INDIANAPOLIS - Basketball star Tamika Catchings ended her illustrious career on Wednesday night as the Indiana Fever lost to the Phoenix Mercury 89-78.
Catchings, 37, scored 13 points on 4-of-12 shooting while snagging 10 rebounds and recording three steals in the loss.
The entire Fever team locked arms and kneeled during Wednesday night’s national anthem prior to the start of the game.
"This game of basketball is important for a lot of reasons," Catchings said. "One of them is bringing people together. Even uniting people. Well, we thought it was important to have a voice about something greater than basketball. But the good thing is, we were together. (The gesture) was something that was very impromptu, but I am very proud of our team — as people — to be able to stand together for something we believed in."
Two members of the Mercury joined the Fever's protest, as Mistie Bass and Kelsey Bone also took a knee. There wasn't much reaction from the 6,282 fans in attendance.
The national anthem kneel-down started with San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, and has spread to other teams and leagues. Wednesday night marked the first time an entire professional team took a knee.
Catchings tweeted a photo on Tuesday afternoon of a note her former coach Pat Summitt wrote to her in 2002 when Catchings started her WNBA career. Catchings found the note while cleaning her garage.
The note reads:
"Great to see you, watch you play and have lunch with you. You look terrific and I know you're glad to be back on the court. I'm proud of you and proud for you. Hang tough through the hard times. You have a great pro career ahead of you."
Catchings played for the Tennessee Lady Volunteers from 1997-2001. She was the 2000 national player of the year, won a national championship in the 1997-1998 season as a freshman, led the Fever to the 2012 WNBA Championship and won four Olympic gold medals.
As the oldest U.S. player ever in Olympic women’s basketball, Catchings helped the U.S. women’s team win its sixth consecutive gold medal during the Rio Olympics.
(© 2016 WBIR)