DULUTH, GA. – Road game? Not to Maya Moore.
When she and the Lynx walked into the Arena at Gwinnett Center on Thursday for the third — and final — game of the WNBA Finals, she was greeted by employees like an old friend. For good reason.
She grew up in Gwinnett County. She went to Collins Hill High School, grew up six miles from the arena. She won three state high school titles in the building and went through her commencement here.
And now this: Capping off a wonderful playoff run that saw her lead the Lynx in scoring in five of seven games, Moore scored 23 points in the 86-77 victory over Atlanta that gave the Lynx a second league title in three seasons. For her efforts, she was named the series Most Valuable Player.
This has been a pretty special place for Moore. She had a cadre of friends, family and fans in one corner of the court. And they had a lot to cheer about.
“This is special for those people who supported me,” she said. “People who were a part of my life in high school. I’m glad to be able to share this.”
As always, Moore tried to share credit. She noted that four of her teammates scored in double figures, that each had a strong quarter. She reveled in the feeling that the title had returned to Minnesota after leaving for Indiana last season.
In Game 3, she did whatever it took to get it back, shooting 6-for-11 from the floor, including 2-for-5 on three-pointers. Most importantly, when Atlanta was pushing the Lynx, Moore got to the line repeatedly, hitting nine of 10 free throws.
All that translated into an MVP award. “It means the world,” Moore said. “Just because I feel — I’m spoiled right now. I have so many people who have helped me so much.”
The Lynx will hold a parade down Nicollet Mall on Monday, beginning at 11:30 a.m. The parade will begin at the corner of 12th Street and Nicollet Avenue, before turning down 7th Street toward Target Center.
After the procession, the team will hold a pep rally at Target Center, open to the public, beginning at 12:15 p.m.
• Due to bad traffic, the Lynx’s bus arrived at the arena a good 16 or 17 minutes later than planned, forcing the team to alter its pregame plans. It didn’t turn out to be a problem.
• The Lynx will return Friday on AirTran Flight 109, which is scheduled to arrive at Terminal 2, formerly the Humphrey Terminal, at 5:37 p.m. The team welcomes fans in the baggage claim area.
• Owner Glen Taylor, in the locker room, watching his team celebrate: “You wait, you hope, and then it happens. This is very special, because they worked so hard to get to this goal.”