Maya Moore has put her WNBA career with the Lynx on hold for two seasons. Her mission, in large part, was working to overturn the conviction of Jonathan Irons, whom she and others feel was wrongly convicted — and given a 50-year sentence — for burglary and assault decades ago.
In an interview with ESPN on Thursday, Moore spoke out about events around the nation since the Memorial Day death of George Floyd while in the custody of the Minneapolis police. She also was asked about the recent comments by New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees, who said he disagreed with NFL players kneeling in protest during the national anthem before later apologizing for his remarks.
"It's been overwhelming, just like any human being, watching what's going on," Moore said.
But having battled for Irons for so long — a fight that helped lead to his conviction being overturned in March — Moore has some insight into the history going back to slavery that connects to recent protests.
"These roots, and that culture, is still in our modern day," Moore said, adding it "shows itself through policing, through prosecutorial misconduct, through numerous things that are systematically in place. Right now we're having our eyes opened to the bad news of what's going on. But also I think now people are able to have their eyes on the good news of where we can go, who we can become, now that we've actually started to acknowledge where we are."
Back in 2016, Moore — along with teammates Rebekkah Brunson, Seimone Augustus and Lindsay Whalen — had the Lynx wear T-shirts in warm-ups for a game that urged change in the wake of Philando Castile being shot during a traffic stop in Falcon Heights and, earlier, Alton Sterling having been shot by police outside a store in Baton Rouge, La., not far from where Augustus grew up.
The four off-duty Minneapolis police officers working the Lynx game at Target Center that night walked off the job after players held a news conference denouncing racial profiling, then wore the shirts before the game.
On ESPN, Moore was asked about Brees, who in an interview Wednesday with Yahoo Finance reiterated his stance that he would never agree with anybody disrespecting the American flag.
"The other half of what Drew, I think, was starting to see — and other people can see — is that this symbol of freedom and bravery in America means that for a portion of the population," Moore said. "There are so many — namely black and brown bodies — who have experienced a different America than what the mainstream American flag symbolizes."