A WNBA legend has decided to call it a career. On Thursday, the Los Angeles Sparks announced that Seimone Augustus has retired after 15 seasons and will join the team as an assistant coach.
"It's an honor to continue to serve the game that has given me so much," Augustus said in a statement. "I'm excited to join the Sparks staff and look forward to developing in this new role."
"Seimone Augustus is one of the greatest basketball players to ever step foot on a court," Sparks head coach Derek Fisher said. "Her impact as a pioneer in our sport can be seen through all the players and people she's impacted in this game. It's been an amazing honor to work with her over the past year and we're excited to add all of her wisdom to our coaching staff."
After a historic collegiate career at LSU, in which she led the Lady Tigers to three straight Final Fours and was named Naismith Player of the Year in back-to-back seasons, Augustus was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2006 WNBA Draft. She would spend the next 14 seasons with the Minnesota Lynx, helping build one of the league's few true dynasties and becoming one of the game's all-time greats.
A prolific scorer from the minute she began her WNBA career, Augustus finished runner-up in the scoring champion race in each of her first two seasons in the league. Her 22.6 points per game in 2007 still ranks as the 11th-best scoring season of all-time, and she is one of just three players to ever average at least 22 points on 50 percent shooting.
Blessed with a quick first step, brilliant handle and good size on the perimeter, Augustus was a nightmare for opponents who simply had no answer for trying to defend her. Even sitting back and giving her space didn't work because she was one of the best off-the-dribble shooters the league has ever seen.
As the years went on, and the Lynx added more talent and starpower with the likes of Maya Moore, Lindsay Whalen, Rebekkah Brunson and Sylvia Fowles, Augustus relinquished some of the scoring responsibility. Even so, she averaged at least 16 points per game for nine straight seasons, and double digits for 13 straight seasons. Her 6,005 career points has her 10th on the all-time scoring list.
There's little doubt that Augustus could be even higher on that list and have more personal accolades, but her willingness to sacrifice for the good of the team was one of the major reasons the Lynx became one of the most successful franchises in WNBA history. From 2011-2017, the Lynx won four championships -- tied with the now-defunct Houston Comets for the most ever -- and made the Finals in six of those seven seasons. Augustus was there for all of them, winning Finals MVP in 2011.
In an interview with The Ringer back in 2018, she explained the team's approach, and how their selflessness made everything work:
Any one of us could go out there and score 20 points or whatever. But to make the next pass or make the next play, to give up yourself—like some games, Whalen doesn't score points, but she gives a great defensive effort and that goes unnoticed sometimes. In this day and age, all people focus on is points. Brunson is probably the most underrated person on this team because she plays defense and rebounds. She goes out there and selflessly gives up herself every game, regardless of her scoring 10 points, two points, or no points. It takes that kind of mentality to do something great. And then ultimately, we just want to win."
Along with her four titles and Finals MVP, Augustus won Rookie of the Year in 2006, went to eight All-Star Games and made six All-WNBA appearances. On the international level, Augustus helped the U.S. Women's National Basketball Team win the Gold medal at three straight Olympics in 2008, 2012 and 2016.
In 2016, when the WNBA announced its 20 Greatest Players of All Time, Augustus was on the list. Later this summer, when they expand the list to the 25 Greatest Players of All Time in honor of the league's 25th anniversary, there's no question she'll be there again.
Last offseason, after a somewhat unceremonious departure from the Lynx, Augustus signed a one-year deal with the Sparks in free agency. She averaged 5.9 points per game in a limited role off the bench, and though she proved she could still compete at this level, both her and the team have decided it would be best for her to move into a new phase of her career.
Sadly, since her swan song happened in the bubble, fans won't have a chance to give Augustus a send-off for her storied career. But even without a proper good-bye, no one will forget watching her play, or the impact she had on this league. The WNBA, and basketball in general, is in a better place because of Seimone Augustus.