Maya Moore kicked off a whirlwind 24 hours of celebrating when teammates presented her with a birthday cake after Wednesday’s practice. From there, it was on to White House on Thursday to meet President Obama in a ceremony to honor the 2013 WNBA champion Lynx.
A presidential audience for Moore happens about as often as, well, her birthday celebration. This will be Moore’s fifth trip to the White House — three in college with Connecticut for NCAA championships and two with the Lynx — giving the 25-year-old a two-White House-function edge over coach Cheryl Reeve and guard Lindsay Whalen.
Old hat? “Oh, no,” Moore said. “It’s always fun to go see a president who’s a huge basketball fan.”
For Reeve, it will be an opportunity to remind the president of the message she conveyed during the Lynx’s first White House visit, in September 2012. Obama at the time was in a hotly contested re-election campaign.
“I told him, ‘You get back here, we’ll get back here,’ ” Reeve said. “I hope he remembers that.”
And if he doesn’t, Reeve said she will remind him.
Such lighthearted talk permeated the Lynx practice Wednesday. Reeve gathered her team around her and reminded them, first and foremost, to “enjoy it, soak it up.’’ Reeve, who made her first visit in 2008 as a Detroit assistant, said she wants her team to savor the memories of last season, “because what we did is really, really hard. We never want to take shortcuts in terms of celebrating, whether small or very big.’’
The White House visit comes at the start of an extremely difficult four-game stretch for the Lynx. A day after visiting the President, the Lynx (8-1) play at Atlanta, which lost to Minnesota in the WNBA Finals last season. After that comes two games with Phoenix (Sunday at Target Center, Wednesday at Phoenix) sandwiched around a Tuesday road game at Los Angeles.
Reeve said she doesn’t worry about the White House visit being a distraction that could affect game preparation.
“We’ll leave the White House and head to Atlanta and be back in business mode,” she said. “I’ve got a really good, mature group, a great group of leaders.”
That group includes Moore, who, when asked about any possible distraction, just smiled.
“With all the injuries, we’ve had to handle so many things this year,” Moore said. “This is going to make it feel normal.”
Easy to say for someone making her fifth visit to the White House.