Maya Moore to sit out 2nd WNBA season in row

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Maya Moore will sit out a second consecutive WNBA season and has taken herself out of consideration for the Olympics so she can push for the prison release of a Missouri man who she believes is innocent, she told the New York Times.

That man, 39-year-old Jonathan Irons, is serving a 50-year prison sentence for a conviction of burglary and assault of a man in his home with a weapon. Moore first met Irons in 2017 when she visited the Jefferson City Correctional Center, where he is an inmate.

“I’m in a really good place right now with my life, and I don’t want to change anything,” Moore told The New York Times in a telephone interview this week. “Basketball has not been foremost in my mind. I’ve been able to rest, and connect with people around me, actually be in their presence after all of these years on the road. And I’ve been able to be there for Jonathan.”

Irons was 16 at the time of the incident. The homeowner testified that Irons was the person that assaulted him, but Irons’ lawyers say there is no evidence (witness, fingerprints, footprints, DNA) to corroborate that their client committed the crime. Irons, an African-American who was living in poverty, was tried as an adult and the all-white jury found him guilty.

Moore, 30, told the newspaper that she is not retired, despite her decision to sit out a second straight WNBA season.

“I don’t feel like this is the right time for me to retire,” she told The Times. “Retirement is something that is a big deal and there is a right way to do it well, and this is not the time for me.”

The United States national team said it supports Moore’s decision.

“We are going to miss Maya tremendously, but we also respect her decision,” Carol Callan, director of the U.S. national team said, according to the newspaper. “A player of Maya’s ability does not walk away from the gym lightly. Everyone feels it. The thing that makes her so special is her approach, her dedication, which has always been contagious for our team. We know how devoted she is to what she believes in, and that what she is doing is remarkable.”

Moore was the first overall pick in the 2011 draft. With Moore, the went to the WNBA Finals six times. Last season, without her, the Lynx finished 18-16 and were the seventh seed in the postseason, losing to the Storm in the first round.

Moore was the WNBA Rookie of the Year in 2011, the league MVP in 2014 and a five-time All-Star. She has caeer averages of 18.4 points, 5.9 rebounds and 3.3 assists.

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