Tamika Catchings looks back at an All-Star career and a future full of hope

UNCASVILLE, Conn. – One of the greatest called it a career, as Tamika Catchings of the Indiana Fever played in what she says is her final WNBA All-Star game.

Catchings will play one more season, but with the Olympic games set for next August, there will not be a conventional All-Star game scheduled for 2016.

“As a coach it’s what you’re thinking about; let’s run this play. Let’s get Catch a touch here, Catch a touch here, but sometimes with the great players a touch doesn’t always lead to points because she’s going to make a basketball play,” East coach Pokey Chatman said. “It’s no different, she goes in the game, immediately gets a rebound, extra possession.”

“She’s such a consummate pro,” Chatman continued. “She just wanted to have fun, just wanted to blend and show the young players what this is all about.”

Her eight points in her tenth All-Star game put Catchings ahead of Lisa Leslie as the all-time WNBA all-star game points leader with 108. She insisted however, of only talking about the young players and their importance to the league and to this game.

“I’m excited for the future,” Catchings said. “People talked about this game and passing the torch. In the beginning we had Dawn, Lisa, Sheryl that passed the torch to the in between group of Katie Smith and Tina Thompason, then came us and at the end of our group is Cappie, then you got to Candace Parker and now there is Elena Delle Donne, Maya Moore, Skylar Diggins, and that group. I think we’ve progressed, we’ve come a long way from the beginning.”

“As we have progressed,” Catchings concluded, “and look at the future, today is a good example of how good the WNBA will continue to be.”

Catchings said she told the newcomers, “Once you are an All-Star, you are an All-Star. When we come out here, we play hard on both sides. We need to make sure our product that we put on the court that people no matter if they have ever watched us before, they are excited to come back and see the WNBA and the players that play for it.”

In the end, there are very few people in sports that are universally respected, universally loved. Derek Jeter comes to mind. Athletes that “did it right” people would say. Catchings is one of those athletes. How does that person come about? In her own words:

“My parents lived through a lot, we have gone through a lot as a family. Even with my hearing problems, just dealing with that was tough on me, and tough on my family,” she says. “I always remember as a little girl I had to work so much harder than everyone else, but I didn’t mind it. I knew one day it would pay off. So now when I look at my life, and I look where I’ve been, and I look at the opportunities I’ve had, every single day I walk into that locker room, I’m blessed.”

“I’m blessed to be able to walk, to be able to have a locker room to go to and I’m blessed to have some great teammates. I’m blessed all the way around. And with my foundation I want to make an impact and I’m blessed to be able to do that.”

“You know how people ask if your glass is half full or half empty, I never look at the negative side of things; my mom never let me. When I wanted to quit, when I wanted to give up, when I didn’t want to go to school she wouldn’t let me. Basketball got hard, I sucked sometimes, they never let me quit.”

“I love people, I love meeting people. I love doing different things and going on different adventures. So every time I come to a room, I never have someone I never met. It might be the first time I meet you, but I always say ‘hey, it’s great to see you.’ Very rarely do I say ‘nice to meet you’ because I always feel like I am friends with everybody; that you never have someone that is not a friend.”

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