MINNEAPOLIS – Rebekkah Brunson will largely be focused on helping the Minnesota Lynx try to beat the Las Vegas Aces on Sunday, but for a few minutes pregame, she’ll get the chance to acknowledge what she did in her playing days.
Before the Lynx host the Aces, they’ll retire Brunson’s No. 32 jersey. She’ll be the third Lynx player to have her number retired, joining Lindsay Whalen and Seimone Augustus. Brunson played 15 seasons in the WNBA, the last nine with the Lynx. She retired from playing after the 2018 season.
“It’s exciting. First and foremost, it’s an honor to be able to hang out with Whay and Seimone for a little while longer. I think it’s important, I think everything that we’ve done as far as being athletes and being advocates for women, that continues being in the rafters,” Brunson said Thursday. “No matter where we are, what we’re doing, we have the ability to continue to inspire the generations that are coming after us.”
“It’s about time. I’m excited, I think she deserves it. If you ask me, I think she’s pretty underrated. I’m happy to see her number go up, I think it’s well-deserved and I think it’s been a long time coming,” said Lynx center Sylvia Fowles, who is retiring after this season.
Brunson is a five-time WNBA champion, including four with the Lynx during an era where she did the dirty work alongside Whalen, Augustus and Maya Moore. Here stats won’t jump off the page. In nine seasons with the Lynx, she averaged 9.2 points, 7.4 rebounds and one steal per game.
She was often tasked with guarding the opponent’s best player, and played with a physicality that few on the floor could match.
“It was the role that not a lot of people wanted to accept. She didn’t want to have plays run for her. Just all the dirty work, and she was so much a part of our will. Her determination to defend a team’s best post player, finish plays with rebounds, she just would physically put herself out there in a way you could count on,” Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said.
“We knew any time we needed to get stops, we knew where to put Rebekkah. She never failed us, she was successful doing those things,” Fowles said.
Brunson played in 261 career games with the Lynx, scoring 2,463 career points, getting 267 steals, 174 blocked shots and 56 double-doubles. She’s the first player in WNBA history to win five titles, including four with the Lynx. Her jersey retirement will feature a video tribute on her basketball career, as well as community activism work to advance social justice and LGBTQ+ rights.
Brunson holds the franchise-high in all three rebounding categories. She has 688 career offensive rebounds, 1,470 defensive and 2,158 total rebounds.
“Hard work, that’s one of the things that separated me. No matter what it was, I was going to go out there and compete. I was going to leave everything I had on the court, never cheating the game,” Brunson said.
Brunson will have remarks, and players and coaches will also wear a special warm-up T-shirt. Fans in attendance will also get a commemorative shirt.
She leaves a legacy of hard work, winning championships and now instilling that work ethic as a Lynx assistant coach for Reeve. Now when she looks up in the Target Center rafters, she’ll see her No. 32 jersey hanging.
“It’s an honor, we always talk about when I was a player kind of having my head in the sand and just focus on the goals. Focus on the task at hand and what we need to accomplish. Look at all we’ve done, I already did everything I needed to do, so now it’s just an opportunity to sit back and enjoy everything, all the moments that we made,” Brunson said.
Reeve couldn’t be more proud.
“It was kind of a forgone conclusion that these players would be in the rafters, but when it actually happens, it’s that feeling of god darn they were good,” Reeve said. “To have your jersey retired and up in the rafters, I can’t even imagine what that would feel like. You just feel incredibly proud. I’m excited for her to watch that thing go up.”