Seimone Augustus wasn’t just a basketball player, she was a revelation.
My little sister is my favorite basketball player ever. Not only because she’s my sister, but she also graduated with our high school’s scoring record — once held by former WNBA player Linda Burgess. My sister isn’t just my sister, she was a hooper. Dropping 30-plus in rivalry games, jab-stepping and pulling up for game-winning 30 footers. Off the court, she was a straight-A student, the mindful daughter, the compassionate sibling. On the court, she was a villain who reveled in her ability to cause havoc, and I made it my business to feed that side of her as much as possible.
Our lives revolved around studying basketball and we consumed as much of the women’s game as we could. It was important to see what she was up against. We’d be in her room sitting an inch from the television watching the Michelle Marciniak-led Lady Vols coached by the legendary Pat Summit. It would be years before we even realized that Tennessee even had a men’s team. The whole family would gather around the television to watch Cynthia Cooper go to work during the Houston Comets dynasty. When Nike dropped Cynthia’s Air Shake Em Up, they might as well have been a Jordan release. We clamored to get them. My sister got a pair. It’s been over 20 years and I’m still mad they didn’t have my size.
We’d seen and watched it all — at least we thought — until Seimone Augustus walked onto LSU’s campus rocking the straight back braids. We would watch her play the game, befuddled by what she was doing on the court. She had a nice handle, a cold mid-range game, could finish in traffic, shoot the deep ball and might hit you with a back-to-the-basket turnaround fade away if she was feeling saucy. It wasn’t just the skill, it was the ease at which she did it. We realized that some people choose to play basketball and others were chosen. She was the latter. Seimone was the chosen one.
She dominated at LSU, leading the Tigers to three straight Final Four appearances, averaging nearly 20 points, shooting nearly 55% from the field, earning almost any collegiate award you can imagine including the National Player of the Year (2005) and Naismith Award (2005, 2006), and becoming the first woman in LSU history to get her jersey retired.
The No. 1 pick in the 2006 WNBA draft, Augustus continued what she did at LSU with possibly the best rookie year in the history of the league: Dropping nearly 22 points a game, breaking the Minnesota Lynx single-season scoring record, being selected as an All-Star and winning Rookie of the Year. In her 15 years, she won four championships, a Finals MVP, made six All-WNBA teams, was selected to eight All-Star teams, and named one of the top 20 women to ever play the game.
She retires a legend, having given everything she could to the game as a player and will be a great addition to the Sparks coaching staff. In 1999 at 15 years old, she was on the cover of Sports Illustrated in an article questioning if she was the next Michael Jordan. Now, she can help mold the next Seimone Augustus.
Last year, I had a chance to talk to her about basketball and her time in the bubble. It was a bucket list experience for me and one of the most enjoyable basketball conversations I’ve ever had. Her knowledge and passion for the game is unparalleled. I also told her about all the years I lost off my life stressing out watching her give the Lady Vols buckets. She responded simply, while chuckling, “You’re welcome.”
And to that, I say thank you.
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