If these were the credentials of any NBA player, we’d be talking about building a statue in their image in every arena across the country. When Michael Jordan was 26 years old, he was still trying to figure out how to beat the Detroit Pistons and Boston Celtics. When LeBron James was 26 years old, he was labeled a choke artist with two loses in the NBA Finals. Kobe Bryant had three rings by the time he was 26 years old, but some people would credit Shaquille O’Neal as the driving force behind those three championships. It’s like we’re talking about a modern day Bill Russell. And it took Russell a long damn time before he got a statue.

So how long before we start talking about Maya Moore in the same company as the guys? She’s even got a game-winner in the Finals like MJ…

The obvious answer to that question is “too soon.” Unlike her NBA counterparts, Moore still has a good long career to go before it’s all said and done. And then there’s her pretty good resume overseas that we haven’t talked about, which includes championships wins in Euroleague, Spain and China. So we’ll table the talk about her place among the great winners in basketball – not to mention the gender politics in play – for another time. But is she well on her way to becoming Jordan Brand’s greatest athlete? Yup…

One of the first things I ever wrote for Kicks On Fire was a list in 2012 of the greatest Jordan Brand athletes of all-time. The thinking behind the list was not just to name the guys who had the best player exclusives – although that was part of the criteria – but we also wanted to highlight the athletes who won and did their part to best represent Jordan Brand. It’s the reason why we (spoiler alert) gave Ray Allen the top spot instead of somebody like Mike Bibby, who didn’t even make the list; Allen had the killer player exclusives to go along with his success on the court. The mere mention of his name is instant gravitas to anybody that is a student of the game.

Back in 2012, we named Maya Moore as the 14th greatest Jordan Brand athlete, just ahead of Darius Miles. Now this is where the dichotomy between sneakerheads and sports fans is most obvious. A sports fan would see that list and agree that Moore is greater than Miles based solely on her record on the court even though she had only been a pro for barely a year by that point. A sneakerhead would lose their mind (and they did when that list first came out) and argue Moore doesn’t deserve to be on that list because her kicks at the time were Jordan Fly Wades – a fate worse than death – while Miles had an amazing run of retros.

Flash forward to 2015 and it’s safe to say we were justified in putting Moore ahead of Miles and now their respective PE games are a little more even. In fact, Moore has been climbing the ladder while showing off more heat than most of her male counterparts at Jordan Brand. Now she has the accomplishments, she has been nothing but class throughout her career, and since this is a sneaker blog, her Jordan sneaker game has been nothing but fire emojis.

Let’s see, an Air Jordan 11, two pairs of XX3s, an Air Jordan 10, one of her many Air Jordan XX8 PEs and a Air Jordan 1 PE that dropped at retail recently. That’s an amazing stash befitting of a champion and I know for a fact that the ladies (and the guys) would line up and down the block if those 11s and XX3s in the Minnesota Lynx colors dropped in stores.

In the three years since that list first came out, there has been plenty of movement up and down as years passed and reputations change. Chris Paul was just ahead of Moore in 2012, but his legend has grown enormously as he has consistently lead the Los Angeles Clippers to the playoffs. Relative newcomer Kawhi Leonard already has a championship with the San Antonio Spurs and his Air Jordan 6 “The Claw” player exclusive is some of Jordan Brand’s best work in years. Dwyane Wade, Roy Jones and Carmelo Anthony are slowly fading from memory as their time with Jordan Brand is becoming forgotten. Much like any list of the greatest Air Jordans, the true constants have been the OGs like Eddie Jones, Randy Moss, Derek Jeter and of course, Ray Allen.

So let’s assume that Maya Moore just keeps winning. Like Bill Russell winning where she just accumulates enough hardware to fill up an entire museum wing. And for the sake of argument, let’s say her Jordan player exclusive game just keeps getting better. I can see her reaching as high as number 3 and then hitting a potential roadblock because Derek Jeter and Ray Allen are practically sacred cows in the Jordan Brand pantheon at this point. It’s not an impossible task, but it will take her basically becoming this generation’s Serena Williams (not that I’m saying Serena is old but… damn, I hope Serena isn’t reading this… crap…) to leapfrog over Jeter and Allen. Hopefully we’ve got the next decade or so to see her try and pull it off. We know this guy Moore took a picture with will be watching closely. Probably because he’s wondering if he can offer her a Charlotte Hornets contract because his team sucks, but still…

(Via Kicks On Fire)

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