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Wednesday, October 24, 2012
Moving on after an incredible run

By Tamika Catchings

Tamika Catchings
Tamika Catchings, the Finals MVP, has now won a WNBA title to go with her three Olympic gold medals.

It's funny how no matter what happens, every season finishes the same way: by cleaning out your locker. So just two days after the incredible high of winning my first WNBA title, here I am, pulling a yellowed robe out of the bottom of my locker. I forgot I even had it (and I'm pretty sure it wasn't yellow when it first got buried in there!)

It may have been more than a decade in the making, but I knew there was something special in the air Friday night when we won our second game against the Lynx, pushing us to a 2-1 lead in the championship series and putting us just one game away from the title. The crowd's energy felt more focused, and we were taking care of business on the defensive end. As a team, we knew we were playing our best basketball, and we had the confidence out there knowing that if we played defense the way we were, our offense would come.

It did. On Friday we beat the Lynx in the battle of the boards, and on Sunday everybody was playing with that extra fire in their eyes, knowing just how close we were. It was our time.

I've been blessed with a lot of success over the years, but to be a part of a WNBA championship team is to win at a different level. From a leadership standpoint, I was most proud of how every single player on the team stepped up when they were needed in different games throughout the season. Standing there at the end, hoisting that championship trophy, is a reminder it doesn't matter how many points or rebounds or assists any one person got; we celebrate together. That it took this many years to achieve makes the win that much sweeter.

After the game Sunday, I could see the crowd standing up on their seats screaming and cheering. In the streets outside the arena people were still screaming and honking as we left. After we finished up with all the postgame interviews we had a little party on the practice court with our families, coaches and everybody. And after the party? I came back to get in the cold tub! My body was hurting so bad. Usually my postgame routine is cold tub, hot tub and then massage but unfortunately the trainer decided he wanted to leave early after we won. It's hard to come by a massage at 2 a.m. I guess!

Tuesday's parade festivities were moved indoors because of the rain, but everybody just piled in and made the best of it. Our fans are so awesome. Not just the ones who were able to come out to the game, or to the celebration Tuesday, but all of our fans who have watched the whole Fever franchise grow up. We waited so long for this moment and now it's here. There were a lot of (happy) tears.

After the celebration we just hung out in the locker room as a team, reliving the amazing season as we dug out our lockers, and having a good time together before we part ways. It's already time to clean out the old and get ready for the next thing. I've got a little time off and leave Nov. 6 to play overseas in China for the Liaoning Hengye pro team. It will be my first time going to China for more than a week or two, so I'm both nervous and excited. I know it's going to be different and I'm going to have to once again make the adjustment, but my coach, Bo Overton, is American, so he speaks English (which is lucky!). I have a lot of people who've been saying they want to come visit me, too.

Everyone keeps saying this is the last championship I didn't have, and that bringing this championship back to Indy is the last thing I needed to accomplish. Yes, we'll go down in history for winning the Fever's first WNBA title. But I'm not done yet. At the end of the day I want to be the best player I can be. I'm going to keep playing and take it one step, one season, one year at a time. The 2016 Olympics sound good, but I also want to get married and have kids one of these days. There are plenty of goals left to accomplish in basketball and beyond. For now, though, I'm sticking with basketball.