INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana Fever President and General Manager Kelly Krauskopf has announced that All-Star forward Tamika Catchings has signed her final professional contract with the Indiana Fever. The two-year deal between Catchings and the Fever commits the three-time Olympic gold medalist and WNBA superstar through the 2016 season.
Last fall, Catchings announced her intentions to retire following the 2016 WNBA season which coincides with the Summer Olympics in August 2016, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Catchings hopes to join an elite club with Teresa Edwards and Lisa Leslie who are currently the only American basketball players, male or female, to earn four Olympic gold medals.
Catchings, 35, has been the “face” of the Fever franchise since she was drafted by Krauskopf with the No. 2 overall selection in the 2001 WNBA Draft, despite having to miss the 2001 campaign due to an injury sustained during her senior year at Tennessee. From the time she resumed playing in 2002 however, she has been a model athlete and citizen while helping establish the Fever as one of the league’s elite franchises. The WNBA Rookie of the Year in 2002 and league MVP in 2011, Catchings led Indiana to its first WNBA title in 2012 and was named the Finals MVP. She has paced the Fever to a league-record 10 consecutive playoff berths.
PHOTOS: Tamika Catchings’ WNBA Career »
Beginning her 15th pro season in June, Catchings is set to become the WNBA’s only player ever to spend an entire career of 15 or more seasons with the same franchise. An active participant in 14 seasons (not counting 2001) with the Fever, Catchings joins an elite list of NBA counterparts with as many seasons of an entire career playing with the same team: Kobe Bryant (19), John Stockton (19), Tim Duncan (18), Reggie Miller (18), Dirk Nowitzki (17), John Havlicek (16), Hal Greer (15), Elgin Baylor (14), Joe Dumars (14), Tony Parker (14), David Robinson (14), and Jerry West (14).
“Since the day she put on a Fever uniform, Tamika has been a consummate professional and leader of our team,” said Krauskopf, who helped launch the Fever franchise just one season before drafting Catchings. “She has been the cornerstone of our franchise, always leading by example on and off the basketball court. Through the years, Tamika has built a legacy of determination and work ethic that has permeated our organization and will remain for years to come.”
Krauskopf continued, “I am fortunate to have been on this journey with her and thrilled that she will conclude her pro career where she started – right here in Indianapolis.”
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“Tamika Catchings is the epitome of everything that is right in sports,” said Indiana coach Stephanie White who teamed with Catchings on Fever teams from 2001 to 2004.
“She is the greatest competitor the game has seen,” said White. “Her on-court numbers and accolades only tell part of the story. Tamika is an ambassador and mentor to our community with her generosity, her humility and her example. It doesn’t do justice to say she is the face of the franchise; she is the heart and soul of the Indiana Fever and the foundation for our core values. I am so fortunate to have been a part of her journey as a teammate, and now as a coach.”
The daughter of former NBA star Harvey Catchings, Tamika has been a winner at every level at which she has played. She earned Miss Basketball as a prep star in two different states (Illinois and Texas), and won state titles in each. She was part of an unbeaten University of Tennessee squad that won an NCAA title in 1998 while being named the NCAA’s Freshman of the Year, and was a four-time college All-American.
In the WNBA, she has finished in the top five of WNBA MVP balloting in 10 of her 13 active seasons. She is an 11-time all-league recipient and a nine-time all-star. Already the league’s all-time leader in steals, Catchings has won an unprecedented five defensive player of the year awards. Also the WNBA’s career leader in free throws, she currently ranks third in career points and fourth in rebounds. She is the leading scorer and rebounder in WNBA postseason history and within reach of both regular season marks.
Catchings added, “I am really excited about signing my contract with the Fever. This organization has been behind me for my entire career and I’m thankful for the opportunity to close it out in the city that I have found as my home. It has been a blessing for me to gain so many friends, family, fans and love through my play both on and off the court. This platform in Indy has allowed me to carry out my passion on the court with the Fever, and off the court with my Catch the Stars Foundation. There’s plenty of work to do in the next two years, so here’s to a successful start in 2015!”
She is arguably the greatest and most consistent all-around talent in women’s basketball history, but her career and her citizenship transcend her numbers on the court. Off the court, she is one of the country’s most highly regarded citizen-athletes.
The president of the WNBA Players Association, Catchings was the WNBA’s first recipient of the Dawn Staley Leadership Award in 2007, and she has twice received the league’s Kim Perrot Sportsmanship Award.
Twice, she has been invited by U.S. Presidents to attend the State of the Union Address, once by a Republican and once by a Democrat. She also serves with the U.S. Department of State’s Council to Empower Women and Girls Through Sports, and is a national ambassador for the Allstate WBCA Good Works Team which honors college athletes who do good work in their communities.
Catchings’ greatest influence may be her own community work and the growth of her Catch The Stars Foundation (CTSF) which she founded in 2004. Through camps, clinics, mentoring programs and scholarship opportunities, Catchings and her Foundation have helped youth, mostly in Indianapolis, to achieve their dreams by providing goal-setting programs that promote literacy, fitness and mentoring. The Foundation also has included programs in hometown areas of Chicago and Dallas, as well as Knoxville, Tenn., with hopes of growing nationally.
Indianapolis Parks and Recreation, with whom Catchings has often partnered in hosting CTSF events, dedicated Tamika Catchings Court, in Thatcher Park on Indy’s west side, in honor of her good works. She also has served on mentoring panels at the White House, and has traveled internationally as an NBA/WNBA ambassador to spread the game of basketball worldwide.
2015 Fever Open House: You can meet Catchings and Fever head coach Stephanie White at the 2015 Fever Open House at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Sat., March 21 from 12:30 – 2:00 PM. Learn More »