Lynx players finished their last stretching routine after their last full practice of the season by throwing ice at each other. Maybe because practicing throwing confetti would seem presumptuous.
They were hardly uptight on Wednesday, in preparation for the final game of the WNBA Finals, Thursday night at Target Center. They have learned to appreciate the march of history as well as the pursuit of it.
So there was Seimone Augustus, the franchise’s first great player of this core group, saying: “We always joke — you’ve never seen the strength of a woman until you’ve banged up against a woman who’s had a child.”
She laughed. The topic was her team’s maturity, which can be cast as a compliment to accomplishment or an insult to their advanced athletic ages.
Rebekkah Brunson is 34. Lindsay Whalen is 34. Augustus is 32. Sylvia Fowles is 31. Maya Moore is 27.
Of the five perpetual champions, only Moore is solidly in her athletic prime, yet here are the Lynx, competing in a fifth Finals in six years, trying to match a league record with four championships.
“We’re not old,” Augustus said. “We’re mature. If you think about it, everything in life that is old is better, like a nice, aged steak. It’s better!
“In this case, we’ve experienced a lot in our basketball careers, a lot of ups and downs, and we’re able to kind of maneuver our way through it. It kind of fuels us.
“When I turned 30 I was asked when I was retiring. I just turned 32. In human life, that’s still really young. In basketball, I’m like 100 years old. My shot is the same, my crossover is the same. You just learn to do more with what you have.”
They’ve accomplished so much together, won so many trophies and medals, yet tonight these perpetual winners can do something unique. They started talking about winning their first consecutive titles when practice started and now they can prove to everyone once and for all that …
Do they really have anything left to prove?
They’ve won enough trophies and individual awards to fill an SUV. Their loss to Indiana in the 2012 Finals still stings but didn’t deter them from winning in 2013 and 2015. In 2014 I asked Augustus whether the end of her group’s championship run was nearing. She rolled her eyes.
Turns out, that was the correct response. Her group won another title, and fueled another Olympic gold medal, and produced another dominant regular season and playoff series this summer.
“Coach always talks about, ‘You can’t defend the title until you get to the Finals,’ ” Augustus said.
“I don’t think people realize how hard it is to get back. To defend the title, to be in a Game 5, thinking about how much more time we have together with the core group. Thinking about how Brunson could win her fifth championship [she won her first with Sacramento in 2005], which would make her the most successful WNBA player of all time. That’s mind-boggling to me.
“Whey [Whalen] and Maya and me could win our fourth. When it’s March and April and we’re all coming back overseas, we’re all calling each other, we’re all on group chat talking to each other, ‘Can’t wait to see you …’
‘‘When we share these moments it means a lot to us, because who knows how long this team will be together?
“The beauty of it is it’s not like the NBA, where some guys leave for money or to be in a better city. This is the place that everybody wants to be because of what we’ve set here, the players that are here, the organization and how they treat us like the queens of the court here, in this beautiful facility that they’ve built so we can be comfortable and be able to do our job and do it well.”
Maybe this will be their last Finals together, or maybe it will be the last until next fall. This group’s greatest accomplishment is making Game 5 of the WNBA Finals at Target Center feel routine.
Jim Souhan’s podcast can be heard at MalePatternPodcasts.com. On Twitter: @SouhanStrib. firstname.lastname@example.org