Maya Moore Takes Home The MVP
Maya Moore is a winner in every sense of the word. She’s won three-consecutive Georgia state high school championships, two NCAA championships at UConn, a Women’s Chinese Basketball Association championship, an Olympic gold medal in London in 2012 and two WNBA Championships. And now, she can add the 2012 Finals MVP to that list, which she won in her old stomping grounds.
“The trophy is always my first priority. I wanted to make sure I was doing my job for my teammates and somehow that ended up with me getting the MVP,” said the forward who had the chance to win it in front of her friends and family.
This trail of championships just doesn’t happen overnight, however. She worked hard to get here and Lynx head coach Cheryl Reeve knows that.
“It’s not a coincidence that where Maya Moore is there’s championships.”
Moore was the first pick in the 2011 WNBA Draft and was lucky enough to win a championship in her rookie season. But back then she was learning – having been surrounded by top talent in Lindsay Whalen, Seimone Augustus and Rebekkah Brunson. Now, she’s emerging as the leader of a talented Lynx team that became only the second team in WNBA Playoffs history to grab a 7-0 sweep in postseason play since 2006, when the current playoffs format was established.
This year in the playoffs, she pulled her team together to get the sweep over the Atlanta Dream in Game 3 of the WNBA Finals. She posted a game-high 23 points in both Games 1 and 3 of the series and achieved a personal postseason career high with 9 free throws made in Game 3. But to her, that doesn’t matter. It’s all about the play of her teammates.
“Like I said on the stage, I really meant that, the most valuable players are my ten other teammates, so I really share this with them…the journey all the practices, you know we had a few bumps in the road in the season…but we came together and it’s so sweet to be standing [here] and playing as well as we did in the playoffs.”
Those teammates include the other four starters that posted double figure scoring numbers in both Games 2 and 3 and the X-factor Monica Wright. The last time the Lynx won the Finals, back in 2011, Moore’s teammate Seimone Augustus took home the Finals MVP trophy, but this year she was just proud that it went to her young teammate.
“She’s a great young talent that everybody knew at some point she was going to blossom into the player that we saw this year,” said the guard who scored double figures throughout the Finals series. “She found herself, she was patient on the offensive end and defensively, she got after it when we needed her to so I’m happy for Maya, I’m proud of her.”
The team chemistry has led to this moment, but Moore has emerged as a very special player to play with herself.
“It’s been a blessing ever since I got the chance to play with her,” said teammate Rebekkah Brunson who grabbed 12 rebounds in Game 3, making her the leading rebounder in WNBA Finals history. “I think she’s an amazing person, an amazing player, she gives us a boost. She goes out there every night, every game and plays as hard as she can possibly play and puts everything on the line. You can’t ask for more than that.”
Coach Reeve, who holds the best win percentage of any coach in postseason play, knew that Moore had something unique about her from the beginning.
“Since the day that we drafted Maya, we had this sense that it was going to be special. But I didn’t know that it would be this special. And what she did for our team when she got here was that she gave us that work ethic, that confidence that she expected to win. And she was key for our team because she’s so humble, so she’s the type of superstar that fit in well with our group so we were so fortunate that it worked out the way that it did.”
While Maya Moore is walking away as the MVP of the Finals, she is most thankful about the fact that she gets to play the game that she loves.
“It’s just been a real dream to play the sport we love for a living, then to be able to do it at the highest level and then walk off as champions together – this is stuff you remember for the rest of your life.”