The NFL and NBA labor situations have given other sports an opportunity to shine. The golfing world has eagerly followed young Rory McIlroy; the women’s World Cup soccer grabbed national attention, and I’m anticipated watching the new star of the WNBA, Maya Moore.
Moore, a forward who was the star player for the dominant UCONN women’s basketball teams of the past several years, was the consensus top overall prospect coming into this year’s WNBA draft. As a result, she was taken first overall by the Minnesota Lynx, a fledgling team that’s only been to the playoffs twice in its short history, and not since 2004. The Lynx currently are battling to win the Western Conference, thanks in large part to Moore’s presence. At six feet tall, Moore has the size and athleticism to play inside and out. She’s an efficient scorer and she plays with the maturity of a veteran. Coming out of college, she was lauded for her court vision and hand speed.
Perhaps most notably, Moore is the first rookie since 2002 to start an all-star game, and recently her jersey sales eclipsed those of L.A.’s Candace Parker for the top spot in the entire WNBA. Many have viewed Parker as the face of the WNBA for quite some time, and an injury suffered earlier this year had many fans of the league concerned for the its already low levels of support. Luckily, Moore has helped fill the void left by the talented Parker, continuing to ignite fans.
Moore has brought a star presence to the Lynx that’s driven up merchandise sales and energized a small but loyal fan base. She’s combined with fellow Lynx players Rebekkah Brunson, Seimone Augustus and Lindsay Whalen to form an excellent nucleus of talent that makes the Lynx title candidates. These three players will join Moore in the all-star game, marking the first time ever the Lynx has more than two players sent to the all-star game in the same season. It’s also only the fifth time any team has sent four players or more players.
The building of the WNBA has been slow and difficult, but with players as talented and as high profile as Moore entering the league, the game will continue to improve in time. Not only does Moore draw more fans, but fans also start noticing the other amazing players in the WNBA who don’t get as much press. Sue Bird and Swin Cash in Seattle, Sylvia Fowell in Chicago, and Tamika Catchings in Indiana are just a few of the many players who could stand to benefit from the added star power. Hopefully, high profile players like Moore and Parker will soon become household names, and the WNBA will take another step forward in the minds of sports fans everywhere.