UPDATE, 11/11, 10:31 am: Moore has just scored 60.
Let’s play a game: how many points will Maya Moore score in her WCBA debut tomorrow for Shanxi Xingrui Flame vs. Bayi? I’m going to set the over/under at 59.5 (take the poll after the jump). Shanxi has no other scorer (currently 0-2), and while Bayi is 2-0, we’re going to go out on a limb and say the team has absolutely no one who will be able to stop her. Remember, JR Smith scored 60 playing in a CBA game this past season, and he’s nowhere as good as Moore relative to the competition.
I don’t think Jon Pastuszek of NiuBBall is overstating it when he says Moore, fresh off leading the WNBA’s Minnesota Lynx to a runner-up finish, “is going to shred this league into approximately one billion little pieces.”
Emphasis his, for good reason. Imagine if LeBron James played in the CBA. Think the comparison is a stretch? In the above video (on Youku after the jump for those in China), listen to her talk, with absolutely no false bravado, about her game over the summer vs. Team China (emphasis mine this time): “I thought I came in just trying to be aggressive and bringing energy. I love playing that way, it creates steals, it creates momentum and fast breaks, and I thought was able to get out a couple of times and make a good pass or receive a good pass and get to the free throw line, crash the boards a little bit, hit some open 3s – you know, all the things that I’m good at.” Just about the only thing she can’t do is dunk. Oh, wait a minute.
And check out this paragraph, via Pastuszek again:
A four-year UCONN standout, Moore completed what is arguably the most dominant run in modern day women’s hoops history, leading the Lady Huskies to a record 90 straight wins and two NCAA national championships from 2008-2011. Inside that period, she set the record for most points in UCONN history, notched four straight AP First Team All-American Team selections (only the second player to do that in NCAA history, men or women), won three National Player of the Year awards and set the all-time NCAA total wins mark with 150. If there’s something we missed, our apologies in advance, as the list could go on for just about forever times infinity.
How did this happen? In one word: money. According to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune in June:
But the Flame offered Moore a nice contract. Moore said is was “significantly more than double her rookie contract,” which was just under $47,000 last year.
Moore also said:
China was a great opportunity, a new frontier. They are starting to develop more and more teams that will bring in some foreigners — we are foreigners now — over there. I think I can take advantage of a lot of things on the court and off the court.
We have no doubt Moore will take advantage of opportunities as it relates to sponsorships — she’s the first female signed with Jordan Brand — and personal adventure, but it bears repeating: she’s earning “significantly more than double” what she made two seasons ago in the foremost women’s basketball league in the world. We’re just happy to see that here, in China, she will finally be compensated according to her abilities.
In case you’ve forgotten, the defending WCBA champions are right here in Beijing. Their reign might be in jeopardy.
(Sixty may be a reach. If Bayi’s smart, it’ll put two defenders on Maya and play 3 vs. 4 against the rest of the Flame.)
UPDATE, 11/4, 10:23 pm: Moore “only” scored 37 points in a 72-59 win over previously unbeaten Bayi. She added 17 rebounds, 5 assists and 4 steals.