Rebekkah Brunson is not only one of the most accomplished players in the history of the Minnesota Lynx, a franchise that has had many all-time greats. She is also one of the most decorated players in the WNBA throughout its 26-year history.
In 15 seasons, nine of which came in Minnesota, Brunson officially retired in 2020 and subsequently joined the Lynx coaching staff as an assistant. However, she had not taken the court since the conclusion of the 2018 season.
During her playing career, “The Machine” became the only player in WNBA history to claim five championships, four of which came with the Lynx. She is also the WNBA’s all-time leader in career rebounds (3,356) and offensive rebounds (1,166), ranking sixth in defensive rebounds (2,190) and career double-doubles (82). The five-time All-Star and seven-time All-Defensive Team selection is the WNBA’s all-time leader in postseason wins with 57 and holds franchise records in offensive rebounds (688), defensive rebounds (1,470), and total rebounds (2,158).
In recognition of Brunson’s historic career, she will receive the ultimate honor from the Lynx when she becomes the third player in franchise history to have her jersey and number retired on July 3. Brunson will join fellow Lynx legends Lindsay Whalen and Seimone Augustus as the only players to have their jerseys hung from the Target Center rafters.
“This is a great feeling, individually. You know, this feels really good to kind of have your work pay off,” Brunson told the Star Tribune in 2018. “I feel like I’m the type of player that I don’t necessarily get the shine, the spotlight, the attention, so it feels good to be recognized for something that you feel you contribute all the time.”
Similar to the celebrations of Whalen and Augustus, Brunson’s ceremony will feature a pre-game program with a tribute video highlighting her career and life after basketball. Lynx players and coaches will be wearing special warm-up t-shirts in Brunson’s honor, and fans in attendance will also receive a commemorative poster of Brunson as a souvenir for the occasion.
Before Brunson receives the well-deserved honor of seeing her No. 32 jersey retired, let’s look back on a few of the highlights and moments that stand out from her historic career.
Breaking Into the WNBA
After a dominant career at Georgetown, Brunson became the first Hoya to play in the WNBA when the Sacramento Monarchs selected her 10th overall in the 2004 WNBA Draft.
Although it took a few years for her to announce her dominant presence in the league officially, Brunson became one of the top post players in Sacramento during her six-year tenure there. During that span, she averaged 8.8 points, 6.2 rebounds, and one block in 192 total games.
Sacramento is also where Brunson earned her first All-Star selection and secured her first of five titles. She was part of the 2005 Monarchs team that defeated the Connecticut Sun in the WNBA Finals.
Brunson blossomed in Sacramento. It’s where her historic success began, but it’s certainly not where it ended. The Monarchs folded in 2009, and the WNBA entered Brunson and her teammates into the dispersal draft.
Becoming A Face of the Lynx
In 2010, Brunson found herself with a new home. The Lynx selected her with the second overall pick in the dispersal draft. Brunson joined a team that had failed to reach the postseason the previous five years and was bringing in a new first-time head coach, Cheryl Reeve.
Minnesota hadn’t seen much success until Brunson, Reeve, and others arrived in 2010, but that quickly changed. The start of a dynasty soon followed. After missing the playoffs again in 2010, the Lynx turned things around in a big way starting in 2011. Brunson was one of the key faces and reasons for that turnaround.
Brunson saw some of her most successful seasons over her career over the first four or five years in Minnesota. She ended her nine-year run with the Lynx by taking the floor in 261 games while climbing up multiple franchise leaderboards. In those nine seasons, Brunson averaged 9.4 points, 8.3 rebounds, 1.5 assists, and one steal per game.
Oh, and she helped lead Minnesota to four WNBA titles over that stretch, the first set of championships in franchise history.
It might have initially been an unexpected pairing for Brunson and the Lynx to join forces, but Brunson’s success was endless. She quickly became one of the faces of her second WNBA franchise. Her success bled over to an impressive amount of team success. She secured herself with an all-time accolade that remains to this day, a list that only Brunson occupies.
Adding One to the Thumb
Ahead of the 2017 season, her second-to-last in the WNBA before retiring, Brunson had already notched an impressive career with a decorated resume. But in that 2017 campaign, she added to it and continued to etch her name in league history before ultimately calling it a career.
As an essential part of yet a talented team also headlined by Whalen, Augustus, Maya Moore, and Sylvia Fowles, Brunson was part of a group that made another deep postseason run and appeared in what had become an annual visit to the WNBA Finals. Minnesota defeated the Los Angeles Sparks in five games at the end of that championship series to secure the fourth title in franchise history.
The fourth ring with the Lynx added to the one Brunson already won earlier in her career in Sacramento, bringing the total amount of trophies in her trophy case to five. To this day, Brunson is still the lone player to have won five championships, leaving her name in exclusive territory and sitting atop many statistical categories.
That 2017 championship didn’t solely define the success Brunson saw throughout her career. But adding a ring to the thumb further proves that she is one of the best to ever step on the court.
Life Off The Court
Most athletes are more known by fans for what they accomplish on the court and the achievements and moments recorded throughout their playing career. But for Brunson, she is well-known for her life away from the floor and the work she has been able to do outside of being strictly an athlete.
For starters, Brunson has continued to give back to the game in other aspects in her post-playing career. When she officially announced her retirement from the WNBA in 2020, Brunson joined the Lynx as an assistant coach and has been in that role ever since. When she isn’t in-season and coaching with Minnesota, Brunson is also a television analyst for Bally Sports North, covering Minnesota Timberwolves games with the rest of the Bally Sports North crew.
Then there is Brunson’s life outside of basketball, notably her entrepreneurship and activism away from the sports world. Brunson, her wife Bobbi Jo Lamar Brunson, and their son Graham own a waffle business, “Sweet Troo Vi Waffle,” which specializes in authentic gourmet Liege waffles. Brunson has also been active in the community since she first arrived in Minnesota in 2010. She’s extensively participated in activism, working to advance social justice and LGBTQ+ rights, something that will be spotlighted in her retirement ceremony on July 3.
As impressive as Brunson was on the court and taking control of the game on both ends of the floor, her life and work off the court has been equally as impressive. And that work will continue, regardless of if she is still involved with basketball in the coming years.
Although her career didn’t initially start in Minnesota, it has become home for Brunson. She is undoubtedly one of the greatest Lynx ever to put on the jersey. On July 3, she will join her good friends and fellow teammates Whalen and Augustus next to their four championship banners when she sees her jersey raised atop Target Center and forever placed in the rafters.