Seimone Augustus is the Lynx’s OG. Their Original Great.
The first player chosen in the 2006 draft will again in 2019 be the last player the Lynx introduce before games.
Even when Lindsay Whalen was the most popular athlete in the state, Maya Moore ranked among the best players in the world, Sylvia Fowles was an MVP and Rebekkah Brunson the WNBA’s most prolific winner, the Lynx honored Augustus by introducing her last.
“We always felt it was important to recognize what she had done for this organization in that way,” Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said.
Augustus arrived when the Lynx were a failing and fledgling franchise. As they begin training camp on Sunday, she is entering her 14th season, all in Minnesota, having won four titles and established herself as one of the greatest players in league history.
What is more surprising than her excellence is her longevity. A Wooden Award winner at LSU, she was always destined for a productive pro career. What is remarkable about her current status is that she may play on, at 35, without Moore, Whalen or Brunson.
Moore is taking a year off. Whalen retired and is coaching the Gophers. Brunson is recovering from a concussion and has not announced whether she will play this season. Augustus and Fowles, the LSU stars who visited Williams Arena in 2004 to face former Gopher and Lynx player Janel McCarville, will again headline in Minnesota.
Augustus calls herself “old.” She laments having to change every chant and song that she and her fellow champions shared. She admits she plans to retire after the 2020 season.
During a recent conversation, though, she smiled, laughed, described the difficulty of eating healthy in Louisiana — “Dieting is eating 20 shrimp instead of 40” — and vowed to help fill the void created by her friends’ absences.
“We’ve discussed it internally, but this is the first time I’ve put it out there,” she said. “I feel like 2020 is it for me, unless something amazing happens this season. I’m basically year to year at this point.”
And this will be a fascinating year. Augustus, the WNBA Finals MVP when the Lynx won their first title, in 2011, proved she was willing to defer to other stars. Now she may need to lead a young team whose coach, Reeve, doesn’t want to talk about rebuilding.
“This is very weird,” Augustus said. “It’s crazy. The ‘Los Lynx,’ the songs, everything we did together happened so organically for our team. Now Lindsay isn’t here and that’s a chant that we have to take out. I wouldn’t dare want someone to say Lindsay’s part, or Maya’s.
“Now we have to find our own identity, separate from the dynasty that we had. Who is this young team? Who are we going to become? It’s scary for me. I won’t even lie — I had an anxiety attack. I was like, ‘Oh, my God, I have to lead a team, other than just leading by example.’ Now I have to be more verbal. It hasn’t been my strong suit, but it’s going to have to be there for us to become what we want to become.”
Nearing the end, Augustus faces inevitable evaluation of her legacy. Which reminds her of her first season with Reeve in 2010.
“That was actually the first conversation we had when she first got here in 2010,” Augustus said. “It wasn’t about basketball. It was about legacy. I had never thought about it until that point. From 2010 until now, it’s been all about legacy talk, making sure my relationship with the Lynx has always been solid and unified.
“It’s always been that way here, which is amazing, because when you look around the league a lot of players do a lot of moving. It’s really rare for one player to stay with one team for so long.”
Augustus ranks 11th in league history in scoring. With a strong season, she could move into the top seven. She’s contemplating her legacy, and remembering her first years with the team, when teammate Vanessa Hayden grew tired of acting as a chaperone for the star from Louisiana.
“She told me to get lost,” Augustus said. “That was the best way to learn. So I figured out that 394 fed into 94, and I got lost, and found my way. And now Minnesota feels like home.”