Maya Moore’s “Wings” billboard has been a huge hit, especially locally. But perhaps its most lasting impact will be on four-year-old Liliana Sikakane.
The giant billboard, modeled after a 1983 Michael Jordan poster, was erected outside the downtown Minneapolis arena and unveiled May 20, the day of the Minnesota Lynx 2018 season opener. It is part of a promotional campaign launched by Nike of Moore’s new shoe brand. An accompanying video also premiered that features footage of Moore’s pro career along with childhood home videos of her.
Sikakane and her father saw the billboard after the contest, and he took a photo of her posing in front of Moore’s larger-than-life image. He later posted the photo and it went viral on social media.
The Lynx last week invited the little girl to a team practice, where Liliana met in person her new shero and got an individual lesson from Moore. Moore also signed the poster for her new fan and had a photo taken with both of them reenacting the iconic pose.
“Do you have a sister Liliana?” – Liliana’s friend
“My sister is Maya Moore. She has wings like this (strikes wings pose).” – Liliana
— Justice P. Sikakane, Sr ?? (@justicesikakane) June 2, 2018
“Having those moments with Liliana for the last 48 hours has been super sweet,” Moore told the MSR last Friday. “To engage with her in that way, and to hear her story and her family’s story of experiencing the women’s game this way, and to do it at the same time in such an iconic campaign with Wings is just a real cool celebration of the women’s game.”
Moore signed with Nike in 2011 when she was the WNBA’s overall top draft pick, and was the first female to sign with the company’s Jordan Brand. Years earlier, Sheryl Swoopes became the first female ever to have a Nike shoe named after her. Moore’s shoe came out in 2015.
“It was unreal to be a part of the iconic Wings campaign,” Moore said. “I just love everything it is about.”
When asked if she was surprised by the reaction to the billboard campaign, which also appeared in Los Angeles and New York, “I am not,” Moore replied. “I think it is doing exactly what it should be doing. When you put that much of an investment creatively on the court as what I am doing, with Michael’s legacy and the timing of launching it [and] the high level and quality of the piece, I think people are appreciating it and are excited [about it].
“People are eating it up, and I am happy,” Moore said.
The WNBA prides itself on connecting with fans, to be more than players on the court but influential off-court as well. Little Liliana is another example of this connection. She and her father got free tickets from the Lynx, got to meet Moore again during pregame warmups last Friday before the Minnesota-Phoenix contest, and were briefly shown on the huge video scoreboard inside the arena during a break in the action.
“She has been super sweet,” Moore said of Liliana. “She has a WNBA team right in her home city, and to be able to engage with me at this time is what it is all about, having those moments.
“She really made my day to see the impact I have, our team and our league can have on the next generation of young girls.”
Charles Hallman is a contributing reporter and award-winning sports columnist at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.