Indianapolis, IN — It was an emotional day for the Indiana Fever and the rest of the Indianapolis community on Sunday. The Fever came in hot Sunday afternoon as they hosted the Dallas Wings for their final regular season game. The Fever was not only preparing to handle this like any other game going into the playoffs, but they were also playing at their hardest to honor a teammate.
And that they did! Indiana annihilated the Wings, 83-58, clinching the five seed with the victory.
Tamika Catchings, a player, known for her versatility, confidence, and numerous accomplishments on and off the court, was playing her final regular season game of her career at Bankers Life Fieldhouse -- and what a touching day it was.
From tearing up during the National Anthem, receiving a Wings jersey from Dallas and playing her heart out, the 37-year-old WNBA star finished off strong. She racked up 16 points, seven rebounds and one assist, two steals and one block.
The 15-year veteran is the league’s all-time leader in rebounds and free throws made and second-leader in points.
Catchings’ accolades are one mile long. She has earned copious titles including five Defensive Player of the Year awards, 2011 MVP, 2012 champion, four Olympic Gold medals and MVP of the Finals. Her greatest impact, though, has been on the community. In 2015, Tamika was the first to win the ESPN Sports Humanitarian of the Year award.
The Fever along with Catchings, went into the matchup against the Wings with guns loaded and their game faces on. It is no surprise that Catchings ended the first half with 12 points and five rebounds.
She consistently ran the ball throughout the first two-quarters, making big plays and passes to her teammates, and they did not disappoint either. They went into the locker room at the end of the half with a 45-26 lead over Dallas.
The entire Indiana team was dominant, playing at a steady pace with multiple levels of effort to honor Catchings. The Fever had a 25-point cushion going into the final quarter. Other big scorers of the afternoon were Lynetta Kizer and Natalie Achonwa who put up 16 and 12 points, respectively.
She had plenty of support from her teammates down on the court, but Catchings’ support system didn’t stop there.
And what an incredible support system it was in the audience. Her father and sister were in attendance, as well as old coaches like Lin Dunn, WNBA President Lisa Borders, dedicated fans wearing “#24FOREVER” t-shirts and Paul George of the Indiana Pacers, who bought 5,000 balcony seats in an effort to pack the house for Catchings’ last game.
Catchings walked off the court with 1:33 seconds remaining in the fourth and was showered with love by a standing ovation from the 17,400-person crowd.
Catchings has been a starter for every game this season and is averaging 12.6 points and 4.7 rebounds to lead the team. She has a commendable supporting cast led by Shenise Johnson and Briann January who are both averaging 9.8 points per game.
Catchings and Indiana will play on Wednesday in the first game of the playoffs.