Catchings now WNBA’s elder, wiser stateswoman

 

 

SOECharlesHallmansquareSince Indiana only plays Minnesota here once a season, as does each Eastern Conference club, Tamika Catchings this week will make the first of her two final visits to Minnesota. The 6’-1” 14-year veteran forward plans to retire after the 2016 WNBA season.

The MSR at this year’s All-Star Game in July asked Catchings how comfortable she is as the W’s “elder stateswoman.” Smiling, she quickly corrected us by substituting “wiser” for elder — after all, she’s only in her 30s.

“I never really thought about it,” admitted Catchings. “I remember going to events with Lisa [Leslie] and she [spoke] on behalf of the league and for the players. It’s truly an honor to step into that role of being the older, wiser ambassador for the players.”

“She’s such the consummate pro,” marveled Chicago Coach Pokey Chatman of Catchings.

Her league debut unfortunately was delayed a year due to knee surgery, but once Catchings arrived on the court in 2002, the 10-time All Star, five-time best defensive player, and the W’s second-all-time scorer hasn’t missed a beat, save for a torn ACL and Achilles’ tendon injury.

“I want to be a general manager,” said Catchings on her post-playing plans. “When I was a kid, I used to love putting together puzzles, and I loved what they looked like at the end. I know it’s different, but putting together a team of players that are not just great players but everybody fit together, and you’re able to pull together a team to make a championship-caliber team, that intrigued me.”

Catchings also wants to expand her Catch The Stars Foundation. “I want to grow it outside of Indiana. I want to go across the globe. Not just here in America, but I want to go overseas, too.”

But there’s still this season — the Fever are in the hunt for a playoff spot — as well as next season before Catchings can pull out her rocking chair.

Read more MSR coverage of Tamika Catchings

Remembering Daryl Dawkins

Tamika Catchings’ father, Harvey Catchings, was a teammate of Daryl Dawkins (1957-2015), who played most of his 14 NBA seasons in Philadelphia. He was the fifth overall pick of the 1975 NBA Draft, the first high school player to be picked so high. He died of a heart attack last week at age 58.

The Philadelphia Tribune’s Daryl Bell last week talked to Philly legend Sonny Hill: “He was the first of the tall guys who was comfortable with his height,” says Hill on Dawkins, who Stevie Wonder christened “Chocolate Thunder” for his penchant of breaking backboards with his dunks. The 6’-11” 251-pound center “was a character who loved attention and people,” wrote Bell.

I never interviewed Dawkins but once saw him smash a glass backboard while warming up for a Magic Johnson-sponsored benefit game in Johnson’s hometown of Lansing, Mich. in the late 1970s.

Although some believed Dawkins never reached his full potential as a pro, he was a trailblazer and good teammate, said Rick Mahorn, who played with Dawkins, on Sirius XM NBA Radio.

Hill told Bell that remembering Dawkins was easier than describing him. “When we saw each other, it wasn’t just about basketball, it was about life,” he said.

 

Special thanks to the Philadelphia Tribune for their assistance to this report.

Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to challman@spokesman-recorder.com.