Tue. May 17th, 2022

Lynx teammates during a run that produced four WNBA titles in seven years, Rebekkah Brunson and Seimone Augustus sat on opposite benches Saturday at Target Center.

Both are retired as players. Brunson is a Lynx assistant and Augustus a newly minted assistant for the visiting Los Angeles Sparks.

It was Augustus’ first appearance at Target Center since she signed a free-agent contract to play the 2020 season for the Sparks, given last season was spent in the WNBA’s bubble in Florida.

There were a few ways Augustus was welcomed back. The Lynx players warmed up in T-shirts with Augustus’ picture, commemorating her retirement, sent to all of the league’s teams by Augustus’ agent. And then, the pregame roar of the fans, and a planned video tribute by the team.

And one more thing: Just before the game began the Lynx announced the jerseys of both Brunson and Augustus would be retired, together, at some point next season. Augustus’ 33 and Brunson’s 32 will join Lindsay Whalen’s 13 hanging in the Target Center rafters. That led to standing ovations for both and to them embracing at center court.

“It’s about as easy as it gets,” Reeve said of the decision to honor the two.

Why next year? By then COVID-19 restrictions likely will have eased and more fans will be allowed to take part. The team had previously announced Brunson’s jersey would be retired this year. Now both ceremonies will occur next year.

Augustus, the first overall pick by Minnesota in the 2006 draft, played all but one season with the Lynx, retiring last month. She was an eight-time All-Star, MVP of the 2011 WNBA Finals. Brunson played nine of her 15 seasons with the Lynx. For her career she averaged 9.2 points and 7.4 rebounds. She is second in league history (to Lynx center Sylvia Fowles) in rebounds with 3,356. She was a five-time All-Star, named all-defense first or second team seven times.

Reeve talked about how unselfish Augustus was, how relentless she was as a scorer: “I’ve never been around anyone capable of doing what she [did].”

And Brunson? The rebounding, Brunson’s ability as a shutdown defender. “Here’s what I think of,” Reeve said. “I think of all the extra possessions she got us just on hustle plays.”

The bottom line: “It’s hard to replace them,” Reeve said. “Players like that, who have that second-to-none ability to do something.”

Whalen, Augustus, Brunson and Maya Moore were on all four championship teams.

“It’s special,” Brunson said. “What we were able to accomplish was just special. It is an honor to have a place in Target Center for as long as the Lynx are playing in that arena. It’s something else to add to the memory box.”

Augustus, in a release by the Lynx, said, “I’m forever grateful to Los Lynx Nation and honored that my jersey will be in the rafters of Target Center.”

Brunson? “I took pride in my defense,” she said.

And more: “It’s all the things we were able to accomplish,” said Brunson, the WNBA’s only player with five championship rings; she won one in Sacramento before coming to Minnesota. “It’s being a part of the foundation of what the Lynx were going to be.”

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