Although she’s just 27 years old Maya Moore is one of the most decorated members of the Women’s National Team. Not only is she a three-time WNBA champion, she was the 2014 league MVP and has been named in All-Star in four of her first five professional seasons.
She added more hardware to her trophy case in 2012 when she won an Olympic gold medal in London.
A then 23-year-old, Moore was fresh off a stellar career at the University of Connecticut and had only played in one season in the WNBA. But, don’t think she wasn’t prepared for the moment. In her rookie season Moore was the catalyst behind Minnesota’s championship run, and was also named Rookie of the Year. Her talent was undeniable, her readiness unquestioned. But still, wearing the red, white, and blue at most storied sporting event in the history of the world comes with a new level of pressure.
In 2012 Moore may have been the reigning Rookie of the Year and league champion but she was a novice when it came to Olympic experience.
As she gears up for her second run at gold, she’s no longer the fresh-faced newcomer to Olympic play, instead she’s a shrewd veteran with a wealth of knowledge to impart on first-timers like Breanna Stewart, Elena Delle Donne, and Brittney Griner.
“I know more about the rhythm of how it works and what to expect,” Moore said after the United States cruised to a 83-43 win over Canada on Friday. “I know more about what this month looks like, so I’m in a great spot where I can still take direction and comfort from the senior leaders that have been around, but at the same time being able to help the younger players.”
It’s an intriguing place that Moore finds herself in leading up to Rio. While she doesn’t quite have the Olympic pedigree of a Diana Taurasi, or Sue Bird, her value to the next generation of United States standouts comes as more of a near-peer. She is only one year older than Delle Donne, two than Griner, and of the returning members of the 2012 team, her six year age gap from Stewart is the closest.
EDD, Griner, and Stewie may be the youngsters on the squad but their talent far exceeds their age. While turning to legends like the aforementioned Taurasi and Bird is always helpful, it will likely be Moore who can most readily provide insight about what to expect from your first Olympic experience because it’s the freshest in her mind.
This role won’t be new territory for the superstar small forward, she’s seen it all in her professional career to this point. Moore hasn’t missed a beat when it comes to assimilating new talent into an already stacked Minnesota roster will be looked upon to do the same in Rio.
Everyone’s seen the sleek jumper and ravenous will to win, but expect a reposeful Maya Moore this Olympics as she knows what’s coming and exactly how to handle it.
“Having the experience of four years ago under my belt does help to calm the nerves, but I’m sure once the games get going, we’ll have a lot of good nerves and be anxious to get out there and play.“