This Magazine Cover Is A Milestone For Women's Basketball. Here’s Why That’s A Problem.

“I try to be really careful about getting caught up in competing with men.”

SLAM, the magazine largely considered the bible of the basketball world, just reached a major milestone: having its second female athlete on the cover. Minnesota Lynx all-star Maya Moore holds that major honor, achieving it exactly two decades after the first, Chamique Holdsclaw, did so when gracing the cover back in 1998.

This is something to celebrate, sure, but it's surprising that it has taken so long, too, given the amount of talent within women's college and professional basketball.

It's obvious why Moore would be the one to cover SLAM. After all, she has many achievements already at the age of 29: two NCAA championships with the University of Connecticut, two Olympic championships with gold medals to match, and four WNBA championships with her Lynx teammates, just to name a few. Plus, Moore is the only woman representing Michael Jordan's legendary brand.

"So along with my faith and my mom, basketball was my constant," Moore told the magazine. "I was a kid who loved to play, which is the beautiful part of my story. I have a high achieving personality. I would just play until I got tired and went inside — and generally it was my mom yelling at me to come inside."

"I want to be feminine and I want to be respected as a strong female," Moore explained, calling attention to the power that female players in the basketball world have, even though they're often overshadowed by their male counterparts.

"I try to be really careful about getting caught up in competing with men. I think there's a depth to what guys do and a depth to what women do. I think one of the more obvious ones is that we have the ability to compete with each other. You hear me? Not against. With each other," Moore added. "Obviously, there's similarities. We're athletic, we're strong, women are physical specimens. We have strength and athleticism — it's not the same level as a guy, and that's OK, but what I can be respected for is my way to connect with people, or my strength in overcoming adversity. But if you don't talk about that as being valuable, people overlook those little things that really are strength."

Off the court — in addition to being a role model for young girls with each assist completed and basket made — Moore has started an awareness initiative called Win With Justice. This project seeks to educate people about the justice system, the inequities of it, and how folks can help fix the broken system.

"My identity is not limited to being the best basketball player," Moore said, noting that she holds her identity as a Christian above all else. "Or even just being Black. I mean, I am a Black woman, and I own that. I try just to do as much as I can to live an authentic life and point people to truth. And being authentic means admitting when I don't know. And admitting that I could've been better. And admitting I want to be better if I can."

(H/T: Twitter)

Cover image: Keeton Gale / Shutterstock.com

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