Tamika Catchings is one of the greatest all-around players that the WNBA has ever seen. She was also one of the most inspirational athletes of all time. She overcame a significant hearing impairment and speech impediment to ultimately achieve outstanding success.
Catchings was born into a basketball family. Her father, Harvey Catchings, played in the NBA for several teams throughout his 11-year career. Tamika fell in love with basketball and the game would become what she has often referred to as her “safe haven.” Catchings emerged into one of the most incredible women’s high school basketball prodigies ever. As a senior at Duncanville High School, she became the first basketball player of any gender and at any level to record an officially-kept track of quintuple-double: 25 points, 18 rebounds, 11 assists, 10 steals, and 10 blocked shots. Following her amazing high school career, Catchings dominated at the collegiate level. She led an undefeated University of Tennessee team to the NCAA title in her freshman year, while being named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player. She would continue to rack up an illustrious collection of accolades throughout her remaining three college seasons.
Catchings was selected No. 3 overall in the 2001 WNBA Draft by the Indiana Fever. After being forced to sit out the entire 2001 season due to injury, her 2002 Rookie of the Year season marked her first of 10 WNBA All-Star Game selections and first of seven All-WNBA First Team selections. She won a record five WNBA Defensive Player of the Year awards throughout her career (2005, 2006, 2009, 2010, and 2012) and won the league MVP award in 2011. In 2012, she led the Fever to their first WNBA championship, while capturing the Finals MVP. She was also part of four USA Women’s Olympic gold medal-winning teams (2004, 2008, 2012, and 2016). Catchings would retire from her inimitable WNBA Fever playing career in 2016, the same year that she was named to the WNBA’s Top 20@20 team. In WNBA regular season play, she currently ranks No. 3 on the all-time scoring list, No. 3 on the all-time rebounding list, No. 8 on the all-time assist list, No. 1 on the all-time steals list, and 12 on the all-time blocks list.
There have been very few WNBA players with a resume as illustrious as that of Catchings. There have also been very few with her level of on-court versatility and on-court mastery. She is considered by many to be the greatest defensive player in WNBA history, in addition to one of the most multiskilled scorers the league has ever seen. Her induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame is a fitting way to salute her meritorious on-court success, as well as her triumphant journey to that success, and her extraordinary perseverance and leadership through it all. She is an exemplary role model and a remarkable beacon of inspiration. She continues to exhibit amazing leadership qualities as the Fever general manager and as an influential member of the Pacers Sports and Entertainment group.
Listen to Tamika Catchings’ Legends Of Sport interview for more.