Veteran Lynx forward Seimone Augustus arrived in Minnesota as the No. 1 overall pick in 2006 and quickly established herself as one of the WNBA’s top players. But team success was slow to follow; the Lynx missed the playoffs in her first five seasons. The story has been much different the past seven years, as the Lynx have established a WNBA dynasty with three titles. As they prepare for their playoff opener Tuesday and a chance at a fourth championship, Augustus chatted with the Star Tribune’s Michael Rand.
Q You’re the longest-tenured member of this team and remember the not-so-great times more than most. Do you think that makes you appreciate this sustained success maybe more than other players on the team?
A Yeah, of course. I went through five years of losing, barely winning 10 games a season. We had three or four coaching changes during that time just to get to Coach [Cheryl] Reeve. And after that, it feels like the rest is history and here we are. But I definitely appreciate these times because of the times I went through, those changes. And I appreciate having great players around me because I remember times when if I didn’t score close to 20 points we wouldn’t be in the game. For me, this means a lot. When everyone else in my position probably would have been looking to go elsewhere to get on a team that’s winning right away, I was patient. Things take time, and I’m glad I did wait.
Q Is it hard to even think back to what it used to be like given how different it’s been for so long?
A From time to time it is. The other day we were right next to Life Time Fitness. People come into this beautiful [practice] facility we’re in now, and they forget we used to practice downstairs in the Life Time gym. When you see things change for the better, you appreciate what you had to go through.
Q As a franchise, what does it mean to have the WNBA All-Star Game coming to Minnesota in 2018?
A It means a lot. Obviously we have a great [run] of successful seasons, and it felt like perfect timing. For our team, it’s always been perfect timing — to acquire players at the right time of their careers, too. For the last seven years, we’ve been the best team in the league. Target Center is being renovated, and we’re going to be able to display a brand-new Target Center.
Q To that end, the Target Center renovations in the short term meant a regular-season move to Xcel Energy Center and now another shift to Williams Arena for the playoffs. Is it strange to go through a season like that, and how do you deal with it?
A We’ve always dealt with things as we needed to, professionally. At any given moment, things can change. One year we had to practice in like six different facilities. But we always find a way to get things done. The rim is the same height and the court is the same size. You still come to work every day.
Q How much time does it take to get used to a new arena?
A A day or two to adjust to the scenery, how far the locker room is from the court, things like that. … And it’s special. [Lindsay] Whalen gets to go back to the court she played on, and hopefully we can win a championship on that floor for her.