You don’t get any better than Team USA’s women’s basketball team. The 12 players upheld a winning streak dating back to 1992 when the Americans won bronze in Barcelona. The 8-0 finish at the London Olympic Games brought the total to 41 consecutive wins, five consecutive gold medals.
So of course the group mugged for the cameras after receiving their medals. There was Swin Cash flexing. Diana Taurasi mimicking Usain Bolt. Lindsey Whalen’s peace sign. And, wait, what is Tamika Catchings doing? Is that the other bird?
Catchings (center) flashed her happiest smile while clutching flowers and appears to be giving the camera a gesture that’s gotten players suspended in other sports. Although the photo gained instant popularity among newspapers and fans, plenty tweaking it to post on the popular site Instagram, three-time gold medalist Sue Bird said the players hadn’t noticed when laughing at themselves.
I, uh, pointed out the image to Bird at practice on Tuesday. She laughed along with other reporters.
“I think I got stuck on my face, like ‘I can’t even look at this anymore,'” said Bird, whose expression appeared like an unapologetic shrug at being the best. But she didn’t quiet get set before the camera snapped. Instead her look is the most contorted of the bunch.
“But I didn’t see it (Catchings’ gesture),” Bird continued. “That’s funny. I don’t think she did it intentionally. For those that don’t know her, there’s no way she did this intentionally. She’s the sweetest person ever and that’s pretty funny. “
True, if there’s ever a person who wouldn’t form her hands in such a manner, it’s Catchings. She’s president of the WNBA Players Association, a three-time Olympic gold medalist, reigning MVP and long-time ambassador for the sport.
To be caught out of character is as entertaining as the photo itself.
*PHOTO CREDIT: Team USA poses after winning gold by Charles Krupa/AP.