Tamika Catchings named WNBA MVP

Michael Conroy/Associated Press
Indiana forward Tamika Catchings drives on Washington's Matee Ajavon during the first half on Sept. 7. Catchings, along with teammates Shyra Ely and Shannon Bobbitt, forms a trio of former Lady Vols on the Fever.

Photo by Michael Conroy

Michael Conroy/Associated Press Indiana forward Tamika Catchings drives on Washington's Matee Ajavon during the first half on Sept. 7. Catchings, along with teammates Shyra Ely and Shannon Bobbitt, forms a trio of former Lady Vols on the Fever.

INDIANAPOLIS — Tamika Catchings of the Indiana Fever has been selected the WNBA’s most valuable player for the first time.

The versatile 32-year-old forward, who was MVP runner-up in 2009 and 2010, averaged 15.5 points, 7.1 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 2.0 steals this season.

Indiana finished with the best record in the Eastern Conference, giving the Fever homecourt advantage in the first two rounds of the playoffs. The Fever will play Atlanta on Thursday night in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals.

Catchings had 21 of 40 first-place votes for 292 points, followed by Connecticut’s Tina Charles (209) and Chicago’s Sylvia Fowles (148). Seattle’s Sue Bird (106) and Minnesota’s Lindsay Whalen (104) followed in the voting.

Catchings is a four-time defensive player of the year who has led the Fever to the playoffs seven straight years, the Eastern Conference Finals four times and the WNBA Finals once in 2009. Earlier this year, the WNBA selected her among its 15 greatest players of all time.

While the humble Tennessee product has often said she’s mostly concerned with winning a WNBA title, her teammates were vocal about their belief in her talent.

Indiana Pacers president Larry Bird, who had campaigned for Catchings, said she deserves the award.

“Everyone here at Pacers Sports & Entertainment is not only happy to have an MVP, but also a quality person who is not only great on the court, but in the community as well,” he said. “This is very deserving, as Tamika fits the true description of an MVP. It’s another in a long list of accomplishments, all of which we’re extremely proud for her.”

Fever COO and General Manager Kelly Krauskopf was emotional when she heard the news.

“I just got big tears in my eyes,” Krauskopf said. “I was so happy and thrilled for Tamika.

After Catchings tied a career high with 32 points in a win over the Liberty on Aug. 13, Fever coach Lin Dunn started an unofficial campaign.

“Catch is a multidimensional player,” Dunn said that night. “I think sometimes she’s not given enough credit for all the different things she can do. She gets assists, she gets steals, she gets rebounds, she scores and she defends like nobody else in the league. It’s unfortunate that so much emphasis is put on ‘Who’s the leading scorer?”’

Krauskopf said Catchings all-around game and work ethic deserved to be rewarded.

“I never gave up hope that at some point the media and the folks who voted on this would see the effect she has,” she said.

Pat Summitt, Catchings’ coach at Tennessee, said the forward is an MVP in every way.

“She totally symbolizes every aspect of what a most valuable player should be through her leadership and everyday excellence on the court,” Summitt said. “I am, and always have been, extremely proud of how Tamika goes about her business. I have been fortunate to coach a lot of great players but there has always been a ‘specialness’ between Catch and I because she is so real.”

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Comments » 8

huntined#565710 writes:

GENO will not like this!!!

voloffaith writes:

in response to huntined#565710:

GENO will not like this!!!

He wasn't even mentioned in the article so why did you have to do it?

Congrats to a great VFL Lady Vol!!! Was that redundant?..redundant?

BxVol writes:

Congratulations Tamika,certainly well deseved for a great Lady Vol!

Volfan51 writes:

Congratulations to my personal choice for best Lady Vol player. Believe we would have had another banner hanging if she hadn't went down with an injury in her senior year. A very classy lady just like Coach Summitt.

SummittsCourt writes:

in response to Volfan51:

Congratulations to my personal choice for best Lady Vol player. Believe we would have had another banner hanging if she hadn't went down with an injury in her senior year. A very classy lady just like Coach Summitt.

I don't believe, I know there would be another banner had she not gone down in her senior year.

She definately is an all time great college player and professional as well.

SummittsCourt writes:

Congrats Tamika, you deserve it and maybe a few more as well.

Millisa writes:

Congratulations Tamika!!! :) :) :)

Volfantm writes:

Way to go! Hope Tamika gets her WNBA championship too!

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