Maya Moore provided the example, reigning league MVP Nneka Ogwumike gladly followed along, and Sue Bird received the attention and recognition she deserved.
Those veterans on the West roster knew exactly how to turn the first WNBA All-Star Game in Seattle into a showcase.
“I thought it was a great game, a great pace,” Moore said. “You don’t want anybody to get hurt, but you also want to play with a certain intensity to show off your athleticism, and I thought we were able to do that.”
Moore scored 23 points, Ogwumike added 22 points off the bench and the West outlasted the East 130-121 on Saturday. Most of the focus was on Bird, a 10-time All-Star playing in front of her home crowd.
The veteran West squad, with 55 total All-Star Game selections on its roster, pulled away after a close first half. Moore made nine of 17 shots, including five three-pointers, while Ogwumike made 11 of 15 attempts. Bird had a hand in many of those baskets, finishing with a game-record 11 assists and eight points.
Moore was named the game’s MVP for the second consecutive All-Star Game.
Two of Moore’s Lynx teammates also scored in double figures. Sylvia Fowles had 13 points and seven rebounds while Rebekkah Brunson had 12 points and three rebounds. Seimone Augustus added four points, meaning the four Lynx in the game combined for 52 points.
No matter what Moore, Ogwumike or East standout Jonquel Jones did in the game, it was secondary to Bird, who welcomed the All-Star Game to her adopted hometown for the first time in her record-tying 10th All-Star Game appearance.
Bird received the loudest ovations as she was introduced. But she seemed more interested in involving others than trying to take control of the game. Bird regularly bypassed her own shot to provide layup chances for Moore, Ogwumike, Candace Parker and others.
Competitiveness started to emerge late as the East tried to rally from a 12-point fourth-quarter deficit, but Bird’s wide-open three-pointer with 4:05 left pushed the West’s lead back to 11.
The youthful East was led by Jones with a game-high 24 points, including a dunk in the final minute. There were eight first-time selections on the East roster, but Jones clearly was the most impressive.
The event brought out the royalty of Seattle basketball, including Hall of Famers Bill Russell and Lenny Wilkens.
“I had chills when Bill Russell was up on the screen and I saw how close he was sitting to us,” West coach Cheryl Reeve of the Lynx said.
The West’s 130 points tied the record for the most in a game.