Maya Moore has already won three WNBA titles, two Olympic Gold Medals, been named the league’s Most Valuable Player (2014), Rookie of the Year (2011) and been All-WNBA First Team four times. The fans, her teammates, coaches, the Lynx organization, the league and, of course, Moore herself, expect greatness. As she enters her seventh WNBA season however, there are four reasons to believe it will be Moore’s best ever.
First, there’s last year’s WNBA Finals loss to Los Angeles. Great athletes are always looking for new means of motivation. That won’t be a problem for Moore in 2017. When asked about the 2016 Finals directly, she downplayed it, but you don’t have to read hard between the lines to see its impact.
“Motivation is a very diverse beast,” Moore commented. “You can find so many different types of motivation. I think the thing that Cheryl (Reeve) cares about is that we have to use that motivation to help us win. So whatever we need to do to give us positive energy. Good, aggressive, focused energy. You can take last year, you can take this year, you can take whatever you need. Just bring all you have with you.”
Second, she is fresh. For the first time in her career, Moore did not go overseas during the WNBA offseason. In a profession that is basically year-round for most women, this cannot be underestimated.
“I just wanted to get rest,” the soon-to-be 28-year-old (June 11) said of her offseason decision. “To be still, take a break. Kind of let myself recharge. Be at home, not be on a plane every-other-day, 10 ½ months out of the year. I was really pleased with getting that chance to recharge, so that I could be as fresh as possible for this season. As well as the future, after this season. Definitely, it was great for my body, great for my mind, heart and I am excited to get back on the court with my team.”
Third, it’s officially her team. While Seimone Augustus, Lindsay Whalen and Rebekkah Brunson are still very productive players, they are now 33, 34 and 35. Young in real life, but in the late innings of their basketball careers. Obviously, all three are team players and will have no issue with having Moore, in the prime of her career, assert herself more. Especially on offense.
Lastly, there’s attention to detail. “All the details it takes to win as well as understanding who we are (is our focus),” Moore commented. “Our identity as a team is something that just doesn’t happen. You have to clearly communicate it and then as leaders, we have to show that it’s important by doing it and leading by example….Just remembering how hard it is to win.”
There’s also a little extra bonus that will make the 2017 campaign special. With Target Center closed to complete its remodel this summer, the Lynx will pursue their fourth WNBA title at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. Moore is excited about the temporary move.
“It’s going to be a great thing for the Twin Cities, our team,” she pointed out. “A chance to expand our fan base really. We’ve got so many great fans who live in the Minneapolis area, but also in the St. Paul area and other parts of Minnesota. I think we are willing to drive an extra 20 minutes up the road and I hope everybody else is too. I think it will just add to the amazing home court advantage that we have.”