2019 Speaker Ball Speaker, Tamika Catchings
Indiana’s “do-everything” forward completed 16 seasons in the WNBA, stepping away from her future-hall-of-fame-career following the 2016 season. Her naming as recipient of the very first ESPN Humanitarian Award in 2015 and a 14-year run of community service by her Catch The Stars Foundation are testament to her work off the court, however – more impactful than her MVP career on the court.
Since her playing retirement, she serves as director of player programs and franchise development with Pacers Sports & Entertainment, a post that keeps her engaged working with all three Pacers franchises: the Indiana Pacers, Indiana Fever and Ft. Wayne Mad Ants. She operates the cozy Tea’s Me Café on the north side of downtown Indianapolis, and continues her service as an ambassador with the NBA and WNBA. She serves on a developmental committee with USA Basketball. She also serves as an SEC ESPN Women’s Basketball Analyst.
In March 2016, Catchings released an autobiographical story, Catch A Star: Shining through Adversity to Become a Champion sharing her story of overcoming hearing loss, separation from family, high expectations and the pain of debilitating physical injuries. She reached for the stars with hard work, perseverance and her faith in God.
On the court, Catchings’ legacy is cemented as one of the greatest women ever to play the game. She retired as the league’s No. 2 scorer (7,380 points) and rebounder (3,316) of all-time, already its career leader in free throws (2,004) and steals (1,074). In postseason play, nobody appeared in as many WNBA Playoff games (68) as Catchings, or started as many (67). She retired as the WNBA postseason leader in points (1,141), rebounds (598), free throws (356), steals (152), double-doubles (27) and minutes played (2,310).
The first man or woman in recorded basketball history to record a quintuple-double (Duncanville High School in 1997), Catchings’ leadership, tenacity and all-around skills led the Indiana Fever to becoming one of the WNBA’s elite franchises. The Fever reached the playoffs 13 times in Catchings’ 15 active seasons, including a WNBA-record run of 12-in-a-row from 2005-16. The Fever reached the conference finals eight times, including five straight seasons. The Fever won a WNBA championship in 2012 and came within one game of two more championships in five-game WNBA Finals appearances in 2009 and 2015. Catchings played in every playoff game in Fever history through the time of her retirement.
Catchings was the WNBA’s only player ever to spend an entire career of 16 or more seasons with the same franchise.