MINNEAPOLIS – Champagne dripped from the locker room walls as the Minnesota Lynx celebrated their third WNBA title in five years. Jubilation beamed on the faces of every player, coach and member of the organization.
And as the cheers rang out and the cries of joy echoed down the hallway, in walked Fever forward Tamika Catchings. On the heels of her press conference after a crushing loss in a winner-take-all Game 5, one of the league’s all-time great players entered the Lynx locker room with a smile on her face.
“Congratulations, you guys,” Catchings said with her arms raised in the air. “I love you guys.”
She was embraced by numerous members of the Lynx, many who expressed their gratitude towards Catchings.
“Thank you Catch!” the Lynx players said.
After a few hugs, Catchings, a fierce competitor and true ambassador for the sport, left the locker room and retreated to what was sure to be a much more downtrodden Indiana Fever locker room. But her gesture was not lost on the Lynx players, many of which have played with or against Catchings for years, either in the WNBA or on the U.S. Women’s National Team.
“That is a class act,” Olympian and Lynx guard/forward Seimone Augustus said. “Tamika Catchings is one of the classiest players that we’ve ever seen in this league. I mean, she’s a competitor on the floor, she gives you everything that she has, and then for her to be able to come in here – she didn’t get a chance to come right after we won. For her to come in here speaks volumes for the type of person that she is off the floor. We’ve seen that numerous times in USA Basketball. I’ve hung out with her, had deep conversations with her. I’ve played with her overseas. That’s one of the best players that I’ve ever played with in my life.”
“Much respect,” said WNBA Finals MVP Sylvia Fowles. “She respects herself but she also respects the league. For her to come in there and congratulate us, it shows there were no hard feelings. We won these 40 minutes tonight and she was grateful that we got a championship. You have to give her all of the credit in the world, because she’s just that kind of person.”