Maya Moore scored 53 points and grabbed 13 rebounds in Game 1 of the WBCA finals yesterday. Whatever superlatives you want to append to that statement, feel free to do so, but I’ll just write this again: 53 points, 13 rebounds. This is where the focus should be: a remarkable individual effort from the world’s best female basketball player on Chinese professional basketball’s biggest stage. Imagine if LeBron James went for 53 in the NBA finals (or CBA finals, to complete the analogy). You’d want 800 words about that, right? Moore’s Shanxi beat Zhejiang 96-92 to grab a 1-0 lead in the best-of-five series.
This is not the main story, however.
After the game, Zhejiang fans — who just watched their team lose at home for the first time all season — spilled onto the court and intercepted the referees. One female ref managed to duck into the back before everyone else, but two male refs were surrounded and beaten. In the video, it doesn’t look like they took any serious blows, thankfully. Security was sparse, which seems like an awful oversight considering we see rowdy Chinese basketball fans do stuff like this much too often. Eventually, the refs are smuggled off the court, pursued by still-angry fans.
What do we say about this incident? An embarrassment? A shame? It’s lucky that no one jumped on the court and assaulted someone while the game was happening, but is it really a stretch to imagine this happening in the future? The hell of it is, the solution is simple: add more security. That’s it. Three guards can’t fend off a dozen rowdy spectators, but you know what? One dozen guards could!
For the purpose of the highest of high-profile matchups the league may ever get, it’ll be worth it. You already know Moore was doing her thing, but on the other side was Liz Cambage, i.e. the first female to ever dunk in an Olympics basketball game. She’s fairly unstoppable as well — her 35.3 points per game average this season was second only to Moore’s 38.1 ppg. And yesterday, she scored 38 points on efficient 11-for-16 shooting (16-for-17 FTs) before fouling out — perhaps it was this that incited the home crowd.
The WCBA has issued a public apology to the referees and promised to punish those responsible.
Meanwhile, the series shifts to Shanxi for games 2 and 3. By the way, the first time Moore (of the WNBA’s Minnesota Lynx) played Cambage (of the Tulsa Shock) in China, they scored 53 and 49, respectively. You should watch tomorrow’s game — for the basketball, we mean.
UPDATE, 2/1, 10 am: Zhejiang is not allowed to play in its home city for one year.
Pictures via Sina: