What do you get the woman who has everything? For Tamika Catchings—who won an NCAA title at Tennessee, three Olympic gold medals and a WNBA MVP award in 2011—a ring was the thing. The 12-year veteran got her first when her Indiana Fever defeated the defending champion Minnesota Lynx 87--78 in Game 4 to clinch their best-of-five series on Sunday night in Indianapolis. A crowd of 15,213, including former Lady Vols coach Pat Summitt, came out to see the Fever win the city's first pro basketball championship since the Pacers won an ABA title in 1973.
Catchings—as she has throughout her career—carried Indiana, scoring a game-high 25 points to go along with eight assists, four rebounds and three blocks, and earning Finals MVP honors. But a big reason that Indiana won the title was that the seven-time All-Star has learned to trust her teammates. "I just knew no matter who I passed it to, I had the confidence that they could knock down the shot," she said from a jubilant locker room.
After Indy native Katie Douglas, the Fever's top playoff scorer, went down with a sprained left ankle on Oct. 11, forward Erlana Larkins (16 points and 15 boards in Indy's Game 1 win) and guard Shavonte Zellous (a career-high 30 points in its Game 3 win) stepped up to lighten the load on their captain.
This year Catchings also made a reluctant move from small forward to power forward, which helped her conserve energy for the stretch run. Now that she has won it all, she's feeling greedier than ever. "Hopefully, we can get another championship," says Catchings, who at 33 has no immediate plans to retire. "You don't get satisfied with just one."
BRIAN SPURLOCK/US PRESSWIRE (CATCHINGS)
Catchy ending The veteran forward had played in 46 playoff games, which was the fourth-most among current players who hadn't won a title.