For the first 14 years of her legendary WNBA career, Seimone Augustus was at the center of the Minnesota Lynx and helped them win four championships while garnering endless accolades. But last year that tenure surprisingly came to a close when Augustus decided to leave the only WNBA team she has played for to join the rival Los Angeles Sparks.
Augustus played one season with the Sparks and was planning to begin her 16th season in the league this summer with the Sparks. But instead, Augustus made the decision to retire from playing right before the start of the regular season, later joining the Los Angeles’ coaching staff as an assistant.
On Saturday, although she wasn’t on the court as a player, Augustus made her return to Target Center in Minneapolis to coach in front of the fans in a city she called home for 14 years. She received recognition along with former teammate and current Lynx assistant coach Rebekkah Brunson.
“This is like Mone’s home,” Sylvia Fowles said. “She’s been here for all of her careers and it’s nothing different other than I’m happy to see her back in Target Center.”
Minnesota also announced that Augustus and Brunson will both have their jerseys retired and hung in the rafters at Target Center during the 2022 WNBA season, joining Lindsay Whalen as the only players in franchise history to have their numbers retired.
“Blasphemy” to See Augustus in L.A.
When Augustus decided to leave the Lynx as a free agent to join the Sparks, it was tough to see the legendary player leave Minnesota, especially to join Los Angeles. Along with that came speculation of what might have gone wrong between her and the Lynx.
For many, it’s still weird to see Augustus as part of the Sparks’ organization, even as an assistant coach.
“It was tough at first, because (Minnesota) is what I always consider as Mone’s home,” Fowles said. “The reason for me coming to Minnesota was to play with Seimone, because we played together at (LSU). It was kind of hurtful on the decision that she made, but at the end of the day, she chose to do what she did and I support her 100%.”
Last year Minnesota faced off against Augustus for the first time since she joined the Sparks, but that game was held at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., rather than in either team’s arena. But on Saturday, Augustus finally returned to Minneapolis for the first time — with the Lynx as bitter rivals.
“Blasphemy. In a word, blasphemy,” Lynx head coach and general manager Cheryl Reeve said with a smirk on her face when asked about Augustus in Los Angeles. “We’ve gone through it for a year, and Seimone actually played against us, and it’s a disgusting look. That’s how I feel about that. Just flat-out blasphemy. … Any Lynx player who plays in an L.A. uniform is blasphemy.”
Fond Memories with Augustus
Augustus’ return to Minnesota brought back many fond memories of No. 33’s time with the Lynx. From Augustus breaking into the league as a No. 1-overall pick out of LSU in 2006, to her quickly becoming the face of the franchise and later leading the Lynx to a total of four WNBA titles, there were many good times to reflect on.
“With Seimone, there are just so many moments,” Reeve said. “I just enjoyed Seimone’s ability to make people laugh. Wherever she was, people were smiling or laughing. Tremendous impersonator of various people and just had the unique ability to bring levity to situations, which was really good for me.
“Some of my favorite moments as a coach with Seimone were poking Seimone to get her to play harder and at a higher level, and getting her cussing and spitting at me. Those are my favorite moments because I knew what was next was so good for our team. I sort of cherish those moments. Then to challenge Seimone to play at a consistently high level, because I knew when we got there with her, it just meant really great things for our team.”
For Fowles, her time with Augustus reaches back to their days together at LSU from 2004-06. Fowles, who joined forces with Augustus once again in 2015 after being traded to the Lynx, recalled the first time she met Augustus and her family in college.
“I came to LSU on my visit and two ladies I went to high school with were also at LSU. They were pretty much my hosts for the time, but me and Seimone had some time to break away,” Fowles said. “That was my first time meeting her parents and stuff at her place. I remember her dad asking me if I wanted some pig lips and chips, and I was like, ‘No, bro.’ I was like, ‘Is this the kind of stuff y’all eat?’ That’s one of my favorite stories because it pretty much sums up Seimone. She’s very country, low key, and she’ll eat anything.”
Although Augustus never thought she would get into coaching, many who have been around her aren’t surprised. Throughout her career, and notably the last few years with the Lynx, Augustus was a teacher and mentor to many players, including Napheesa Collier when she arrived in the WNBA in 2019.
“I absolutely loved being able to learn from her and to be around her everyday. The energy and the personality she brought, even though she wasn’t able to be on the court with us all the time, the leadership was so important,” Collier said. “She was championing for me to be Rookie of the Year since I first got here, so she was my biggest supporter and I really appreciated that. The confidence that she had in me, telling me it was my turn coming up next and to take care of the franchise, it meant so much coming from a player like that.
“I loved playing with Seimone my rookie year. Just the leadership and the personality she brought, and she’s just a legend. To be able to learn under her was amazing and I have nothing but love for her. I love Seimone. It’s kind of cool for her to come back to the Lynx and for us to get to see her again.”
Regardless of how her career ended up playing out or that she is currently with the Sparks, Augustus and the Lynx were finally able to reunite at Target Center on Saturday. For many, it was a way to say thank you to an all-time great for her contributions to Minnesota and the WNBA.
“Mone is the Lynx,” Fowles said. “She’s been here from Day 1, she’s been through the good, bad, and ugly. And just the work that she’s put in. Anytime you think about the Minnesota Lynx, you can pretty much put Mone beside that.”