Indiana’s “do-everything” forward has completed 15 seasons in the WNBA, but although she intends to step away from her future-hall-of-fame-career following the 2016 season, perhaps her greatest impact has been made off the floor…her naming as recipient of the very first ESPN Humanitarian Award in 2015 and an 11-year run of community service by her Catch The Stars Foundation are testament to her work off the court.
In March 2016, she released an autobiographical story written by Ken Petersen with a Foreword written by Tony Dungy. Catch A Star: Shining through Adversity to Become a Champion tells Catchings’ story of overcoming. She faced being set apart by her hearing loss, separation from family, high expectations and the pain of debilitating physical injury. She reached for the stars with hard work, perseverance and her faith in God. Through the silence, she found a way to shine.
On the court, Catchings’ legacy is already cemented as one of the greatest women ever to play the game…she will enter the 2016 WNBA season as the league’s No. 2 scorer (6,947 points) and rebounder (3,153) of all-time, already its career leader in free throws (1,898) and steals (1,012). In postseason play, nobody has appeared in as many WNBA Playoff games (67) as Catchings, or started as many (66). She also is the WNBA postseason leader in points (1,128), rebounds (588), free throws (351), steals (149), double-doubles (26) and minutes played (2,280). She is second in postseason assists (223), fourth in blocked shots (62) and fifth in 3-point field goals (81).
The only man or women in recorded basketball history ever to record a quintuple-double (Duncanville High School in 1997), Catchings’ leadership, tenacity and all-around skills have led the Indiana Fever to becoming one of the WNBA’s elite franchises. The Fever have reached the playoffs 12 times in Catchings’ 14 active seasons, including a current WNBA-record run of 11 years-in-a-row. 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 has played in every playoff game in Fever history.
Catchings is 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), Tony Parker (15), Elgin Baylor (14), Joe Dumars (14), David Robinson (14), and Jerry West (14).
In Fall 2014, Catchings announced her intentions to retire following the 2016 WNBA season which coincided with the Summer Olympics in August 2016, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Catchings joined an elite club of only a few American basketball players, male or female, to earn four Olympic gold medals. Now a four-time Olympic gold medalist for the United States, she won gold at the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Greece; the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China, the 2012 Games in London and the 2016 Olympics Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
A telling note of durability is that Catchings has played at least 30 games in 11 of her 14 active seasons…in 2012, at age 33, Catchings was the only WNBA player to start every regular season (34) and playoff game (10), as well as every game in the Olympics (8)…in 2015, at age 36, Catchings defied expectations with 13.1 points and 7.8 rebounds per game in 30 regular season starts, followed by an improbable playoff run that included averages of 15.5 points and 6.9 rebounds through a league-record 11 playoff games. Her 47 percent 3-point shooting in the 2015 playoffs was the best of her career.
Universally liked by fans, coaches and fellow players, she has twice been named the winner of the WNBA’s Kim Perrot Sportsmanship Award…she won it outright in 2010 and shared the honor with Chicago’s Swin Cash in 2013.
She was named the WNBA’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2012, receiving the award an unprecedented five times – in 2005, 2006, 2009, 2010 and 2012…Catchings was second in WNBA MVP balloting in 2002, 2009 and 2010, and has finished among the top three in balloting for the WNBA MVP Award in seven of her 14 active pro seasons…she has finished among the top five in MVP balloting in 10 of 14 active seasons, asserting herself as one of the world’s premier players…she has scored in 421 of 423 games played in her pro career…she is a 10-time WNBA All-Star and a 12-time All-WNBA recipient…she has earned WNBA Player of the Week honors 22 times, more than any player in league history.
She has averaged 16.4 points, 7.5 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 2.4 steals per game during her career… Catchings led the Fever in points per game, rebounds, assists and steals in each of her first six active pro seasons and again in 2010 and 2011 – no other WNBA player has led her team in as many categories in even one of those seasons.
Catchings became the WNBA’s all-time leader in steals during the 2011 season and she emerged from the 2012 season as the league’s all-time leader in free throws made…she is the only player in WNBA history to rank among Top 25 all-time leaders in points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks – and Catchings actually ranks in the Top 12 in all of them: points (6,947, 2nd), rebounds (3,153, 2nd), assists (1,422, 7th), steals (1,012, 1st) and blocks (375, 11th)…she also ranks among WNBA career leaders in free throws made (1,898, 1st) and 3-point field goals made (571, 9th)…she is the only player 6-feet or taller ranked among Top 10 WNBA assist leaders…she averages more steals per game (2.39) than any player in WNBA history with more than two seasons…Catchings owns four of the top five single-season steals figures in league history and in 2009 finished just one shy of Teresa Weatherspoon’s league record of 100 in a season (94 in 2006; 94 in 2002; 90 in 2005; 99 in 2009)…a member of the WNBA’s 10th Anniversary All-Decade Team, awarded in 2006, she is the only player in WNBA history to ever rank in the league’s top 10 in scoring, rebounding, assists, steals and blocked shots in the same season…Catchings, though, has done it twice – in 2002 and 2006…she has posted double-doubles in nearly one-fourth of her professional games (96-of-423), now third in WNBA history.