MINNEAPOLIS — One of the Lynx’s all-time greats is hanging it up, but she’s not going far.
In the same press conference Tuesday in which the team announced Rebekkah Brunson’s retirement, it also announced that the franchise icon is joining the Lynx’s coaching staff.
Brunson will be an assistant coach on Cheryl Reeve’s staff, focusing on scouting and the development of the team’s post players. Brunson joins a coaching staff that features two other former Lynx players, Katie Smith and Plenette Pierson.
“I love the game and I want to continue to give as much as I can to this organization, to this city,” Brunson said. “I think that I’ve always made it known that this city is important to me, and how much this team means to Minnesota and Minneapolis. I want to continue to be as much a part of it as I can.”
Reeve had a number of candidates express interest in Minnesota’s vacancy on the bench — both men and women. She told everyone she had one person in mind who would have the first crack at the job — Brunson. The question was — did Brunson want it? The forward didn’t play in 2019 while dealing with concussion-like symptoms, but hadn’t publicly announced any plans to retire. And coaching wasn’t something she’d ever put much thought into.
“Really, I said it was something I wouldn’t do,” Brunson said. “Because I know how I approach the game, and I felt like there would be frustration there.”
But as she’s aged and grown, she started to understand there are different ways in which she can be a part of the game. This is one of those. As a player, Brunson was a part of Minnesota’s leadership council, along with Lindsay Whalen, Seimone Augustus and Maya Moore. Now, she’ll be asked to lead in a different way.
“Rebekkah was a leader more by example,” Reeve said. “And now I don’t know that that’s going to work as much. She can still be an example to get on the court and go ‘This is what I did, this is how I had success.’ But I think there’s going to have to be more of a voice on it, because that’s what you do as a coach. You’re expressing yourself about what you want to have happen. That’s a growth opportunity to get a little more vocal. To be in a staff meeting and share an opinion. She’s always done that. Being a part of our leadership team, I would count heavily on her in those moments, as if we already had staff meetings. I think that’s going to come easy for her.”
The Lynx also announced they will retire Brunson’s No. 32 jersey and hang it from the Target Center rafters, alongside Whalen’s No. 13. Brunson, 38, won five WNBA titles as a player and is the league’s all-time leader in rebounds (3,356). She made five all-star games and was a WNBA first-team all-defense selection in 2011.
Brunson’s playing time in Minnesota, Reeve noted, “could not have gone any better.”
She was part of the core that delivered one of the WNBA’s true dynasties. Surrounded by scorers and playmakers, with her defensive grit and ability to attack on the boards, Brunson was the motor that made it all go.
Reeve said Tuesday that she wished she could take some of Brunson’s will to win and give it to each of her current 12 players.
That, of course, can’t happen, but having the icon coach this franchise’s next generation isn’t a bad alternative.
“When this opportunity came, I really knew that this was the right trajectory of my journey,” Brunson said. “Being on the court wasn’t my journey any more. It was about those young women and what they want to accomplish, as far as being out there. If I can have an impact, if I can continue to grow, and just change my journey a little bit.”