On May 15, 2021, Tamika Catchings was inducted to the Basketball Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2020. Catchings is a first ballot Hall of Fame player and enters the Naismith Memorial with an illustrious class that includes the late Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett.
The pandemic delayed enshrinement weekend from its original date last fall for this highly awaited group.
After becoming the first basketball player at any level to record a quintuple-double (25 points, 18 rebounds, 11 assists, 10 steals and 10 blocks) while playing at Duncanville High School in Texas, Tamika Catchings would start her college basketball career in 1997 at the University of Tennessee to play under the legendary coach – Pat Summit.
As a freshman, she played a big part on the undefeated 1997-98 National championship team that included other future WNBA stars Chamique Holdsclaw and Semeka Randal. From 1998-2001, Tamika Catchings earned four All-American first team honors and was awarded the Naismith College Player of the Year award in 2000; this would only be the beginning for Catchings.
Drafted 3rd overall by the Indiana Fever could not have worked out better for both Indiana and Tamika Catchings. The Indiana Fever joined the WNBA in 2000, four years after the WNBA had started. They had yet to make the playoffs but struck the same kind of luck the Chicago Bulls would get in the 1986 NBA draft – drafting Tamika Catchings from the powerful Lady Vols program would change their fortunes for the better.
Although she would miss her first year due to an ACL injury lingering from her senior year at Tennessee, after joining the team, Catchings would lead the Fever to 13 playoff berths in 15 seasons.
Catchings quickly emerged as one of the top players in the league, awarded Rookie of the Year honours in 2002. She also made her first of 10 WNBA All-Star nods that year while receiving her first of 7 All-WNBA First Team honours.
With career averages of 16.1 points per game, 7.3 rebounds per game and 3.3 assists per game, Catchings stands out as being one of the most tenacious defenders in basketball history. As a five-time WNBA Defensive Player of the Year, 10-time WNBA All-Defensive First Team, and the WNBA’s all-time steals leader, Catchings was the all-around superstar everyone yearned for.
Those all-around efforts would be recognized in 2011 winning her first WNBA MVP. The year after, Catchings went one step further and became a WNBA champion for the first time.
It would also be the Fever’s first. Catchings came close to winning one more in 2015 before retiring in 2016. Unfortunately for the Fever, they have yet to make the playoffs since Catchings’ retirement.
Like most WNBA players, Tamika Catchings also had quite the career playing in the European basketball scene. She was a Polish National League champion in 2009 with Arka Gdynia and a two-time Turkish Cup winner in 2010 and 2011 with Galatasaray. Catchings also spent several seasons in countries like South Korea and Russia.
Catchings was a member of the USA Basketball program, debuting in 1996 when she was called to the junior national team. A four-time Olympic gold medalist, she established the WNBA as the best league in the world – in the process.
Tamika Catchings’ induction alongside other greats to the game of basketball was well-deserved. For all the young girls aspiring to become professional athletes one day, Catchings is a perfect example of somebody who worked hard to achieve their goals and during the moment showed that anybody can shoot for the stars and catch their dreams.