The WNBA thrived in the 2010s because of the everyday, enduring efforts of talented, engaging women’s basketball players. On their own steam, with neither sufficient marketing nor adequate financial investment, the players proved that women’s professional basketball is here to stay. As the decade winds to a close, we reflect on the players who made the biggest impact both on and off the court.
Here are the 10 best WNBA players of the 2010s:
1. Maya Moore (Minnesota Lynx)
Honors, achievements and numbers of note in the 2010s: 4x WNBA champion, 2014 MVP, 2013 Finals MVP, 7x All-WNBA Team, 2x All-Defensive Team, 6x All-Star, 6x top 5 in win shares, 2011 Rookie of the Year
It is interesting that Minnesota Lynx wing Maya Moore, quite possibly the best WNBA player of the last decade, sat out all of last season and, on the whole, she was not all that missed. Yes, Lynx fans would have loved to see Moore go to work with Napheesa Collier, her fellow Jefferson City, Missouri native. But Moore’s season-long absence did not hang over the Lynx’s, or the league’s, 2019 season.
So, how could someone so quietly sit out the a season yet still be the best player of the decade?
Her on-court resume in unimpeachable, bolstered by a quartet of championships. Yet, an evaluation of one’s importance must also consider how and why one’s game inspires and intrigues. This is why the aforementioned Diana Taurasi (No. 2) widely is proclaimed the GOAT. Moore, for all her greatness, has never captured the women’s basketball zeitgeist to that degree. Her game has earned her much respect, confirmed by her becoming the first woman to score a shoe contract with Jordan Brand. But she does not resonate as widely or as deeply as some of her contemporaries.
Her excellence, instead, became quotidian, expected and ordinary, even though it was undeniably extraordinary.
Or, maybe the frequency of her success is the surest sign of her greatness? And, just maybe, this is how Moore wants it?
She has chosen to live the somewhat overused mantra, “more (or Moore) than an athlete.” Guided by her faith, Moore decided to step away from the game and dedicate herself to criminal justice reform, specifically seeking justice for the wrongly-incarcerated Jonathan Irons.
Moore is modeling the power and passion that we want our athletes to possess, using her platform to push for larger, sustainable progress. As she wrote in The Players’ Tribune, “There are different ways to measure success.”
Over the past decade, both on the court and off, Moore has measured up.