Since the the cover of Sports Illustrated for Women asked in the spring of 1999, “Is She the Next Michael Jordan?,” Seimone Augustus has been a fixture of women’s basketball culture, showing off her “smooth Louisiana swagger” in Baton Rouge, Minneapolis, Los Angeles and beyond for more than two decades.
Recently, Augustus was a guest on The Players’ Tribune’s Knuckleheads podcast, discussing her illustrious hoops career with hosts Quentin Richardson and Darius Miles.
.@seimoneaugustus made the cover of Sports Illustrated before she even played a high school game— The Players' Tribune (@PlayersTribune) January 8, 2021
The 4x @WNBA champion tells the story with @QRich and @21Blackking on Knuckleheads: https://t.co/ZyWXxhSVbO
In partnership with @ATT 5G. pic.twitter.com/qiuc6bSGTe
Here are some of highlights from their conversation:
On the other college she almost played for
Retrospectively, it seems fated that Augustus, a native of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, would suit up for her hometown school, LSU. Yet, Augustus admits that she considered taking her talents far from the southern Louisiana bayous. She tells Richardson and Miles:
To be honest, I wanted to go to Rutgers. I loved Coach Stringer. Something happened with my visit and I wasn’t able to take my visit to Rutgers ... That might have been a game changer for me had I been able to take that visit.
Had it worked out, Augustus would have been teammates with Cappie Pondexter. As she puts it, “That woulda been crazy.”
On representing LSU and Louisiana
Of course, Augustus would play at LSU, twice winning the Naismith Player of the Year award (2005, 2006) and Wade Trophy (2005, 2006) as she led the Tigers to three-straight Final Fours (2004-06). In 2010, LSU retired her jersey, an honor that had historical significance for Augustus. She shares with Richardson and Miles:
When I made my decision to come [to LSU] I sat down with a lot of elders. And they would tell me about times they couldn’t even come on LSU’s campus. And so they was like, ‘Yo, you broke down some barriers...We came down there for you. And to see a sister get her jersey hung in the arena that we, at one point in time, couldn’t even, you know, sit in...’ It was just like that racial divide down here. They was like, you know, ‘Thank you.’...I didn’t even think about it. But, you know, your elders always have that knowledge and wisdom that you need to tap into. And so, from that point, I really felt proud because it was so many of my ancestors and elders that was so proud one of us made it up there.
And even as her career in the WNBA and for Team USA has taken her far from her home state, Augustus still sees herself as representing for Louisiana basketball. Here’s how she explains it:
That was my goal, going back to high school. I didn’t get to go to a lot of camps. I wasn’t on a travel team...But the camps that I did go to I noticed that I was the only person from Louisiana. And so I prided myself, like if this is the first and the last time somebody gonna see a baller from Louisiana then I want them to remember me....And that just kind of trickled into college, pro, international basketball. Like, if this the first time you seen somebody hoop from Louisiana then I want this to be your best experience.
On her high-scoring rookie season in the WNBA
Almost immediately after the Minnesota Lynx made her the No. 1 pick in the 2006 WNBA Draft, Augustus made her mark on the league as a dynamic scorer, winning Rookie of the Year honors as she averaged nearly 22 points per game. She explains to Richardson and Miles how she was able to pour in the points as a WNBA rookie:
See in college we ran a motion offense so it basically went off what the other player did...And I did fairly well in that system. But in pro style, you know, we run a few plays but that puts you in that iso situations where you can get down...I got called in iso situations more than enough times where I got a chance to get busy. And at the time I was playing the 3. So I was quicker than most 3s so I could utilize my footwork. They always call me, like, ‘Baby Melo.’...So I give ‘em a little shot fake, get around ‘em and get to the post and get to the goal or whatever. I pull up for my jumper...How do you guard a person that has a great jump shot?...You know how to guard a 3-pointer shooter. You run ‘em off the line. You know how to guard a driver. You close out short. How do you defend a jump shooter? People really hadn’t figured that out because before me and Cappie I don’t know if there was, you know, players in the league that was scoring in that range consistently like that.
On the Lynx becoming the Lynx
Despite Augustus’s individual successes, the Lynx struggled to secure victories during her first several seasons in the league. She also suffered an ACL tear six games into her fourth season, the first major injury of her hoops career.
But in 2011, these trials would become triumphs.
The core of Augustus, Lindsay Whalen, Rebekkah Brunson and Maya Moore would elevate the Lynx into a championship-caliber team. Augustus recounts the special sense she had about that 2011 title-winning team:
The first week of practice we going head-to-head....You just saw people, like, (clap, clap, clap), ‘Let’s go!,’ like, getting after it...Maya over here...She ain’t really talk no trash but she had a look, like, when she J’ed you up she like, ‘Mmhmm.’....Whalen in there....The intensity of that team, the tenacity that we played with on the defensive end. You got prime Brunson that’s just a rebounder, just boarding everything. We were just able to play free....We were hungry! We had something to prove. And it just all came together in ‘11. It was amazing. It was an amazing feeling.
Check out the full podcast to also hear Augustus discuss:
- Sylvia Fowles’ recruiting visit to LSU
- Lindsay Whalen’s leadership
- Maya Moore’s decision to step away from basketball
- what the Lynx learned from their 2012 WNBA Finals loss to the Indiana Fever
- her “bittersweet” departure from Minnesota after 14 years
- her five favorite women hoopers