Seimone Augustus is a sure-lock hall-of-famer one day. Whenever that happens, she will join her former Minnesota Lynx backcourt mate Lindsay Whalen, who will be inducted in September.
“I first met Seimone at USA Basketball. She was 18 or 19, and I was 21,” recalled Whalen of Augustus. She attended Augustus’ number 33 jersey retirement on May 29.
It now hangs alongside Whalen’s number 13. Next month Rebekkah Brunson’s number 32 will join the two as three of the Lynx’s famed “Core 4” in the rafters of the downtown Minneapolis arena, where also hang all four WNBA championship banners.
“We couldn’t do any of that without each other,” admitted Whalen, now the Gophers WBB coach.
Now retired, Augustus is Minnesota’s franchise leader in points, made field goals, games played and games started. She is this area’s first Black female pro superstar and franchise player. She played 15 WNBA seasons after being the league’s overall top pick in 2006, the first female hoopster in Minnesota history to achieve this feat.
“She never got enough credit for being as good a defender that she was,” noted former Lynx assistant coach Jim Petersen on Augustus. “She was egoless. She made room for other players when [they] came…and that was huge.
“She gave up to be able to win championships,” Petersen said of Augustus’ sacrificing her game a bit to accommodate others such as Maya Moore, Brunson and Sylvia Fowles. “She was part of the very lean Lynx years and its gravy years as well.”
Though she finished her career in Los Angeles (2020), “It was great to feel the love of the city,” Augustus told me during a brief media scrum after the pre-game ceremony. “So many great experiences with the city and with fans. Minnesota basically helped me become the woman that I am today.
“I wanted one championship. I wanted one gold medal, and I’m leaving here with a number of championships, a number of all-star opportunities,” she said. Augustus’ honors include three Olympic gold medals, named to the WNBA 20th Anniversary team (2016) and 25th Anniversary team (2021), and a two-time EuroCup MVP (2008, 2009) and 2011 W Finals MVP. Her 33 college number was previously retired at LSU.
On the court, there wasn’t anyone as competitive and focused as Augustus; off the court, she could be the life of the party, said Whalen. “She’s the funniest person, but she’s very, very kind. She’s got a great heart. She is by far the funniest person I’ve ever met.”
Like this columnist, Augustus also is a Taurus, which may partially explain why she and I clicked so well over the years. Her desire to be the best is stubbornly headstrong.
The retired great showed that determination after she tore her left knee ACL early in her pro career, as then-team surgeon Dr. Joel Boyd recalls. “It was unfortunate, but she was able to get back,” he explained. “ACL tears are not that uncommon, but at the same time they can be devastating. You’re out usually about eight months or so.
“She stepped into it and went after her rehab and did a great job,” said Boyd. “She was diligent.”
Now in her second season as a Los Angeles assistant coach, Augustus once said she had no intention to go into coaching after her playing days ended. “I’m settling in,” she told me with characteristic determination as she headed to the visitors’ bench.
Charles Hallman is a contributing reporter and award-winning sports columnist at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.