Maya Moore leaving mark on Chinese basketball


Maya Moore leaving mark on Chinese basketball

Maya Moore has excelled everywhere she's played, winning championships from college to the WNBA and Europe. Now she's leaving her mark on the Chinese women's basketball league.

Averaging 45 points a game for the Shanxi Flame, Moore has helped bring new fans to the women's game in a basketball crazed nation.

``They show maybe five NBA games a week here,'' Moore told The Associated Press in a phone interview. ``They get a good amount of coverage and people love it. We are starting to get a little more interest about our game.''

The NBA long has seen China as a place for huge growth.

It was evident at the Beijing Olympics in 2008 with the basketball games sold out and the contest between the U.S. men and China having nearly 100 million viewers. With Europe still feeling the effects of the financial downturn, China's competitive salaries and shorter season have made it one of the top destinations for the world's elite women basketball players.

The former UConn star is earning mid-six figures, which is on a par with European salaries. While most European leagues go from October to May, China only plays till February. This will give Moore time to rest before the Minnesota Lynx open training camp in May. It also will provide the young face of women's basketball the opportunity to participate at the NBA All-Star game in February and be around for the women's Final Four.

Besides Moore, the talent is improving throughout the league. Tamika Catchings, Elizabeth Cambage, Sophia Young and Jayne Appel are all playing this year. Swin Cash has played there in the past.

``I think it's been a good introduction for a lot of the fans seeing some of the Olympic level women over here,'' Moore said. ``To see the talent it's been I think very surprising thing for the fans. Interest will continue to spark more of a demand for players and the basketball level will rise. This area of the world will continue to want basketball even more, elevating that market.''

The WNBA has taken notice of the recent boom in China.

``We know the sport of basketball is on the rise in China and the WNBA has already had great success on the international stage,'' WNBA President Laurel Richie said. ``I am really encouraged that there are now many more millions of people around the globe - including China - who know what the WNBA is all about. We've exposed more people to the game, to the players, to the story both on and off the court ... and this will only help grow our league both domestically and abroad.''

While Moore has definitely brought interest with her play, Catchings has tried to mentor her teammates.

``I think my approach is probably different then the approach of some of the younger players,'' Catchings said in an e-mail to The Associated Press. ``I feel like my job is to teach my teammates how I play and how to have fun doing it.''

It didn't take long for Moore to endear herself to her new team. Moore, the first woman basketball player to be signed by the Jordan brand, gave a pair of yellow and red sneakers to each of her teammates.

Then she started playing and the team only has lost once since. Moore introduced herself to the Chinese fans almost immediately with a 60-point performance in her third game, which just happened to be nationally televised.

``The game was against one of the army teams,'' Moore said. ``They don't have a foreigner and they are very prideful. The first quarter I was in a zone feeling good. I hit seven 3's in the first quarter. It gave me a jump start on the 60.''

Moore was hard-pressed to remember ever scoring close to that before. She had 48 in high school and 48 was her college best.

Connecticut and Olympic coach Geno Auriemma wasn't surprised by his former star's success.

``Maya is Maya,'' he said. ``Her scoring that many points isn't a real shock. She can really do whatever she wants.''

Basketball has been the easy part for Moore since coming over to China. Communicating with teammates has taken a little more work with up to four languages being spoken in team huddles.

``It's pretty comical,'' Moore said laughing. ``I speak English, one of my teammates is Korean. That's two languages. Two of our coaches are Spanish - one is the Spanish national team head coach. The first couple days I was there my head was spinning.''

On the court, there don't seem to be many communication issues. The team uses hand signals, numbers, and Moore said she learned some basic words to get through.

``I'm getting better, I know about 10 words so far, I'm learning new ones every day,'' she said.

Moore also has a personal assistant assigned by the team to help her with basics like grocery shopping and getting around.

``I think the success to your playing overseas really relies heavily on your translator and how well the team is able to help you adjust to them and being in a foreign country,'' said Catchings, who also has spent time playing in Korea. ``It's definitely an adjustment. Your team and the organization becomes your family while you are over here.''

Moore, who played in Spain last winter, also has had the benefit of having her mom with her. She came over in October and has spent most of the first two months in China, including Thanksgiving. The two have been put up in a ``western-style'' hotel for the four-month season.

``It's really been great having her around and she'll be here for Christmas,'' Moore said. ``She's experiencing China herself.''

Among the things Moore has learned to appreciate while being in China are some of the freedom she has in the U.S.

``It's kind of hard not having unrestricted Internet,'' she said. ``There's certain things you can't view. Certain liberties you don't have. YouTube, Twitter, things like that. There are certain social medial sites. You're so used to having access to whatever we need. It's different that way.''


Follow Doug Feinberg on Twitter athttp://www.twitter.com/dougfeinberg

Quick Links

Scott Brooks, Ramon Sessions hoping for best with Tyronn Lue's health issues

USA Today Sports Images

Scott Brooks, Ramon Sessions hoping for best with Tyronn Lue's health issues

As a fellow NBA head coach, Scott Brooks understands what Tyronn Lue of the Cleveland Cavaliers is going through. As his former teammate, Ramon Sessions knows how tough Lue is.

Both members of the Wizards shared their reactions after Monday's practice to the news Lue is stepping away from the Cavs to deal with a health issue. Both expressed hope Lue will not be out long as the NBA continues its trek towards the playoffs.

"All of our thoughts are with him," Brooks said. "You hope that it's nothing serious. Health is the most important [thing]. The game is secondary."


"Prayers out to T-Lue," said Sessions, who played with Lue in Milwaukee. "It's one of those things where you've gotta take care of yourself at the end of the day. Him stepping away is the best thing."

Lue's illness has been a mystery to doctors, according to a statement he released on the Cavaliers' website. He has dealt with chest pains and other symptoms while also struggling to sleep. The hope is that having time off will allow him to get the rest he needs.


Brooks knows firsthand how difficult it is to get sleep during the regular season as a coach.

"You just have to figure out ways to get your rest. Some days are better than others. Sometimes you think after a good win you can have a good night's rest or sometimes it's the opposite. It's just hard to get rest. You're traveling in different timezones. You are emotional after games. You eat late. There are a lot of factors that go into it. We don't have a set schedule every night. I have a good staff and I rely on them," he said.

Lue, 40, will be replaced by associate head coach Larry Drew in the interim. The Cavs happen to be in a tight playoff race with the Wizards and other teams in the Eastern Conference battling for position.

NBC Sports Washington is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Quick Links

Redskins add another ex-Cowboy as they sign CB Orlando Scandrick

USA Today Sports Images

Redskins add another ex-Cowboy as they sign CB Orlando Scandrick

The Redskins seem to love former Cowboys. They signed another one today.

Mike Garafolo of NFL Media is reporting that Washington has agreed to terms with cornerback Orlando Scandrick. The early numbers put the contract at up to $10 million over two years.

Scandrick, 31, has played for the Cowboys since they made him a fifth-round pick in the 2008 draft. In nine seasons in the league, Scandrick has eight interceptions and seven forced fumbles.

He has been plagued by injuries the last three years. Scandrick was out for the entire 2015 season with a torn ACL. In 2016 he missed four games with a hamstring injury and he finished last season on injured reserve with a back injury. Whether his struggles last year were due to injuries or age remains to be seen.

Scandrick joins Nosh Norman, Quinton Dunbar, Fabian Moreau, and Josh Holsey at cornerback for the Redskins. Holsey is the only natural slot corner in the group and he played very sparingly as a rookie last year. Scandrick likely will fill the slot role until Holsey is ready.

We will see what the signing costs in terms of salary cap impact when we see the details of the contract. The phrase “up to” generally means that there are incentives included in the deal so we will have to see.

In recent years, the Redskins have signed former Cowboys defensive linemen Stephen Bowen, Jason Hatcher, and Terrell McClain.


Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.