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Catchings has big plans after big season

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Tamika Catchings feels good enough to keep playing for WNBA titles.

Eight days after winning her first league championship, the 33-year-old Finals MVP told reporters that a busy summer and the most remarkable year of an already sterling career, has not changed her future plans. She'll keep playing basketball as long as her body allows.

``I haven't really thought about it (retirement),'' Catchings said Monday during a conference call with reporters. ``People keep asking me `How many years are you going to play. What about 2016?' Honestly, it depends on how my body feels and if I can get up and down the court and can play at the same level I'm used to. My biggest fear, is someone saying `I remember how she used to play.' At that time, I figure it's time to think about retirement.''

Using that gauge, she should be around a long time.

This season, she finished eighth in the league in scoring (17.4 points), seventh in rebounding (7.6) and was named the WNBA's defensive player of the year for a record fifth time - all after spending the Olympic break in London leading the Americans to another gold medal. In 2011, Catchings was the league MVP.

And despite the busy schedule, she still averaged 19.0 points in the playoffs - the highest of anybody who played five or more postseason games - and led the injury-riddled Fever to their first championship.

Heck she's not even tired.

``It energizes me more,'' she said when asked whether she was worn down from playing an Olympic schedule right in the middle of the WNBA's regular season and then a full postseason schedule. ``I have just a few aches and pains that wouldn't go away, like every year,'' she said. ``I think you don't really think about things that much when you win as much as when you lose.''

She'll need more energy given her upcoming plans.

Next Tuesday, she's expected to arrive in China, where she will play with the Guangdong Dolphins until February. She plans to make one trip back to the U.S., around Christmas so she can host her annual basketball camp. Otherwise, the American basketball star won't be back in her home country till February.

By then, the Fever hope to have their star player re-signed to another one-year maximum contract, which they have done each of the past two years, just in time to make a run at defending their first title.

``Probably like any other player in the league, you want to win as many titles as you can before you retire,'' Catchings said. ``To wait this long and not really know what that feeling is like, now we know what it takes. We're only going to be getting better.''

Copyright 2016 by STATS LLC and Associated Press.
Any commercial use or distribution without the express written
consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited.

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