The seeds of Monday's announcement can be traced back to July 2016.
Philando Castile had been shot by a police officer during a traffic stop in Falcon Heights. Another Black man, Alton Sterling, had been shot by police outside a shop in Baton Rouge, La.
Before their home game on July 9, Lynx stars Maya Moore, Rebekkah Brunson, Seimone Augustus and Lindsay Whalen wore T-shirts that read, "Change starts with us" and "Justice and accountability" on the front, with Castile and Sterling's names on the back.
Moore, 33, officially announced her retirement from the WNBA on Monday. It came four years after she stepped away from the game to help Jonathan Irons overturn his 50-year prison sentence, which happened in 2020. She and Irons have since married and had a son, and Moore has started "Win With Justice," a social action campaign.
“To bring light and joy and intensity to what I was doing. I hope people saw me as someone who gave all she had. But also somebody who looks beyond the craft I pursued, tried to value people.”
Moore announced her decision on ABC's "Good Morning America." She and her husband have also written a book, about to be released, called "Love & Justice."
It is a life path Moore chose that can be traced, in a sense, back to that pregame news conference.
"Whenever you pause something great to say something is more important, that gains attention," Moore said on a conference call with reporters. "As it should."
Something great certainly describes Moore's career. She won two NCAA titles with Connecticut in 2009 and 2010 before becoming the first overall pick by the Lynx in 2011, earning WNBA Rookie of the Year honors as the Lynx won the first of four league titles in seven years. She was the Finals MVP in 2013 and the league MVP a year later. She won gold medals twice in the Olympics (2012, 2016) and twice in the world championships (2010, 2014).
Asked about her strongest career memories, Moore offered two: The training camp at UConn before the Huskies won the first of back-to-back titles, going 39-0. The other was the 2011 Lynx title, watching Augustus win Finals MVP.
"I was somebody, when I was playing, I always tried to bring energy," Moore said. "To bring light and joy and intensity to what I was doing. I hope people saw me as someone who gave all she had. But also somebody who looks beyond the craft I pursued, tried to value people."
That was why, listening to Moore, that a return to the game was never really expected, especially as she leaned into social justice issues and built more of a life outside the game. "Just trying to learn a new rhythm outside of playing," she said. "I didn't really wrestle with a desire to want to switch that pace up."
But when she played? The Lynx went 200-71 in the regular season and were 40-16 in the playoffs during Moore's time with the team. She finished as the franchise's best in three-pointers made (530), steals (449). She scored 4,984 points. Monday, Moore called her time with the Lynx "a victory story."
"I want to congratulate Maya on an incredible basketball career," said Cheryl Reeve, Lynx president of basketball operations and coach. "We will always cherish her time in a Lynx uniform and we wish her the best as she continues to pursue this next chapter in her life."
The next likely basketball step will be the Naismith Hall of Fame, for which she will become eligible next year.
"I realize what a gift it is to do what I was able to do," Moore said. "To be around so many great people and athletes, people who love the game. That's so unique. I was humbled to have that experience."
The Maya Moore file
Age: 33 (born June 11, 1989 in Jefferson City, Mo.)
Hometown: Lawrenceville, Ga.
College: Connecticut (2007-11); a four-time AP first-team All-America pick, she led the Huskies to two national championships (2009, '10) and four Final Fours.
WNBA: The No. 1 overall pick in the 2011 draft by the Lynx, the 6-0 forward was one of four players (along with Seimone Augustus, Rebekkah Brunson and Lindsay Whalen) to play on the franchise's four championship teams (2011, '13, '15 and '17). She was a six-time All-Star, three-time All-Star MVP and five-time All-WNBA first-team selection. She was the 2011 WNBA Rookie of the Year, the 2013 WNBA Finals MVP and the 2014 league MVP.
Year, team G FG Reb Ast Stl Blk Pts
2011 Lynx 34 .439 4.6 2.6 1.4 0.5 13.2
2012 Lynx 34 .465 6.0 3.6 1.5 0.6 16.4
2013 Lynx 34 .509 6.2 3.0 1.7 1.0 18.5
2014 Lynx 34 .481 8.1 3.4 1.9 0.8 23.9
2015 Lynx 33 .420 6.7 3.5 1.6 0.7 20.6
2016 Lynx 34 .448 5.1 4.2 1.5 0.7 19.3
2017 Lynx 34 .442 5.0 3.5 1.8 0.4 17.3
2018 Lynx 34 .423 5.1 2.6 1.7 0.3 18.0
Totals 271 .453 5.9 3.3 1.7 0.6 18.4