Many Minnesota Lynx fans were looking forward to June 12, when the the team hosts the Los Angeles Sparks at Target Center. Not only is it entertaining whenever Minnesota and Los Angeles battle, but the first matchup of the year between the two rivals was also supposed to mark the return of a Lynx legend to Target Center for the first time as a member of the Sparks.
Long-time Lynx great Seimone Augustus, who joined Los Angeles as a free agent before last season, was set to play in front of Lynx fans in Target Center for the first time as an opponent. She wasn’t able to a year ago because the entirety of the WNBA schedule played in Florida.
Augustus will still be present in Minneapolis for that game on June 12, but as a coach rather than a player after she announced her retirement from the WNBA before the start of the regular season. Subsequently, Los Angeles announced the future Hall of Famer would be joining head coach Derek Fisher‘s coaching staff as an assistant coach.
“Your body just tells you (when it’s time to retire),” Augustus said. “I know it’s so unexpected it happened when it did. … My spirit was like ‘what are you doing?’ I was constantly having that battle until the day that I decided.
“(Coaching) gave me an opportunity to be around my teammates. It gave me an opportunity to build a foundation and learn. … It’s a great opportunity to continue to be apart of the ecosystem here in the WNBA.”
“I Gave Them Everything”
On Wednesday, Augustus held a retirement press conference with media discussing topics such as when she knew it was time to step away, her coaching and post-playing career aspirations, some of her most memorable career moments and more.
Augustus also spoke about her 14-year career with the Lynx, resulting in the all-time great getting emotional along the way.
“Minnesota knows they have a piece of my heart, they always will,” Augustus said as she fought back tears. “I gave them everything for 14 years that I could give, and I felt that in return. The fans were always amazing and they still are. I got a picture the other day of four or five people who had on my jersey. I thought that was so amazing to witness.”
During her time in Minnesota, the No. 1 pick in the 2006 WNBA Draft went on to put together a legendary career while donning a No. 33 Lynx jersey that will one day be hanging in the rafters of Target Center. In 14 seasons, Augustus recorded four WNBA titles (2011, 2013, 2015, 2017), eight All-Star appearances (2006, 2007, 2001, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017, 2018), six All-WNBA team selections and claimed three Olympic gold medals with USA Basketball (2008, 2012, 2016).
Augustus retires from the WNBA holding the franchise record in total points (5,881), field goals made (2,401), games played (370), games started (365) and minutes played (10,918). She also ranks 10th in WNBA history in scoring (6,005), averaging 15.4 points, 3.1 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game throughout her career.
“I know my decision to leave and how it impacted some people, but for the people that know and respect and love what I’ve done, it’s been amazing to share those moments and those memories with them,” Augustus said. “Obviously I can’t wait to get back to Target Center (on June 12) to allow them and allow myself to have that one big cry fest.”
Augustus’s Top Lynx Moments
When you’ve had the type of career that Augustus has had, one filled with numerous titles and accolades, it’s hard to come up with just a few memorable moments that stand out from 14 years of endless success.
Some of the top moments with the Lynx that Augustus reflects back on came during Minnesota’s dynasty run that began in 2011, ending in the first WNBA championship in franchise history. Most notably, the type of team and the collection of talent the Lynx had that season.
“I just remember looking across the room and I had Lindsay Whalen, Rebekkah Brunson, Maya Moore, and Taj McWilliams-Franklin, and we didn’t know what training camp was going to look like,” Augustus remembers. “When you put those type of great players together, you don’t know if they can sacrifice for one another or if they were going to revert back to being the stars that they were on their respective teams. I remember after the first day of practice and we busted the practice guys’ ass, we were like ‘oh yeah, it’s on.’ We clicked immediately.
“We went on that ride and even when we got to the All-Star break, people did not believe the Lynx were any good. … After we came out of the All-Star break, we hit another level. When we got to the playoffs, that was the first playoffs I’ve ever been to in my career. … I was looking around the room thinking ‘we didn’t just make the playoffs, we might be the champions this year.'”
Not only was that 2011 championship special for Augustus, but that run set the foundation and tone for what would come for the Lynx to this day.
“The support that we had, the swag that we had. All of that happened in 2011,” she said. “Basically our identity was formed in that year and that’s what set the tone for the next seven or eight years. That team will always be, in my opinion, the greatest team in Lynx history because of what we were able to do with the players and the talent that we had.”
Outside of the 2011 title, Augustus has many fond memories both on and off the court. From game-winning shots throughout the years to the Twin Cities area itself and the people within it, Minnesota quickly became home for the Louisiana native.
“Just the fans and the love that we had,” Augustus said of her time in Minnesota. “Whalen had the game-winner on San Antonio (in 2011), Taj had a game-winner on San Antonio (in 2011), Janel McCarville had that between-the-legs pass in 2013, Maya had the game-winner in 2015. I could keep going with different moments from Minnesota. If we’re talking about the city, it’s some of the best food that I’ve had.
“Ultimately, it was the experience. The great people, the melting pot of people, that I had the opportunity to enjoy and the opportunity to share great memories with. That’s what Minnesota ultimately was for me, it was home.”
Augustus gave it all during her career. And although she finished her time in the WNBA with another team before hanging it up for good, the Lynx legend said Minnesota will always hold a special place in her heart.
“In my thank you speech on Instagram (after signing with Los Angeles), I didn’t know that the Mississippi River ran from Louisiana to the heart of Minneapolis until that day,” Augustus said. “It never dawned on me where things in the universe work where I still had a little piece of home right there with me in Minnesota. That’s how I know that was where I was supposed to be at that time and I’m thankful for the time that I shared there.”