Professional Basketball

Lynx hit milestones during 2016 regular season

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There are certain milestones in professional sports that signal when you have arrived as one of the greatest to play the game. In baseball, the 3,000 hit mark is one of those milestones as only 30 players in the history of major league baseball have accomplished that feat, most recently Ichiro Suzuki on Aug. 7, 2016. An equivalent milestone for the WNBA is 5,000 points which has been surpassed 17 times, including three times so far in the 2016 season.

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Minnesota Lynx forward Rebekkah Brunson grabs a rebound during the Aug. 28 game against Seattle. Brunson is now the all-time league leader in offensive rebounds. Photo by Abe Booker III.

The first player to cross that mark this year was Minnesota Lynx guard Lindsay Whalen, who scored her 5,000th career point on July 7 at Connecticut. She became the first person in league history with more than 5,000 points, 2,000 assists and 1,500 rebounds.

“It’s really cool because there are so many players who have played in the league. It kind of shows that I’ve been playing for a long time,” said Whalen. “I’ve been able to make a few, so it worked out well.”

Lynx guard Seimone Augustus congratulated her teammate, but was amazed at Whalen’s accomplishment. “How many point guards are on that list with 5,000 points? There’s probably not many,” she said. “Out of 15 players, there’s probably two or three, which is a big feat because point guards are normally known for the assists record. That says a lot about Whalen and how she’s progressed over the years.”

Somehow Lynx center Janel McCarville, who was also Whalen’s teammate at the University of Minnesota, was not surprised.

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Minnesota Lynx guard Seimone Augustus became the 16th player to cross the 5,000 point mark on July 17, just two days after notching her 1,000th rebound. Photo by Abe Booker III.

“Well, for Whay, she was always the scorer in college so I’d assumed she’d set some milestones for herself in the WNBA. I’m glad I was here to be a part of it for the most part,” said McCarville.

The next player to surpass that barrier was Augustus, who accomplished that at Dallas on July 17, just two days after grabbing her 1,000th rebound.

“I welcome her to the club,” said Whalen. “It’s fun that we both did it in the same season. I had a couple extra years on her so I think she caught me pretty quick.”

Said Augustus, “It’s great since only 16 players in the history of the WNBA have ever accomplished that and I’m honored to be one of them, to be in great company with Sheryl Swoopes, Lindsay Whalen and all the other great players that are on that list.”

Lynx forward Rebekkah Brunson is proud of Augustus’s milestones in both points and rebounds.

“Seimone’s a great player. Even before I started playing with her, when I was still in Sacramento, you could see that her ceiling was limitless. Since I’ve been here, she’s done some amazing things for us,” said Brunson. “There’s no surprise that she’s hitting those milestones and Seimone is going to continue to play her game and do whatever it is that we need from her.”

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Phoenix Mercury forward Candice Dupree shoots an off-balanced jumper over the outstretched arms of Minnesota Lynx forward Rebekkah Brunson on June 7. Dupree is the latest player to cross the 5,000 point mark. Photo by Abe Booker III.

The 17th player to hit that milestone is Phoenix Mercury forward Candice Dupree, who it a 12-foot jumper on August 26, against the Dallas Wings. During the same game, Wings forward Plenette Pierson scored her 4,000th career point.

Two nights later, Brunson made history by grabbing her 1,063rd offensive rebound, passing former teammate Taj McWilliams-Franklin’s mark to take the top spot in that category. Considering that the nearest active players, Indiana Fever’s Tamika Catchings (912) and New York Liberty’s Swin Cash (777) are retiring at the end of this season, it is safe to say that Brunson’s record will stand for the foreseeable future. Brunson isn’t finished playing, yet the nearest active players are the Chicago Sky’s Erika de Souza (755) and the New York Liberty’s Tina Charles (711).

“It’s fitting that she’s the number one. It’s a huge part of her identity,” said Lynx head coach Cheryl Reeve. “Offensive rebounding, she’ll tell you this, is a ‘want to.’ If you’re around Brunson, you know the size of her ‘want to.’ It’s pretty huge. She knows it’s vital to our team when she does that.”

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Indiana Fever forward Tamika Catchings surpassed Lisa Leslie as the all-time WNBA rebounder in league history Friday night. Photo by Abe Booker III.

“I’m just happy that it happened for her in a Lynx uniform because she’s done amazing things for this team in that area. I was really proud of her and to be able to do that in front of the home crowd was really fun and she got the recognition she deserved,” Reeve added.

Lynx forward Maya Moore is happy that she set the record as a teammate. “Rebounding is such a big part of a championship team and there’s no question that we wouldn’t have the dominance that we’ve been able to have without her consistently doing what she’s done. I’m glad that people are recognizing and appreciating that.”

Brunson has 2,977 rebounds in her career leading up to the final regular season game tonight against the Atlanta Dream. During last night’s Lynx-Fever game in Indiana, Tamika Catchings surpassed Lisa Leslie to take the top overall rebounding mark in league history. Catchings now has 3,308 and will most likely add to that total tomorrow during her final regular season appearance at Bankers Life Fieldhouse against the Dallas Wings.

There is still a possibility that one more milestone might be reached tonight when the Atlanta Dream visit the Minnesota Lynx. Dream forward Angel McCoughtry currently has 4,972 career points and only needs 28 points in order to reach that mark.

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