Minnesota Lynx forward Maya Moore is just 28-years-old and has a basketball resume as long as anybody.
On Wednesday night, the Minnesota Lynx were crowned WNBA champions after beating the Los Angeles Sparks 85-76 in Game 5 of the WNBA Finals. Maya Moore had 18 points and 10 rebounds. It’s their fourth title in seven years, making them one of the most dominant teams in sports but also the most overlooked. There are, unfortunately, more than a few people who don’t take women’s sports seriously, and the WNBA is the punching bag for the jokes and memes. The fact of the matter is that these ladies can play, and there’s a precision they execute the game with that, sometimes, is crisper than their male counterparts.
Those in the NBA and other sports have profound respect for what the ladies do in their league. They’re the top one percent of their profession. David Stern — the former NBA commissioner — founded the WNBA in 1996, and the lack of mainstream coverage hasn’t deterred any players from going out and dominating. The league is still in its infancy compared to other sports, but the list of legends keeps going. And some have built careers that are admirable no matter what league they play in. Maya Moore is the latest.
Everyone on this Earth has a purpose. Kendrick Lamar was put here to make music; Stephen King was born to write fiction. Maya Moore was brought into this world to play basketball. Her mother birthed her on June 11, 1989, in Jefferson City, Missouri. I don’t know if she knew her daughter would go on to become the poster child of dominance.
Just for some perspective — Moore is younger than Stephen Curry who, at 29, has already appeared in four All-Star Games, on four All-NBA teams and has brought home two MVPs and two championships. On top of that, his 2015-16 season is arguably the most dominant in NBA history. I don’t want to spoil anything, but Moore’s list of accolades and accomplishments makes that look like child’s play.
Standing six-feet tall, Moore has built her career on being an elite scorer. That goes all the way back to her days as a child.
She was a four-year starter at Collins Hill High School in Gwinnett County, near Suwanee, Georgia. Over those four years, she lost three games — three. Over that same stretch, her teams won 125 games — one-hundred twenty-five. Moore’s numbers were just as bonkers. As a senior, she averaged 25.5 points, 12.1 rebounds, 4.3 steals and 4.0 assists. Her career stat line includes 19.3 points, 8.6 rebounds and 3.5 steals, and she’s the all-time leader at Collins Hill in all four of those major categories: 2,664 points, 1,212 rebounds, 467 steals and 407 assists.
Her tremendous prep career brought in a slew of awards, which includes being the Naismith Prep Player of the Year. Moore also landed on various All-America Teams for Sports Illustrated (once), Parade Magazine (twice), USA Today (twice) and Street & Smith (three times). The state of Georgia named her the Player of the Year three times for the 5A Class, and she was a four-time member of the 5A All-State first team. Moore was still a kid.
The University of Connecticut was the school where she’d spend the next four years. And she spent them on the top of the world. Moore’s impact was immediate. She averaged 17.8 points and 7.6 boards while nailing 42 percent of her triples. The Huskies coasted to a 36-2 record before losing to Stanford in the Final Four. Moore was named the Freshman of the Year for both the Big East and the USBWA, and also became UConn’s first freshman to be selected as an All-American. Moore had no problems sustaining that level of play.
During her sophomore year, the Huskies went 39-0 and brought home their first national championship since 2004. Moore was the fastest woman in UConn’s history to crack 1,000 career points, and he did so by dropping a 40-piece on the Syracuse Orange. She nearly swept the Player of the Year awards after averaging 19.3 points and 8.9 rebounds. That dominance was consistent over the next two years. As a junior, Moore led the Huskies to another undefeated season that culminated with a championship. By the end of her senior year, Moore had totaled 3,036 points in 154 games, and she stuffed her trophy case to the brim:
- 4x AP All-America First Team
- 4x USBWA All-America Team
- 3x Wade Trophy Winner
- 3x Big East Player of the Year
- 2x Naismith College Player of the Year
- 2x John R. Wooden Award Winner
- 2x USBWA Women’s National Player of the Year
- 2x AP College Player of the Year
- 2x NCAA Champion
- NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player (2010)
- USBWA Freshman of the Year
- Countless Jaws Dropped
Just like a Billy Mays commercial… there’s more! Moore’s collegiate dominance led the Lynx to pick her first overall in 2011, and her transition to professional basketball was seamless. As if she hadn’t filled her trophy case enough, she added the Rookie of the Year award to it after averaging 13.2 points and 4.6 rebounds in her first season. That campaign also featured Moore’s first All-Star selection. The Lynx, thanks to Seimone Augustus and Lindsay Whalen, were already one of the WNBA’s most dominant teams and they compiled a 27-7 record. Coach Cheryl Reeve led Minnesota to the Finals, where they promptly swept the Atlanta Dream. Moore put up 15 in the series clincher. In just one year, she was at the top of professional basketball. Given her supreme skill set, it was only right for USA Basketball to extend an invitation.
Moore and the Women’s National Team torched the international competition. There just wasn’t a team that could contend with them, and they finished with a gold medal and an 8-0 record. Her Minnesota Lynx had almost equal success. They finished 27-7 for the second-straight season and returned to the WNBA Finals, but the Indiana Fever got the best of them and beat them three games to one. Moore wasn’t an All-Star despite improving on her rookie year. She did, however, lead the team in points scored (558) and made threes (73), and her second total was good enough for fourth in the league. The following campaign was even more dazzling.
Moore’s steady improvement continued into year three, where she stuffed the box score: 18.5 points, 6.2 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.7 steals and 1.0 blocks. Moore was the best player on her team that year and carried the Lynx back to the Finals for the third-straight year. They bested the Atlanta Dream — again. She returned the All-Star Game and made her first of five All-WNBA first teams.
The best individual season of Moore’s career was 2014. She averaged a career-high 23.9 points, 8.1 rebounds and 1.9 steals while shooting 48.1 percent from the floor. The oddest part was the inconsistency of her three-ball, which dropped to 33.5 percent and she’s routinely been one of the WNBA’s most lethal snipers. Minnesota failed to make the Finals, which was also odd. However, Moore’s scoring rampage earned her the MVP award and a place in the history books. Her 23.9 points are third in league history behind Diana Taurasi; Moore dropped 48 against the Atlanta Dream on July 22, which is the second-highest total in a WNBA game.
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Her subsequent seasons weren’t the same statistically, but Maya Moore continued to win. The Lynx captured their third title in 2015.
Athletes that are the caliber of Moore take the winning ways wherever they go. She’s won at the collegiate level and the professional level — six titles and counting. She’s also won while representing her country and has four gold medals somewhere in her trophy room (which is probably more like a trophy house at this point) — two from the Olympics (2012, 2016) and two from the FIBA World Championships (2010, 2014).
It’s not uncommon to see WNBA players take their talents overseas during the offseason. Moore is no exception. She’s spent time in Spain and China, and, if you think she continued to win, you’re right. Ros Casares Valencia was the club that she signed with back in 2011-2012, and they won the first ever EuroLeague championship. In the CBA, nothing changed except the numbers.
Players in the Chinese league are notorious for boasting inflated metrics. Someone like Moore, whose talent is among the one percent of the one percent, would have a field day. And that she did. In her first year with the Shanxi Flame, Moore averaged 37.3 points for the season and won the CBA title. The next year, she averaged 39.3 points and won another title. By the end of the 2014-15 season, Shanxi captured their third-straight CBA title, but Moore’s scoring fell to just 30.0 points. (“Just” is such a funny word to put there because that’s still an incredible number.)
Maya Moore has been all over the planet. She’s won at every level. Not only that, she’s been the reason that the teams have won at every level. Few players in the history of the game rival her sheer volume of success, and it might be a long time before we see anyone equal it. At just 28-years-old, she’s built one of the all-time greatest resumes in the history of sports.
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