A year ago, Seimone Augustus’ decision to join the rival Sparks after spending all 14 of her previous WNBA seasons with Minnesota Lynx beggared belief.
Like, really? Seimone Augustus in purple and gold?
Now, the decorated basketball star cannot envision herself playing anywhere besides L.A., however much longer her career lasts.
“I said, ‘Look, if you’ve got some room for me I would love to be here,” Augustus, 36, said Tuesday morning in a Zoom video conference about her decision to re-sign. “Just to be here, I give my knowledge, my wisdom, my work ethic, and everything that contributes to building a championship culture here.
“What I do know for sure,” Augustus added, “is that I will retire as a Spark. I will have fun with that situation … Growing up watching Lisa Leslie, Nikki Teasley, DeLisha Milton-Jones and players of that caliber that came through this organization, the things that they were able to do. I just only hope to represent them as well as this organization as well as I can, and complete my journey wearing a Los Angeles Sparks jersey.”
In the coming season, Augustus will be key in helping usher in a new era for the Sparks, who lost All-Star point guard Chelsea Gray to Las Vegas and two-time MVP Candace Parker to Chicago in free agency. Like Augustus in Minnesota, Parker had played the entirety of her 13-season career with L.A., winning a title and serving as the face of the franchise for the duration of her tenure.
Augustus acknowledged that, without Parker and Gray, the Sparks’ expectations have shifted. There isn’t the same title-or-bust pressure, but that doesn’t mean anyone should count them out, said Augustus, a three-time Olympic gold medalist and four-time WNBA champion with the Lynx.
“Every year in training camp, every team says the same thing: ‘We’re gonna win a championship’” she said. “But some teams don’t know how to do that. Some teams do know how to do it … there’s more that goes into winning than just the points that you put on the board. The team chemistry is key. Being able to have that attitude that when things get hard we don’t fall apart, we fall together. And so that’s what we’re looking forward to. We don’t know.
“Obviously our expectations are high for ourselves, but we can’t just say, ‘Oh, we’re gonna finish first.’ We don’t know. And that’s the beauty in the journey, is to just allow it to be whatever it is it’s gonna be. And when we look up, after all this hard work we’re doing, and we take a breather and we look up, if we’re at the top, and we’re surprising people, then whoop! We still got more work to do. We put our head back down and we keep getting to work.
“But if not, we still got work to do.”
— Los Angeles Sparks (@LASparks) February 22, 2021
Augustus – who shot 54.5% from 3-point range last season, the second-highest percentage of her career, often while playing power forward instead of stationed at the wing as was customary – is eager to impart her years of experience to assist the Sparks’ promising young core develop.
“What we do know is we have great young pieces,” said Augustus, a native of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. “As far as watching press conferences with (recent signees) Bria Holmes, Erica Wheeler, and Amanda Zahui B. … you can feel the passion, the determination, you know the joy of just being in L.A. and having the opportunity to play here. And sometimes that’s really all you need.”
Augustus said her decision to return was aided by her experience playing for Derek Fisher, the Sparks’ coach and general manager, who was tuned into to what she needed as a veteran with many miles on her odometer.
“Being a player at one point in time at the highest level, understanding the mental and physical strains that we face every day, and him being able to make sure that we pay attention to that … really helped me feel confident,” said Augustus, who said she surprised herself last season with her proficiency, averaging 5.9 points and 15.8 minutes on 49.1% shooting.
“Knowing that I had somebody in our staff that would help me be the best that I could possibly be any given day. No matter how much time I played or what I was able to give, I was gonna be able to give the best that I had that day.”
And, Augustus made it clear Tuesday, for however many more days she’s got left in the WNBA.
The Sparks announced Tuesday that they joined the New York Liberty, Atlanta Dream and Indiana Fever in partnering with Anthem – of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association – in a unique partnership to combat racial and health inequities and promoting social justice initiatives within each of the teams’ local communities. Through the agreement, Anthem made significant multi-year investments in each franchise.
In L.A., Anthem Blue Cross will serve as the presenting partner of the Sparks’ Health and Wellness community pillar, the Spark the True You campaign, and Keeping Kids in the Game, a program that will facilitate youth and their families’ virtual experiences, as well as tickets and transportation to Sparks games when fans are able to return.
We’re teaming up with Anthem Blue Cross to address Health Inequities and Social Justice. ✊
— Los Angeles Sparks (@LASparks) February 23, 2021