The 2021 WNBA season got off to a fast and furious start this past weekend. Already, the Connecticut Sun and New York Liberty are 2-0, the Chicago Sky and Seattle Storm are looking like what many predicted the Sky and Storm to look like and the Dallas Wings earned a surprising victory over the Los Angeles Sparks on Friday night at the LA Convention Center.
But, did anyone notice something different about the Sparks bench? No – not the players, but the coaches’ portion of that bench – and particular who was present on said bench.
On that bench was Seimone Augustus, who it was announced had retired after not making the Sparks’ final 12-woman roster for the 2021 season. As a result, Augustus had joined coach Derek Fisher’s staff.
Suidden retirements in case of players either not making rosters or teams looking to stay below the salary cap are nothing new in the WNBA. It happened with LaToya Sanders with the Washington Mystics around the time they re-upped with Natasha Cloud over the offseason. It happened with Jackie Gemelos with the Liberty. It happened with Sugar Rodgers with the Las Vegas Aces. Speaking of the Aces, Carolyn Swords prior to the bubble took a job in Las Vegas’ front office only to unretire before the start of the season.
It is different, though, when we are talking about a player of Augustus’ stature – and why she is more than deserving of her flowers for an illustrious career.
Augustus is a top-ten all-time scorer in WNBA history. She won four championships with the Minnesota Lynx. She is an eight-time All-Star. She is a former WNBA Finals MVP. Augustus won three Olympic gold medals. Augustus has future Hall of Famer (Women’s Basketball and Naismith Memorial) written all over.
And while we know that Augustus may have only averaged 5.9 points per game last season in the wubble and just over three per contest in 2019 (where she only played 12 games), let us look at the totality of Augustus’ career. When she was at her best, there are fewer ballers that have stepped on a WNBA court with more accolades than Money Mone.
Her sudden retirement was certainly unexpected which is the difference between her departure as a player plus entry into the coaching ranks and those of others. Augustus’ retirement came on the last day of the preseason – when teams, including Los Angeles, were at their deadlines to finalize their 12-person rosters. Some teams are not even keeping 12 players because of their respective salary cap situations and some are not even available because of continuing overseas commitments.
Obviously, Augustus was still a candidate to make the Sparks’ 12-person roster, and obviously would have brought a veteran presence on a team that is one of the older teams in the league. But one would think that her retirement, particularly in the W’s 25th season, would have been presented a greater opportunity to give Augustus a proper send-off.
Remember how Dwyane Wade was given a farewell tour at the end of his NBA career? Augustus is more than deserving of something similar. Save for last season in the wubble, Augustus spent her entire WNBA career with one team – the Lynx.
The Sparks travel to Minnesota to play the Lynx next month – June 12 to be exact. That, alone, presents a golden opportunity, especially with fans back at Target Center, for Minnesota to give a proper thank you for what she has meant to its franchise and the WNBA as a whole.
Augustus is one of those players deserving of one of those classic one-day contracts where she gets to retire with the team that defined her career. She should be able to retire as a Lynx. And while for the Sparks to still pay her as a coach where she is not beholden to salary cap limitations as opposed to cutting her outright is a definite improvement (and something the players fought for in the new CBA), Augustus is an all-time WNBA great.
She deserves the retired numbers, the career celebrations, the statues, everything. Her career deserves to be remembered and acknowledged amongst our mainstream media brethren like the future Hall of Famer she is.
Congratulations on an outstanding career as a player – and if the WNBA family knows Money Mone the way we know it does, this appears to be only the beginning for her as she enters her next act in life.
Timeline and national media not showing @seimoneaugustus enough love. She delivered one of the sauciest crossovers in the game when she was cooking cats on her way to titles and awards. Via @WNBA pic.twitter.com/1Oezc8USKz
— Chris Williamson (@CWilliamson44) May 16, 2021
What a career.
— Minnesota Lynx (@minnesotalynx) May 14, 2021
— UnhypedAthletics™ LLC (@unhypeathletics) May 13, 2021
Mone! Thank u for the blood, sweat & tears you’ve given to the game, inspiring millions of girls to play & never give up on the journey. Thank u for enlightening me in the most humble way & sharing ur gift. You changed the game @seimoneaugustus we salute & celebrate ur greatness! pic.twitter.com/Rg7jtw0Ff1
— LaChina Robinson (@LaChinaRobinson) May 16, 2021
.@seimoneaugustus on legacy:
“I haven’t even had a chance to sit in a room with all of my accolades and really see and acknowledge all that I’ve done. So, really and truly, I’m waiting to hear what other people are gonna say…what my story is based off someone else telling it.” https://t.co/5zY9jvqCjJ pic.twitter.com/Y4BwMGKp6x
— Khristina Williams (Founder, Girls Talk Sports TV) (@Khristina2334) May 16, 2021
— FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup (@FIBAWWC) May 14, 2021