After years of speculation since she last stepped on a basketball court with the Minnesota Lynx in 2018, one of the WNBA’s all-time greatest players has officially decided to hang up her shoes.
On Monday, Lynx legend Maya Moore announced her retirement from the Lynx and the WNBA after eight seasons as a professional. Following the 2018 season, Moore announced she would step away from basketball while focusing on social justice initiatives and other interests off the court, notably helping free her now-husband Jonathan Irons, who was wrongfully convicted of burglary and assault charges.
“Our personal story with Jonathan (Irons) was at the forefront for me over these last few years in shifting away from the game,” Moore said on Monday. “These last four years have been so focused on what I was doing at home, what I was doing with Jonathan and my community. Also just trying to learn a new rhythm outside of playing that I didn’t really wrestle with a desire to switch that pace up.
“It was hard at times to accept, as Lindsay (Whalen) retired and Seimone (Augustus) retired and Rebekkah (Brunson) and now (Sylvia Fowles), just missing my teammates,” Moore continued. “Over that eight-year stretch, our chemistry was just awesome. There were very few teams that had a core like we did. I missed that more than anything.”
LIVE ON @GMA: WNBA star @MooreMaya announces her retirement from pro basketball: “I want to continue to be present at home, for our community, and also doing work with our nonprofit. That's what I'm moving into.”@RobinRobertshttps://t.co/1NCTH7TScs pic.twitter.com/wEx7PZCvWr— Good Morning America (@GMA) January 16, 2023
After a historic collegiate career at the University of Connecticut, Moore entered the WNBA in 2011 as the top overall pick by the Lynx. Moore went on to spend eight seasons in Minnesota, finishing her career as a four-time WNBA champion and the Lynx franchise leader in scoring average (18.4 points per game), three-point field goals made (530) and steals (449), while finishing second in points scored (4,984), field goals made (1,782), assists (896) and blocks (176).
Moore’s resume also includes being named 2011 Rookie of the Year and 2014 league MVP, earning six All-Star appearances and three All-Star MVPs, winning Olympic gold medals with Team USA in 2012 and 2016, making eight-consecutive playoff appearances and six WNBA Finals appearances, while claiming four titles and one Finals MVP award. She was named to the WNBA’s Top 20 @ 20 Team that honored the league’s best 20 players as part of its 20th anniversary celebration, also selected to The W25 which was a list comprised of the 25 greatest players in WNBA history.
“I couldn’t have written this story like this. It was definitely unexpected, but at the same time, it has been very thoughtful, planned and prepared. That’s life ... and that’s basketball too,” Moore said about her journey. “Doing your best to be present and prepared in the moment, but then persevering through the hard. That’s how I’ve been shaped. ... Persevering through the hard and the unexpected because of love and because of the relationships and bonds that you have, and learning the importance of forming meaningful, deep bonds as best as you can. That’s where you find purpose in your life.
“That’s how it’s shaped me, just the different relationships that I’ve been able to form through the path I’ve been on, whether that’s on the basketball side of things or family side of things. ... Our story is a victory story and I got to be a part of a lot of victory, but it wasn’t easy.”
Moore retires after appearing in 271 regular season games for the Lynx, finishing with a record of 200-71 while holding the highest winning percentage of any player in Lynx history (73.8%). She is just one of three players — joining Seimone Augustus (225) and Lindsay Whalen (201) — to have won 200 or more regular season games in Minnesota.
“Maya Moore has forever left a mark on the state of Minnesota, the Minnesota Lynx franchise and the hearts of Lynx fans everywhere,” Minnesota Timberwolves and Lynx owner Glen Taylor said in a statement released by the team. “Maya’s accolades are numerous; her leadership and talent both fearless and inspirational set the foundation for the most exciting and historic championship run in the league from 2011-2017. While today culminates Maya’s basketball career, there is no doubt she will continue to impact the game we all love. We wish Maya all the best and will root for her always.”
Moore also appeared in 56 playoff games for the Lynx, carrying a career record of 40-16 over that span. She remains in a four-way tie with Rebekkah Brunson (40-15), Whalen (40-16) and Augustus (40-17) for most postseason wins in franchise history.
“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 said in a statement from the team. “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.”
What many thought would be an eventual outcome was made official on Monday, with Moore officially retiring from basketball. Moore not only goes down as one of the best players to ever step on the court — who will also join Whalen, Augustus, Brunson and eventually Fowles as Lynx players to have their numbers retired and hung from the Target Center rafters — but she will also go down as one of the most influential basketball players, athletes and overall human beings we’ve ever seen with her off the court passions he has pursued her entire life.
“When I was playing, I always tried to bring energy, light and joy and intensity to what I was doing. I hope people saw me as someone who gave all she had in whatever she was doing. ... I tried to give my all in those moments,” Moore said. “I’m also somebody who looks beyond the craft that I pursued and tried to value people.
“I’m someone that never gave up, whether it was being down in a game and trying to help the team come back or not giving up on a person like Jonathan. Or just persisting through the grind of every year, I tried to finish the things I said ‘yes’ to.”