Maya Moore and Jordan Brand: What it Means for Women’s Basketball
A huge step in the right direction.
In fact, the ROI could be instantaneous.
Rather than argue and debate over why it took this long to sign a female basketball player to the brand, we should focus on what this means to the future of the game both on and off the court.
The most obvious?
PEOPLE CARE ABOUT WOMEN’S BASKETBALL.
It will be hard for the haters to knock the women’s game when the G.O.A.T. has this to say about Moore and, in essence, the women’s game as a whole:
“I am thrilled to welcome Maya Moore into the Jordan Brand,” Michael Jordan, the NBA star who inspired the athletic clothes and shoes line said. “Not only has Maya proven to be a prolific winner on the court, but her hunger and determination to make an impact off the court makes her a valuable addition to the Jordan family. We look forward to working with Maya as she carries her success to the next level.”
This must be killing the detractors and naysayers. Whether they like to admit it or not, there’s little doubt that women’s basketball is on the rise and Maya Moore is the perfect ambassador for both the game itself and the Jordan Brand. Moore was the back-to-back national player of the year prior to being selected No. 1 overall by the Minnesota Lynx in the 2011 WNBA Draft. Moore’s UConn squad had a record of 150-4 over her career, including an NCAA-record 90-game winning streak.
For those who have completely written off the women’s game, the alignment of Maya Moore with the Jordan Brand provides an immense boost to the credibility of the sport. Michael Jordan, the greatest basketball player the world has ever seen, has essentially given his endorsement not just to Moore but also to the future of women’s basketball by bringing her on board. Truth be told, the game ultimately doesn’t (and will never) need Jordan’s stamp of approval to be validated but there’s no denying the impact it could have on the growth of the game, especially in kids and young adults.
Progress is progress. This is precisely what the women’s game needs and it couldn’t have come at a better time.
Maya Moore signing with Jordan Brand isn’t as much about a shoe as it is about awareness. Those of us who grew up in the ’80′s and ’90′s remember how significant the Jordan Brand was to the explosion of the NBA on a global basis. We bought the shoes. Saw the videos. We rallied around the aura of Jordan himself. He inspired others and generated an entirely new following for the game.
Conversely, we haven’t necessarily seen that same type of commitment to a WNBA star. That’s not to say there hasn’t been phenomenal players to choose from; Diana Taurasi, Sheryl Swoopes, Cynthia Cooper, Tamika Catchings, and Candace Parker (to name a few) all would’ve made the Jordan Brand proud.
So, why Maya Moore? Why now?
Without getting into politics, the short answer is timing. The Jordan Brand, and seemingly all of America, see the limitless potential in Moore as a player and icon for the sport. She embodies the pure spirit of the game. She’s as humble as they come. She understands and accepts her position as a role model for young women. She could’ve been a Rhodes scholar. Needless to say, a complete package like Maya Moore certainly doesn’t come around very often.
Female athletes sign endorsement deals all the time. But the fact is a deal of this magnitude from such a high-profile brand is unprecedented for a women’s professional basketball player. Additionally, you won’t have to worry about Maya Moore becoming bigger than the women’s game; the great part about signing Moore is that she is as unselfish a human being as you’ll ever find.
Moore won’t make this about her; she’ll consciously work to make this about women’s basketball. She’ll utilize the notoriety and stature of the Jordan Brand to create and promote awareness for the women’s game.
Perhaps the most significant aspect regarding this news is the precedent it sets. What’s next? Or, more importantly, who’s next? Will this lead to more sponsorships for players? What other companies follow suit?
The WNBA doesn’t need the Jordan Brand (or prominent male athletes, for that matter) to validate it. The league stands on its own and features the best women’s basketball players in the world. And let’s stop asking if a WNBA player could ever play in the NBA; sure, it could happen, but it doesn’t need to. As I’ve said before, the only thing wrong with women’s basketball is that people think there is something wrong with it.
Make no mistake about it; Jordan Brand wouldn’t sign Maya Moore if they believed the WNBA was stagnant or stale. Furthermore, investing in Moore is a testament to how far the league has come and how much upside it has. A new era of women’s basketball begins in 2011 and the anticipation has never been greater.
This is a major step in the right direction for women’s basketball. And while a deal like Moore’s with Jordan Brand is long overdue, we have to start somewhere.
Kudos, Maya. You’re the perfect woman for the job.