting rookie Napheesa Collier for WNBA Rookie of the Year, an award Augustus won in 2006.
“You never knew what was going to happen at the beginning of the season,” Augustus said. “It’s great to see a great young team of players like this. They work extremely hard. You can see their growth and development throughout the season.
“That’s one thing I wanted to make sure of — that if I was here I was going to help and not hurt the team, in some capacity, in some way, and lead in the right direction. And we’re on the right track. If this is my last season, that’s why I’m at peace with it, because I can see that we’re OK.”
Witnessing what might have been her last home game were members of the U.S. national women’s soccer team, including Megan Rapinoe, who are spending time with the Lynx before their game on Tuesday night at Allianz Field.
“What’s great about them is what they represent,” Augustus said. “Obviously they’ve done an amazing job of competing and going out and being vocal about women, equality, pay, all of these things that we’re currently fighting for in our CBA. So we’re just thankful that they’re being vocal and using their platform, and being here with us and sharing some time and some space with us. And we’ll be with them tomorrow at practice, sharing that as well.
“That’s what it’s about — women empowering women.”
Asked about Augustus’ future, Reeve said, “It’s obvious.” What’s not obvious is exactly how and where Augustus’ career will end, or what will come next.
“I don’t know what the future holds,” Augustus said. “Coaching position? They won’t let me leave. That’s one thing Phee said — ‘You can retire, you can go, but you’ve got to be around here in some way.’ ”
Who could disagree? Augustus wore a Lynx uniform before they were cool. Before Reeve arrived, before Whalen came home, before Maya Moore was drafted, before Sylvia Fowles was acquired.
If Augustus has played her last home game for the Lynx, Tuesday was a nice farewell, but it wasn’t enough. Augustus belongs in the Minnesota pantheon. She deserves her own day.