Seimone Augustus can still remember watching Rebekkah Brunson play for the now-defunct Sacramento Monarchs. Everybody in the WNBA has a knack for something, Augustus said, and Brunson’s is rebounding. It’s a trait Augustus has long admired, even from afar.
Since 2009, Augustus and her Lynx teammates haven’t had to look beyond their own locker room to see Brunson’s contributions. The Lynx acquired Brunson in a dispersal draft in December of that year. Ever since, the 31-year-old forward has tried to use her vast experience in the WNBA — now almost a decade’s worth — to benefit those around her.
“I come out and try to lead by example, just try and work hard and do things that will enable us to win,” Brunson said. “Hopefully, [my teammates] just follow my lead.”
Now more than ever this season, the Lynx need that sense of direction going into a home matchup with the Tulsa Shock on Friday — which also happens to be the night the first 2,500 fans will receive Brunson bobbleheads. After a 10-game winning streak, the Lynx (17-5) lost back-to-back games last week to the Washington Mystics and the Chicago Sky.
Having a veteran for her players to lean on and learn from is an invaluable treasure during a long season, coach Cheryl Reeve said.
“She brings a blue-collar mentality. When one of your top players is one of your hardest workers, life is wonderful as a coach,” Reeve said. “She only knows one way, which is to go really, really hard and play with a great deal of passion. And that’s contagious.”
After the Lynx’s loss to Chicago on Sunday, Brunson calmly reminded some of her teammates that they’d quickly bounce back. Her attitude, Augustus said, helps the younger players adjust to new experiences.
This season Brunson has paid special attention to Devereaux Peters and Amber Harris, both young forwards. They’ve been affectionately dubbed the “baby Brunsons” because their mentor’s ferocity has rubbed off on them, Augustus said.
One of the Lynx’s four players in the All-Star Game this season, Brunson doesn’t get nearly the attention that Lindsay Whalen, Maya Moore and Augustus receive. That doesn’t seem to faze Brunson. If she can make her presence known on the boards and set screens, Reeve said, the Lynx are usually guaranteed a win.
“She really doesn’t care who gets the spotlight … because she knows what her role is on this team and she knows we appreciate her,” Augustus said. “She goes out and gives us her all every night. It’s a tough job because everybody knows what she can do.”