Today, it became official that Maya Moore, WNBA all-time great had indeed retired from professional basketball following an illustrious career within the game.
We have known this for a while. In fact, we have known this since the 2018 season, which turned out to be Moore’s final season as a WNBA player.
Actually, illustrious does not even begin to describe how much of an impact Moore had on the WNBA. She spearheaded the Minnesota Lynx’s dynasty of the 2010s where the team won championships in 2011, 2013, 2015 and 2017.
While the WNBA is still a relatively young league, there is already an interesting conversation on who is the current GOAT of the W. That conversation typically has revolved around Diana Taurasi and Sue Bird – also UConn alums as Moore is.
A few even bring up Sheryl Swoopes, who has a great case. A few even bring up Lisa Leslie or Candace Parker. There is also Breanna Stewart and A’ja Wilson who are putting themselves firmly into that discourse as well.
But let us also remember that Moore for many years was the gold standard of the WNBA. After all, she is a four-time champion and nearly won a fifth ring in 2016. Just thinking about her career makes one want to rewatch those classic battles from the Minnesota Lynx-Los Angeles Sparks rivalry of the mid-to-late 2010s.
Hey, NBA TV…run a few those jewels back. For our viewing pleasures.
A huge part of the reason why it seems Moore has been sidelined from the GOAT conversation in some corners of the basketball fanbase has a lot to do with her absence from said game over the past several years. It was a consistently running conversation as to what if she decided to come back and play one or two more years.
Instead, Moore decided that her time as a player had indeed come and gone. And it does not look like coaching is in her future either.
She recently held a Zoom press conference and was asked about the possibility of her coaching. Moore replied that, if anything, she would coach her children, but would likely not be a full time hoops coach.
Her time with the game may have come to a close, but her imprint on the game is everlasting. The Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame and Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame need to be working on her plaques as we speak, write and tweet.
But as much as she is a basketball GOAT, she is also a GOAT in life as well.
Even though for the last few years, fans have pined and yearned for her to return to the WNBA, it became crystal clear that she felt she had done everything she could do within the confines of the game.
Meaning – she began to follow other pursuits.
Moore reinvented herself. And as her farewell press conference with the Lynx showed, she is a strong Black woman who is deeply rooted in her faith.
She also committed herself to justice – and finding everlasting love. Moore’s influence in getting a Missouri (her birth state) man named Jonathan Irons freed from a wrongful prison sentence (and then proceeding to marrying Irons) is a masterclass in not allowing one element of one’s life to be the defining nature of that life.
As is always the case with retired athletes, their elevated position will leave plenty of fans wondering exactly what their next act will be. In many ways, Moore has already revealed to us what her next act will be by what she managed to get accomplished these past few years away from the game.
There are going to be those that will slight Moore by saying she left the game while she was in her prime so she gets left out of that “greatest of all time” conversation. There have even been those that have criticized her for freeing her now husband and dressing it up as a social justice campaign.
But the results speak for themselves. Moore is a champion at the high school level at Collins Hill High School in Georgia. She was a champion at the national collegiate level when she played at UConn under Geno Auriemma. She was a champion in the WNBA with the Lynx that also included greats such as Rebekkah Brunson, Sylvia Fowles, Lindsay Whalen and Seimone Augustus as part of its core – not to mention Cheryl Reeve as coach. Plus she has a pair of Olympic gold medals and a pair of FIBA gold medals in international play.
She is a winner at life as much as she was a winner on the court – and that is sure to continue as she has transitioned to the next phase of her life with her husband and family.
Thank you for the memories, Maya Moore. Thank you, GOAT.