More more more on the WNBA Champion Fever

What it was like at the end of the game:

INDIANAPOLIS — With 3.2 seconds left, 15,213 red-clad fans stood in unison, danced in the aisles and produced ear-splitting cheers.

On the Indiana Fever bench, players gleefully hugged, high-fived and waved to the crowd.

Tamika Catchings is now complete. Priceless:

INDIANAPOLIS, IND — As the final seconds of the Indiana Fever’s historic season ticked away, the outcome of the 2012 WNBA Finals no longer in doubt, Tamika Catchings was still playing defense.

As Minnesota’s Maya Moore was set to hoist a meaningless 3-pointer on the game’s last possession, Catchings, who’s made a career out of playing harder than everyone else, actually guarded Moore and put a hand in her face.

“I had to, I couldn’t just let her end the game like that,” Catchings said. “If she would have made it I still would’ve gotten yelled at, right? So I had to finish it off.”

It was a true team effort.

First half photo gallery.

Full game photo gallery.

Even more photos.

Trophy presentation photo gallery.

Portraits.

Video highlights.

Trophy presentation video.

Finals MVP video.

Catchings video.

Fever fans are beyond excited at the historic win.

The Fever learned from 2009, when they lost the series to Phoenix.

Erin Phillips turned disappointment into a title. She came through a difficult year.

Briann January gets a shout out from her alma mater.

ACC alumnae were part of the championship.

Indianapolis will hold a celebration parade tomorrow.

On the Lynx side, Lindsay Whalen and Maya Moore are disappointed by the loss.

Charting Seimone Augustus’ backslide.

Candice Wiggins is her father’s daughter.

Star Tribune photo gallery.

Thoughts:

1. It’s hard to think of another athlete who’s been more universally supported and loved than Tamika Catchings. Sure, she’s paid her dues and then some. Sure, she’s come back from several injuries that have ended the careers of other athletes, including a torn ACL and Achilles tendon. But an equally big part of the admiration for her is because she’s an evolved individual. She works hard on both ends of the court, on every possession. She takes personal responsibility – sometimes too much. She doesn’t complain or make excuses. She helps elevate her teammates. Her spare time? She runs a foundation to help children, and hangs out with her sister and nephews. The world would be a better place if it had more Tamika Catchings in it.

2. It’s nice to see Coach Lin Dunn get a title. She’s been coaching for 42 years. I was living in Seattle in 1999 when Dunn dribbled all around downtown trying to sell season tickets so the city could start a WNBA team. The next year, the Seattle Storm was born. She works hard, yes, but she doesn’t give up, either. A good example to have as a coach.

It’s also great to see 12-year veteran Tammy Sutton-Brown get her ring. She’s been around since the early days of the league, and her work ethic is impressive.

3. It’s amazing to consider the odds Indiana overcame to win this title. They lost one of their leading scorers in the semifinals. They lost a key reserve mid-way through the finals. But they still believed in themselves, and they never gave up. Those two attributes are hard to come by in this day and age, when negativity rules and instant gratification has turned us into a nation of quitters. The Indiana Fever have a lot of strength, and I’m not talking physically. I truly respect that.

4. It was indeed a true team effort, in every sense of the word.

5. It is hard to sustain a championship mindset. I don’t look down on the Lynx whatsoever. They admitted to some doubts mid-way through the season, and they might not have truly ever put that behind them. But they have every reason to be proud. They are a deep, talented team that will be back next year to terrorize the Western Conference once again.

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