Throughout Tamika Catchings’ WNBA basketball career, she has put everything into the game that she loves so much. Her resume includes: seven All-Star appearances, five Defensive Player of the Year honors, three gold medals and one MVP. Catchings can now add the elusive WNBA Championship that she has been waiting for to that list.
The 33-year-old Catchings scored 25 points and eight assists Sunday to lead the Indiana Fever and her to their first-ever title over the Minnesota Lynx 87-78 in four games. She added her First Finals MVP to the resume as well.
During the finals against the Lynx she average 22 points, six rebounds and almost four assist a game.
Even though Catchings was getting everything done on the offensive end, she played until the clocked reached zero.
Minnesota’s Maya Moore went to shoot a 3-pointer as time expired and Catchings contested the shot by putting a hand in her face.
“I had to, I couldn’t just let her end the game like that,” Catchings said. “If she would have made it I still would’ve gotten yelled at, right? So I had to finish it off.”
Minnesota’s head coach Cheryl Reeve recognized the tenacity of Catchings and had nothing but positive remarks about her after the game.
“There’s not anybody that cannot be happy for Tamika Catchings to finally get a championship,” Reeve said.
Not only did the Fever want to win the first professional basketball title in the state of Indiana since the Indiana Pacers won the ABA crown in 1973, but they also wanted to win the title for injured veteran Katie Douglas and Tammy-Sutton-Brown. Catchings, Douglas and Sutton-Brown had a combined 35 seasons without a title.
“Everybody talks about the missing piece in the Tamika Catching career, and our players took that personally,” Fever head coach Lin Dunn said. “I really believe that was an incentive, and then when Katie went down they wanted to win it for her. A lot of emotional things came into play here that somehow overcame talent.”
Catchings had help from guard Shavonte Zellous, who dropped 30 points in Game 3, while averaging 17 points for the finals. Eriana Larkins was a rebounding machine with with three games of 13 0r more rebounds. On the defensive side of the ball, Briann January was able to lock down Minnesota’s Seimone Augustus after being assigned to her in Game 3 and held her to 6-for-30 shooting in Games 3 and 4.
Coming into the finals Catchings was one of the greats in all sports to have never won a championship, with the likes of Ted Williams, Indiana’s Reggie Miller, Dan Marino and Karl Malone to name a few. She now joins John Elway, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Ray Bourque to have won a title in the ladder part of their careers while still playing a significant role.
“Everybody kept saying the one thing she doesn’t have in a WNBA championship and now it’s like it is. It’s complete,” Catchings said.
Even though Catchings has had long journey to win her first WNBA championship, she is grateful for experiences along the way.
“This journey has been full of ups and downs, full of trials and tribulations, full of tears and happy faces,” she said. “But today we stand with happy faces, and I like that.”