Another game, another win and another trophy for Maya Moore.
MINNEAPOLIS—“This is the second time someone has asked me that in the last 10 minutes,” said Maya Moore when asked about adding a third WNBA All-Star Game MVP trophy, after leading Team Parker to a 119-112 win in Saturday’s WNBA All Star Game. “Thank you for your concern for my storage space.
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“No, it’s crazy,” Moore continued. “It really is. To just be fortunate enough to be in positions to continue to win, to be playing well, to be healthy, to be here, and obviously to do it here in front of our home fans, friends, family is so special and makes it even more special. But I will get back to you with the storage space answer.”
Moore led Team Parker to a win over Team Delle Donne with 18 points, eight rebounds, and six assists in 21 minutes. Kristi Toliver led Team Delle Donne with 23 points, two rebounds and three assists but they weren’t going to give the MVP to a player from the losing team when Moore plays well and wins on her home floor.
With her third all-star game MVP, Moore cements her place in WNBA lore by tying her with Sparks legend Lisa Leslie for most all-star game MVPs won by a single player. Had the game been played in 2016, we could very well be talking about a fourth-consecutive MVP.
Moore took the time in her postgame press conference to reflect on what will make this all-star game memorable to her.
She cited the crowd of over 15,000 that packed the Target Center to create a fun environment for fans and players alike to be a part of. But she also took the time to put the moment into context.
“I think people were just really excited to have it here at a fun time, having especially having Rebekkah [Brunson] there, having four of us was really special just to have another All-Star,” said Moore. “It’s so funny, it’s like my rookie year when there were four of us down in San Antonio and then four of us here, we’ve had several of us there before, but you just don’t want to take it for granted. So I just appreciate having my teammates around and all the people who have been making this place a special place around, as well.”
Moore is right.
Sylvia Fowles is 32 years old and playing the best basketball of her life. Brunson turns 37 later this year. And Seimone Augustus is 34 years old as well. These players still have some good basketball left in them but these opportunities, to have all four of them be all-stars together, are shrinking.
Yet, age can sneak up on you. Sometimes unexpectedly.
Teammate Lindsay Whalen, 5-time all star and future hall of famer, turned 36 years old last May and is averaging career lows in minutes, points, rebounds, assists, and field goal and 3-point percentage. Taking time to appreciate these moments is essential as careers can change from year-to-year and even day-to-day.
Unlike the other all-star games, this one had a different flavor. For the first time, the teammates would become opponents. Fowles and Augustus were chosen for Team Delle Donne while Moore and Brunson were selected for Team Parker.
“Well, I told Syl [Fowles] she wasn’t allowed to block my shot. That worked out,” said Moore. “Seimone [Augustus] was chattering a little bit. We actually didn’t even guard each other at all at any point in the game, so Rebekkah [Brunson] held it down for us.”
“But it was fun just to kind of be able to give each other little looks. I was giving Seimone looks the tunnel before the intro. It was really fun just for a day.”
Fun is something the new format seemed to invite a lot of. On one play, Augustus began her crossover against Candace Parker and just walked away laughing. Liz Cambage ran point guard in the first quarter for Team Parker. On another, Sue Bird overthrew her teammate on an outlet pass and comically threw her arms up in the touchdown sign. And the crowd had no idea how to respond when Fowles stole the ball from Moore.
This was an environment that was easy to engage fans but this was only one of the moments Moore and the league used to grow the women’s game.
“There’s so many special things that happened over the course of these two and a half days, whether it’s the clinics that we get to do with the kids,” said Moore. “We had an all-girls’ clinic that we got to participate in earlier, a few days ago, and just all the excitement from yesterday. It’s a lot of energy for us.
“But it’s worth it, I think, for the experience that our fans get to have, and to cap it off today with a really entertaining day, a fun day, I think you could see it on all of our faces, we had a good time. To have that fun reciprocated with the crowd, it was just a great time to be here just with the beautiful new Target Center and so many of our fans showing out and fans from all over coming and being able to enjoy Minneapolis right now and enjoy what we have here.”
Winning is always going to be important to Moore. She’s always won, at every single level, and it’s no surprise to see her team pull through in an exhibition setting. Moore knows that the Lynx’s season intensifies when they return to action next week but she was still focused on all-star night with her teammates and the fans who make it all possible.
Oh, and the storage space.