About an hour and a half before Thursday’s game tipped off, Maya Moore was officially presented with the WNBA’s MVP trophy during a press conference with league president Laurel Richie.
It was a nice, well-attended and sometimes funny presentation in which Moore, who did just about everything a player could do to get her team to the place it is, reacted with both humor and humility.
In her presentation Richie joked that, in addition to leading the league in scoring, she also probably led in black eyes. She said she felt like she knew Moore, as they both came to the league at the same time. “My sense is you came back this year on a mission,” Richie said, “to make an impact on your team.’’
Echoing her previous comments, she talked about how strange it is to be focusing on a personal accomplishment less than two hours before the Lynx playoffs began. She thanked her team and her teammates for the environment she came into as a rookie, one that allowed her to grow as a person and a player.
She looked at her mom and asked her if she imagined this day decades ago when Moore was a little girl running around the family’s home in Missouri. “I couldn’t have dreamed it up,” Moore said.
Then she turned to the trophy to see if it was smiling. It should be, she said, because of, ‘’how much fun it is to be on this Minnesota Lynx team,” she said. “We enjoy coming to practice, the tough times that have come our way, especially this season, and how we’ve overcome them.’’
“This award, the thing I’m probably most proud of is the consistency it represents,” Moore said. “Coming in every day and walking the walk. That’s what you want to do as a leader. You want to go out and do it. .. I felt I kept my word when I said I’m going to be there for my team when they need me. And so did the other 11 players in the locker room. To know my teammates are proud of me means more than winning the award. I care more about what they think, and what the coaching staff thinks. To know they appreciate and respect me means a lot.’’
There is more to come. There will be a pre-game ceremony on court for the fans. And then Moore can do what she’d rather do: Buckle down and worry about winning a game, a series and a championship.
As for the game? Coach Cheryl Reeve has tried hard to keep the focus on the game and not on any MVP award. Indeed, she said she hasn’t even brought up the MVP with anyone on the team other than Moore herself, and won’t mention it in her pre-game speech.
This team is ready, I believe, after four days off between games. Reeve said Lindsay Whalen was saying at shootaround this morning that it was time to play. “The mental prep for these guys is something I’m really proud of,” Reeve said. “We have great leaders who embrace what we find important as a staff.’’
A couple other things: Reeve said Seimone Augustus’ knee feels good and that Rebekkah Brunson is coming off her best week of practice so far.
Oh, and rookie Damiris Dantas, who missed the final three games of the regular season tending to a family situation in her native Brazil, will not play tonight. But Reeve said there is a chance she could play at some point in this series.
That’s about it. I’ll get back to you after the game.