Published September 28. 2012 4:00AM
Mohegan - It was about an hour after Tuesday's workout at the Mohegan Government and Community Center, long after most everyone likely headed home for a nap, when Maggie Hawk, the team's equipment manager, emerged from a back room off the gym floor wearing a smile that could have lit up the Casino of the Sky.
"Coach!" Hawk said to Sun coach Mike Thibault, who was just about ready to call it a day, "Tina just heard!"
Thibault, who wasn't expecting any news about Most Valuable Player voting for a while, figured it out quickly.
And not 10 seconds later, Tina Charles, who had just received the joyful news from the league, burst on to the floor with the same smile.
Tina Charles, 2012 MVP of the WNBA.
Charles, never one to talk about herself or the significance of personal accomplishments, threw her arms around Thibault and began to cry, telling her coach repeatedly: "thank you, thank you, thank you."
Even Thibault was having a Hallmark Moment, later saying Charles, "is like another daughter to me."
Charles joined award winners Renee Montgomery (Sixth Player of the Year) and Kara Lawson (Kim Perrot Sportsmanship Award) in a press conference Thursday. It was also announced the team will host the 2013 WNBA All-Star game.
"One of Connecticut's finest hours," Sun vice president and general manager Chris Sienko said before Thursday's playoff game with the Liberty.
Charles, who won a gold medal with the U.S. Olympic team last month, set a Sun franchise record this season, averaging 18 points per game. She also won her third league rebounding title in as many years, averaging 10.5 per game.
Charles won the league's Rookie of the Year Award in 2010.
She thanked her teammates, coaches, family, friends and God. Of her special moment with Thibault, Charles said, "he gives me confidence to go out and play my best. He makes it comfortable for all of us to explore our games."
WNBA president Laurel Richie called Charles, "a woman of not only accomplishment but of great humility."
Montgomery came off the bench for all 34 regular season games and averaged 11 points and three rebounds per game.
Lawson won the Perrot Award for the second time. Richie said it espouses "fair play, integrity and a sense of ethical behavior. Those are skills you are born with."