Even in retirement, Seimone Augustus still gets emotional when talking about the Minnesota Lynx.
Augustus spent 14 years with the organization, one that drafted her No. 1 overall out of LSU in the 2006 WNBA Draft. During her time in Minnesota, she earned seven WNBA All-Star selections, became the franchise’s all-time leader in points scored and minutes placed, won three Olympic Gold Medals, four WNBA titles and was named 2006 Rookie of the Year and 2011 Finals MVP, to name just a few accolades.
But Augustus’ time in Minnesota — a place that has become her second home — didn’t end as she pictured it would while she was still wearing a Lynx uniform. And that’s something you can tell still hits her deep when she talks about it to this day.
“It was very hard. It wasn’t an easy decision,” Augustus said emotionally on the Hitting the Hardwood Podcast with Mitchell Hansen. “It’s still kind of a sore spot. You spent that much time and you’ve done so many amazing things. Your heart is invested in it. I guess I kind of got blindsided by the business aspect of it. There’s always going to be love there, there’s always going to be the opportunity to grow.
“It’s just like a family. Maybe you get into it with your family member and you don’t speak to them for a while and then whatever happens you kind of circle back around and things are a lot better, conversations are different and understanding is better. That’s what it’s kind of been as far as the hopefulness of the mending. But it’s been great, they embrace me and I’ve been able to come back and share those moments so obviously the healing has happened.”
Memories with the Lynx
Regardless of how things ended in Minnesota, Augustus is forever grateful for the time she spent with the Lynx and the endless accomplishments — both individually and as a team — she experienced with her first WNBA organization.
“It was an amazing opportunity. Obviously, I didn’t know where I was gonna go on draft night. It could have been Phoenix, it could have been Minnesota. I’m thankful that it was Minnesota because it was a great opportunity for me to just learn about a place that I’ve never known,” said Augustus, who is currently enjoying her retirement by spending it with family and friends and enjoying hobbies such as farming and gardening.
“I remember the first time I got there, the first question was ‘what do you know about Minnesota?’ I had absolutely no idea, I didn’t know much about Minnesota. Throughout the course of my 14 years, I’ve learned a lot,” she continued. “As far as the culture, the people, just the love that they share, how they go about business, and the blue collar, hard-working people that love to win but also love to embrace their sports team. It was amazing to be there for 14 years and enjoy the good, the bad and the ugly of what being part of a professional organization could be like, as far as the winning and the losing.
“I’m truly thankful to have been a part of a team and an organization that was very well structured and basically set us up to have the success that we had.”
When Augustus first broke into the league with the Lynx, the team didn’t reach the playoffs for her first five seasons while sitting near the bottom of the league standings annually.
Augustus was there since the beginning, being at the center of the Lynx as the team rebuilt itself while not finding success for a few years. But she trusted the organization’s plan, which ended up with the hiring of Cheryl Reeve as head coach and bringing in Lindsay Whalen, Rebekkah Brunson, Maya Moore and later Sylvia Fowles to form one of the best starting lineups on one of the best teams in WNBA history.
“Seeing those transitions, it made me feel comfortable and stay and continue to fight through until we got to the times where we hired a Coach Reeve, we started to get some better draft picks with the likes of a Maya Moore who came in and just added this championship pedigree to what we already had with myself, Whalen and Brunson,” Augustus said. “To go through that process and see the sacrifices that were made amongst all players and staff to make this, it was amazing to be part of that.
“That was probably my best basketball experience in my journey, and I’ve had many great moments, but we came in as strangers and we ended up being family toward the end of it.”
As far as her top moment with the organization over her 14 seasons, Augustus has to go with the first WNBA championship the Lynx won in 2011, sweeping the Atlanta Dream in the WNBA Finals that year.
“It’s always the first title because that’s what we always dream of,” Augustus said of her favorite memory in Minnesota. “That first title, we had no eyes on us and no one cared. Everybody thought we were just the same old Lynx. ... But this team felt different and looked different. ... They all understood the mindset changed here with the Lynx and we were gonna be a problem for some years to come.”
Being Part of Lynx Community
Along with finding success on the court, another thing Augustus enjoyed about her time in Minnesota was being part of the surrounding community and among the Lynx fan base.
Augustus recalls getting out into the community during her career, such as volunteering with former Lynx guard Danielle Robinson while working with the homeless at the Simpson House in Minneapolis and interacting with the LGBTQ community during Twin Cities Pride. She has fond memories of those moments, as well as the people in the community general. And she even misses the Minnesota State Fair which she frequently attended.
“It was amazing. Being there for the [All-25 Team celebration in July], I had a security officer take me to go and visit some of the friends that I normally see in the wheelchair section and so on,” Augustus said. “It’s like an undying love; it’s always gonna be there.
“Minnesota has always been home. I knew the Mississippi River ran [from Minnesota to Louisiana], but I didn’t know that it ran from the heart of Minnesota to the heart of Baton Rouge,” said Augustus, who is from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. “How divine is that? The two places that literally tugged at my heartstrings are connected in that way. It’s forever going to be there, that connection.”
Along with enjoying being within the Twin Cities community, Augustus has fond memories of the Lynx fan base and the passion, determination and energy they brought to Target Center on a nightly basis.
“Man, I love the Lynx fan base. ... They created an environment that [opposing players] hated to play in and we love to play in. They were amazing,” Augustus said. “They come in all ages, of all races, all everything. That’s the most beautiful part about it is the diversity, the inclusion, the beautiful rainbow of people that come to celebrate us night in and night out and give their all. That’s what we were able to feed off of every night to do what we needed to do.”
If she could say one thing to the Lynx fan base who gave back to her and the rest of the Lynx over her time in Minnesota, Augustus would simply say “thank you” for supporting her through everything.
“I’m thankful for my time that I spent there. I’m obviously honored to have represented the Lynx for so many years and brought a lot of pride and joy to the city and to the state,” Augustus said.
“I guess it’s just a big thank you. I never did get to [say] thank you, and I guess this is my opportunity to just say thank you for allowing me to be and enjoy and to grow as a woman and to become legendary. Thank you.”
Listen to the Full Podcast
Hear the entire Hitting the Hardwood podcast with Seimone Augustus, including her full comments on her career and time with the Lynx, her time in Minnesota coming to an end, the top moments from her career, her time within the Twin Cities community and within the Lynx fan base, the Lynx this season and in the future, and much more!