January 16, 2023
Maya Moore announces retirement from professional basketball
'It was a dream come true for me to play basketball at the highest level'
Maya Moore, who put together a resume in professional basketball to rival anyone in the game’s history before walking away from the sport altogether to pursue social justice, announced she is retiring from basketball officially on Monday.
“I am extremely thankful for the opportunities that the WNBA, the Minnesota Lynx and basketball have given me in my lifetime,” Moore said in a statement. “It was a dream come true for me to play basketball at the highest level and help build the foundation for women’s basketball. Ever since I was drafted in 2011, the state of Minnesota, Lynx organization and fan base welcomed me with open arms and supported me throughout my entire career. I will forever be grateful for Glen Taylor, Coach Reeve and the Lynx community for all of the support and am excited to continue this next chapter in my life.”
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Moore won four WNBA championships in Minnesota, following a collegiate career at Connecticut that included a 150-4 record, four Final Four appearances and a pair of national titles. She was the first overall pick in the 2011 WNBA Draft, winning Rookie of the Year honors and leading the Lynx to the first of their four championships with Moore on the team.
But after the 2018 season, she left basketball to pursue justice for Jonathan Irons, a wrongly-accused man who Moore helped free in 2019 and is now married to, the two of them parents of a son born in 2022, and co-authors of a new book as well.
“On behalf of the Minnesota Lynx organization, I want to congratulate Maya on an incredible basketball career,” Lynx head coach and President of Basketball Operations Cheryl Reeve. “We will always cherish her time in a Lynx uniform and we wish her the best as she continues to pursue this next chapter of her life.”
Moore averaged 18.4 points per game on 45.3 percent shooting from the field in the regular season. In the playoffs, against better competition, that rose to 19.2 points per game and 46.6 percent shooting from the field.
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Moore was the WNBA Finals MVP in 2013, league MVP in 2014, and even won All Star Game MVP honors three times. She’ll finish her career 15th overall in WNBA history in win shares with 53.53, though this understates her greatness — her 271 games played is significantly less than any of the 14 players ahead of her, and she finished in the season top ten in win shares in seven of her eight professional seasons.
“I think these last four years have been just so focused on what I was doing at home, at what I was doing with Jonathan, at what I was doing with my community, and also learn a new rhythm outside of playing that I didn’t really wrestle with wanting to switch that pace up,” Moore told reporters Monday morning. “But it was very hard to accept, at times… missing my teammates. Because as you guys would watch us over that eight-year stretch, our chemistry was awesome. Very few teams had that chemistry… but I was very focused on just trying to be well, have a good rhythm.”
By win shares per 48 minutes, she ranks fifth in WNBA history, with almost as many championships as the four players ahead of her — Lauren Jackson, Elena Delle Donne, Yolanda Griffith and Tamika Catchings.
But her calling went well beyond basketball. It began in earnest in 2016, when she and her teammates wore “Change Starts With Us” shirts to protest police violence.
“It was about taking the eyes off of our basketball talent to put eyes, hearts and minds to shared humanity, which was our goal,” Moore said of that night. “Getting the courage to say let’s hold on and give attention to what matters most, which are people.”