ATLANTA - The Lynx ranged from being awful to mediocre in Seimone Augustus' first five seasons in Minnesota.
Their record was 63-107, their highest Western Conference finish was a tie for fourth place. They missed the playoffs every season, twice by one victory.
Augustus, a two-time college player of the year at Louisiana State, had her personal troubles, too. She tore the anterior cruciate ligament in her left knee early in the 2009. And last year, the day before training camp opened, she needed abdominal surgery to remove painful fibroids. Her doctors performed a hysterectomy at the same time.
All of that made the Lynx's first league title this season more wondrous for Augustus.
"Any time you have an opportunity to play for a championship, it strikes out all the bad stuff you have ever went through," Augustus said before the WNBA Finals between the Lynx and Atlanta began last week. "You are more appreciative of the journey."
The journey ended Friday with the Lynx beating the Dream on their home court, 73-67. They swept the WNBA Finals 3-0. Augustus was the unanimous choice for the Finals MVP.
"I am just thankful, thankful that everything worked out well," Augustus said. She had 16 points, five rebounds and four assists in the clinching game.
"I was able to recover from the ACL injury and the fibroids. The team stuck with me throughout the years. I was in my contract year, the year I was going through the ACL injury. It was just great to know they were with me. And I was going to fight to do whatever I had to do to help this team get to where we needed to go."
Augustus lost weight, 20 pounds, this past offseason, switched positions from small forward to shooting guard in camp to create a starting spot for rookie Maya Moore, and became a better defender and distributor. Twice she had seven assists in the playoffs as the Lynx went 7-1.
Augustus averaged 24.7 points in the finals, with a high of 36 in the second game.
"She is one of those players that we all feed off of," said Moore, who had 15 points and seven rebounds Friday. "We all want to see Seimone succeed. We all want to play hard for her."
Friday's game became tense late in the fourth quarter when the Dream went on a 7-0 run capped by Iziane Castro Marques' three-pointer. It brought Atlanta within 64-63 with 1:17 left and forced the Lynx to call timeout.
Was Augustus worried?
"No way," she said. "The only thing we said was relax, poise.
"Once we settled down, we started to move the ball around and forced them to make fouls."
The Lynx scored the next five points on free throws and were 9-for-12 at the free-throw line the last 67 seconds. More than enough to hold off the Dream.
"They are just a great basketball team," Atlanta coach Marynell Meadors said. "They have great depth. They have great shooters. They have super rebounders. And they are big and physical and they run the floor pretty well. They have all the pieces that it takes to win something like this."
An hour after the game, Roger Griffith, the Lynx executive vice president, already was being asked about the team's future.
"It's the goal of every team when you win, your goal is to repeat," Griffith said. "We are out to repeat."
Augustus didn't want to look ahead quite yet.
"We'll celebrate the title," she said with a laugh. "That's what is next. We don't focus on next year until it comes around. Right now we are celebrating this championship that we earned and deserved."
There will be a parade for the Lynx down Nicollet Mall at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, followed by a rally at Target Center at 12:15 p.m.