Impact 10:No. 7 Maya Moore
Every dynasty has its centerpiece player: Joe Montana for the San Francisco 49ers, Tom Brady for the New England Patriots, Michael Jordan for the Chicago Bulls, Derek Jeter for the New York Yankees.
Maya Moore for the Minnesota Lynx. It has a certain ring to it. Actually, two rings. Three years into her WNBA career, Moore has three trips to the WNBA Finals under her belt and two championships.
On a Lynx team that boasts four Olympians -- Moore, Lindsay Whalen, Seimone Augustus and Rebekkah Brunson -- Moore has become Minnesota's defining player. She is, in simplest terms, a winner, with a trail of championship trophies following her wherever she goes. She's also on her way to becoming one of the league's all-time greats, a versatile talent with terrific offensive skills and poise to spare.
"She's a great young talent that everybody knew at some point she was going to blossom into the player that we saw this year," said Augustus.
Off the court, Moore is humble, devout and incredibly smart -- she considered applying to be a Rhodes Scholar while at Connecticut. On the floor she's confident and entirely focused, the essence of calm, cool and collected, and the owner of one of the sweetest shots in women's basketball.
Moore has quickly become one of the WNBA's biggest names, one that resonates in the mainstream sports universe. And she's very good at collecting titles, a trait that endears her to any sports fan.
Moore won three state championships as a high school star in Georgia, two NCAA championships at Connecticut and an Olympic gold medal in London in 2012.
The 24-year-old Lawrenceville, Ga., native always seemed destined for stardom. She arrived at Connecticut as one of the most hotly pursued high school recruits of all time and then lived up to the expectations by churning out four All-American seasons and leading the Huskies to a pair of titles.
When Moore was drafted by the Minnesota Lynx as their No. 1 pick in 2011, there was no doubt it was a franchise-changing moment.
Suddenly, the Lynx went from struggling to make the playoffs in the tough Western Conference to being the league's most successful team.
Moore has found her place in the professional game over the past three years, starting as a rookie with a role to play -- she was named Rookie of the Year in 2011 -- to becoming a go-to offensive player and a leader on a team that's already full of them.
No coincidence then that Minnesota has finished with the league's best regular-season record in each of the past three seasons.
Moore averaged 18.5 points a game in the 2013 season, shooting better than 50 percent from the floor. She won her second title in three pro seasons in front of family and friends in Georgia in October when Minnesota swept Atlanta. She scored 23 points in the title-clinching game.
Moore was named the most valuable player in the 2013 Finals after losing out to Candace Parker for regular-season MVP in the closest vote in league history.
"The trophy is always my first priority," Moore said after the title game. "I wanted to make sure I was doing my job for my teammates and somehow that ended up with me getting the MVP."
Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said she knew back in 2011 that the opportunity to bring Moore to Minnesota was "special." But Moore has exceeded her expectations.
"What she did for our team when she got here was that she gave us that work ethic, that confidence that she expected to win," Reeve said after the WNBA Finals. "And she was key for our team because she's so humble, so she's the type of superstar that fit in well with our group, so we were so fortunate that it worked out the way that it did."