#Fever15 Moments: Catchings Named WNBA MVPTweet
The Date: September 22, 2011
In her first ten WNBA seasons, Fever star Tamika Catchings established herself as one of the greatest players in the entire WNBA. Her lengthy resume already included so many accolades: by the end of the 2011 regular season, Catchings was the 2002 Rookie of the Year, a seven-time All-Star, a six-time first team All-WNBA selection, a four-time winner of the league's Defensive Player of the Year award, a member of the WNBA's All-Decade Team, and a two-time Olympic gold medalist.
But there was one major individual accolade missing from her resume — winning the WNBA MVP award. In her first nine years in the league, Catchings had come close several times. She finished in the top five in MVP voting in eight different seasons. She finished among the top three in balloting five times. She was runner-up three times: twice to Lauren Jackson (2003 and 2010) and once to Diana Taurasi (2009).
2011 was finally Catchings' year. The face of the Fever franchise was officially named the WNBA's Most Valuable Player for the first time in her storied career. She was officially named MVP at a press conference in Indianapolis held during the Eastern Conference Finals.
"I know that I wouldn't be up here right now if it wasn't for teammates that are spread out amongst here," Catchings said at the occasion, drawing loud cheers from her teammates watching from different corners of the entry pavilion. "I want to thank you guys from the bottom of my heart for everything that you guys have gone through with me."
Catchings received 292 points and 21 first-place votes from a national panel of 40 sportswriters and broadcasters. Runner-up Tina Charles of the Connecticut Sun had 209 points and six first-place votes.
Catchings led the Fever to the top seed in the Eastern Conference, averaging 15.5 points, 7.1 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 2.0 steals. The only member of the Fever to lead the team in points, rebounds and assists in the same game, Catchings did so three times. She recorded four double-doubles, and grabbed at least 10 rebounds six times during the 2011 campaign. She shot a career-high .883 from the free throw line and converted .438 of her field goal attempts, the second best percentage of her career. Catchings was also the top vote-getter in All-Star balloting for the third time in her career.
The former University of Tennessee star also continued to add her storied resume, becoming the first player in league history to compile 5,000 career points, 2,000 career rebounds, and 1,000 assists.
"While the stats speak volumes about her versatility and her consistency, they also speak volumes about her leadership and her contributions on and off the court," WNBA President Laurel Richie said at the press conference officially naming Catchings as MVP.
Though her 2011 MVP gave Catchings the one individual accolade missing from her resume, she still had one main team goal: winning a WNBA championship. And as we all know, that was coming.
Is Tamika Catchings being named the 2009 WNBA MVP one of your favorite moments in Fever history? Be sure to vote for it in FeverBasketball.com's #Fever15 Moments Tournament! Vote Now »