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Have We Seen the Last of Maya Moore?

(image credit: screenshot from Good Morning America on YouTube)

For the third year in a row, Maya Moore won’t be taking the floor in the WNBA. After stepping away from the basketball court during the last two years, the Minnesota Lynx star will carry that into 2021 announced on Good Morning America that she won’t be playing during the upcoming season as she continues to focus on life outside of basketball.

Moore and her husband Jonathan Irons, whom she helped free from prison last year after it was confirmed he was charged for a crime he did not commit, sat down with Good Morning America co-anchor Robin Roberts on Wednesday to talk about the couple’s life together, what they have been up to since Irons was freed from prison, and what is next for the newlyweds.

Near the end of the interview, Roberts also asked Moore what her plans were for a potential return to the Lynx. The WNBA Champion and former league MVP gave an answer similar to one she’s given the last two offseasons: she will be sitting out the upcoming season.

“This journey has been quite wild, so I’m still trying to take that time to really get settled,” Moore said during the interview. “I’m still planning on taking some rest and really just leaning into this season of enjoying Jonathan and having this full year.”

Following the 2018 season, Moore shocked the sports world when she announced she would be taking some time off from basketball to focus on Irons’ case and other social justice issues.

Moore and Irons saw their hard work pay off last July when he was freed from prison after more than 22 years. Irons was sentenced to 50 years in prison in 1997 after being wrongfully charged with burglary and assault. Moore and Irons grew close during that time, which was one reason the WNBA star decided to put her playing career on hold to help him and others. 

With Irons now out and the two recently married, many people thought Moore might return to the hardwood to resume her Hall of Fame career in the WNBA. But now we know that won’t happen next year. Now you have to wonder if it will happen at all.

When it comes to succeeding on the court, few in basketball history have matched Moore. She garnered endless accolades at both in high school and college before carrying that success over to the WNBA, where she played six seasons with the Lynx.

As the top pick in the 2011 Draft, Moore has helped Minnesota win four championships and earning personal awards such as the 2011 Rookie of the Year, the 2013 Finals MVP, and the 2014 WNBA MVP. She made the All-Star team six times. With that success, the Lynx faithful and WNBA fans expected Moore her already legendary career to continue for years to come. But in 2019, at age 29, she surprised everyone when she put her career on hold at its peak to focus on life away from the game.

In a few seasons, fans around the league and sports landscape have gone from enjoying watching Moore in a Lynx uniform to now wondering if they will ever see No. 23 ever again.

Moore could still return to the WNBA as soon as 2022 if she wanted to, but it’s becoming increasingly likely that it wouldn’t be in Minnesota if she did. From the Lynx’s perspective, it’s come to the point where they have to wonder if they would like to wait for Moore to make a final decision. Even if she wanted to come back and play for them, you also wonder how taking three seasons off might impact her game.

Moore is set to turn 32 years old in June, meaning she would likely have a few seasons remaining before her career comes to a close. Of course, if a future Hall of Fame talent like Moore had a desire to play again, some team would be willing to give her at least that opportunity. But Minnesota has undergone a roster overhaul since she last donned a Lynx uniform, and the organization has committed to recent free agents and some younger players who will be key pieces on their roster moving forward.

We still don’t know what Moore’s ultimate decision will be. But given that this is her third season away from the game and that it appears she is happy with her life outside of basketball, it’s growing more and more likely that she may never return.

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