Kristen Rasmussen expected to play in the WNBA for four, maybe five years after graduating from Michigan State in 2000.
Instead, the 6-4 Lynx forward is in the middle of her ninth season, playing for her eighth team. Detroit's Sheri Sam is next with seven stops, then the number drops to five among current WNBA players.
Three of Rasmussen's past teams -- Utah, Miami and Charlotte -- no longer exist.
"I've been around -- in a basketball sense," Rasmussen said laughing, which she often does. "I am kind of like a chameleon. I can fit in to whatever team needs me."
The Lynx acquired Rasmussen March 14 in a trade with Connecticut.
Rasmussen, 29, credits her career's longevity in part to her support staff: a cook, a masseur, a maid, a bookkeeper, a chauffeur. Jamie Tarr, her husband of nearly three years, handles those jobs and more.
"He takes care of everything," Rasmussen said, "so when I come to practice and when I come to games, I am ready to go."
Rasmussen, a key bench player whose minutes vary widely, recently had her second career double-double. She averages 3.3 points and 2.9 rebounds per game, but had 10 points and 11 rebounds against San Antonio on June 28. She is 37 rebounds shy of 1,000 for her career.
"Kristen is a coach's dream," Lynx coach Don Zierden said. "She's that one player you can count on for energy no matter how much she plays."
And she can rely on Tarr, a 6-6, 260-pound Australian. She met the ex-rugby player while in Spain playing basketball.
"He gave up his career in Australia so I can pursue mine," Rasmussen said.
Their international romance confirms Rasmussen's belief in fate. They met in February 2005 in the lone Mormon church in Zaragoza, Spain. Rasmussen was playing for that city's basketball team. Tarr was passing through Zaragoza, halfway between Madrid and Barcelona, at the start of a $10,000 European vacation he won in a radio contest.
He never got to Italy, France and England, the other nations on his tour.
"I was a good boy and went to church on Sunday and there she was," Tarr said. "Over the sea of short, Spanish people, there is a 6-4, gorgeous blonde and I thought, 'I need to talk to her.' We just hit it off."
Tarr stayed for three weeks in Zaragoza, not the most idyllic spot -- "it had three paper mills around it and stunk like rotten broccoli," he said -- before returning home.
When Rasmussen visited Tarr after her season in Spain ended, he had a ring for her. They were married seven months after meeting.
"I know, it's completely up to the stars how that happened," Rasmussen said.
Tarr is completing a master's degree in communications online through the University of Australia while caring for his wife.
"I love it," Tarr said of his married life. "Who would not like to have the coolest wife, who can take the beating that she does, be as fun as she is, and be as petite and feminine and be my best friend? I keep telling people she is the coolest Sheila [Australian slang for a woman] I know."
Rasmussen said she plans to keep playing as long as she can. "Basketball is so much fun," she said. "It's an opportunity to go out there and, everything you have, you can put it out on the court. That's what I try to do."
Rasmussen has started in three of her nine seasons, most recently at Phoenix in 2006.
Her briefest stop? One game in Utah in 2000 before being cut.
Her longest stay? Three seasons in Miami, through 2002. She had a car and lived in a South Beach high-rise. Said Rasmussen, "I thought, 'This is great being here and then ...' "
... And then the team folded. She signed as a free agent with Indiana and played there for two seasons.
Her worst experience? Being traded to Charlotte in 2005. The Sting was a bad team, with an inexperienced coach in former NBA point guard Muggsy Bogues. "It was kind of like an open gym. Go out and play," Rasmussen said.
Phoenix in 2006 was much better. "They had Cappie Pondexter and Diana Taurasi, great people, down to earth," Rasmussen said. "They were not all about the fame and glory."
Rasmussen signed her first multiyear contract with Connecticut before the 2007 season, but the Sun almost completely rebuilt its team this season.
She said the Lynx are one of the best franchises she has played for because the coaches seem concerned about a player's life off the court as well as on it.
"I always thought it would be nice to stay in one place and kind of build my home, but this is the path I have been handed and I wouldn't trade it for anything," Rasmussen said.
Said Tarr: "Change is good. You are continually learning. You are always out of your comfort zone, so you are forced to adapt and get better. I think she has done that."
Up next: 7 p.m. Wednesday vs. Atlanta
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