And the MVP award doesn’t go to…
By Bridget O’Donnell
She’s been widely hailed as the “the best women’s [basketball] player on this planet.” But American Maya Moore, who averaged 41.5 points, 12.5 rebounds, 6.2 assists and 5 steals per game during the Women’s Chinese Basketball Association (WCBA) finals, wasn’t named MVP after leading the Shanxi Flame to their first championship title last night.
Instead, the award went to Moore’s teammate Wu Jinzhu, who averaged just 6 points, 4 rebounds and 7 assists in the Flame’s 3-1 series win over the Zhejiang Golden Bulls.
Li Yuanwei, former chief of the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA), criticized the WCBA on Weibo yesterday. He blamed “oudated” rules for the snub — league regulations stipulate that foreign-born players aren’t allowed to be named MVP.
“Why can’t we rate the foreign players? The rules are outdated!” he wrote.
The rule against foreign MVPs doesn’t just apply to the women’s league; Stephon Marbury was similarly denied MVP honors after leading the Beijing Ducks to their first CBA championship earlier last year.
Li has been outspoken about basketball programs in China in the past. In 2010, he published heavy criticisms in his autobiography Lantanfengyunlu (which roughly translates to “Bumpy ride in Basketball.”)
The Weibo account for Sina Basketball News was also critical the WCBA’s decision, calling Wu “the MVP of a league that never played the best players.” (Ouch).
“No matter how good [Moore] is, she can’t get the MVP award,” read another post.
Moore, an Olympic gold medalist, two-time NCAA champion, WNBA champion, European League champion and, oh yeah, the first woman to ever sign an endorsement deal with the Jordan Brand, averaged 38.6 points per game during the regular season. Though it was speculated that her missed appearance at this year’s WCBA All-Star game last month was also due to a snub, NiuBBall reports that it was actually an injury that held her back.
Moore’s MVP snub isn’t the first controversy of this year’s rollercoaster WCBA finals. After fans attacked referees at the conclusion of Game 1, the league imposed harsh restrictions on the Golden Bulls, banning the team from playing at their home arena in Yiwu for a full year. The ban was effective immediately, and Zhejiang was forced to host Shanxi at a new location in Hangzhou for Game 4.
This year’s finals weren’t just a matchup between the league’s two best teams — they also featured a primetime showdown between the league’s two best players: Moore and Aussie superstar Elizabeth Cambage.
Moore seems to have remained upbeat. Here’s what she tweeted following last night’s win:
— Maya Moore (@MooreMaya) February 5, 2013