Indiana Fever star Tamika Catchings is inducted into the Basketball Corridor of Fame
The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame has a 10-minute countdown clock on the prompt that speakers used on Saturday night to endorse their remarks. Former Indiana Fever star Tamika Catchings left that behind with ease and passed a few minutes in an emotional address that covered her many challenges.
“Basketball picked me, a clumsy, lanky, introverted tomboy, born with a hearing impairment, a speech impairment, and a willingness to overcome obstacles, dream big and change the world,” said Catchings, speaking of Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, and Kevin Garnett joined the class of the hall of 2020.
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Catchings was the WNBA’s MVP in 2011, led the Fever to their only league title in 2012 and was five-time WNBA Defensive Player of the Year. She retired after the 2016 season and is currently the general manager and vice president of the basketball team.
Her accomplishments, impressive as they are – four Olympic gold medals, national championship with Tennessee, and WNBA titles for the fever – go way beyond the basketball court.
Catchings overcame hearing impairment as a young child and produced one of the most impressive résumés in basketball history.
“We all have dreams and goals,” she said during her introductory speech on Saturday. “And whether you are young or old, born with a disability, or have been told about the things you cannot accomplish, tonight I am sharing the same words my parents shared with me with a twist. If someone can, you can. Shoot for the stars, work hard and catch your dream. “
SEE TAMIKA’S FULL SPEECH HERE::
The fever outlined fangs even though she bore an injury. She felt like Indiana had taken a chance on her. She couldn’t influence the first year of judgment so she decided to make an impact by giving back.
At the time, Indianapolis was one of the top cities in the country for childhood obesity. When Catchings saw a need within the community, its philanthropic endeavors began.
She began in 2001 with a five-day basketball camp at the Riverside Family Center. Basketball was the catch, but Catchings also wanted kids to learn life skills, positivity, goal setting and teamwork.
The following year, in addition to the basketball camp, Catchings started the Catch on to Fitness Clinic to teach children the importance of a healthy and active lifestyle while giving them the opportunity to give something back by donating canned goods to the Gleaners Food Bank.
Then Catchings launched a mentoring program for girls that focused on fitness, youth development, and literacy.
After years of providing community services and programs, Catchings formed her nonprofit Catch the Stars Foundation in 2004.
In December, the Catch the Stars basketball camp at Warren Central High School celebrated its 20th anniversary. The children’s fitness clinic is in its 19th year. In addition to the camps, Catch the Stars is hosting a back to school celebration in the central library. In 2019, the organization delivered 1,200 backpacks with school supplies to students in class K-12.
“What am I most proud of when I’m a professional athlete and in the WNBA? It’s the foundation, ”Catchings told USA TODAY Sports. “It is great to be able to provide all individual and team services. But in five to ten years, people won’t remember it. It’s about the people who influence you on your way. “
Catchings ranks third in WNBA history with 7,380 career points, only behind Diana Taurasi (8,945) and Tina Thompson (7,488). She ranks third in rebounds (3,316), eighth in assists (1,488) and her 1,074 career steals are the most in league history – 310 more than runner-up Ticha Penicheiro.
She was a 10-time All-Star and seven-time All-WNBA first-team selection and led the fever to a WNBA record of 12 consecutive playoff appearances.
“Indiana, they hugged us,” Catchings said in April 2020. “They hugged us every single thing I started, from the foundation and all the programs to some of the fever and all the support that we got there. ” .
“Retiring and all the people who supported this, in the tea shop, everything I deal with. It just seems like I’m just one family and I love that.”
With Tamika into the Hall of Fame
Vanessa Bryant took Michael Jordan’s hand and walked off the stage. A familiar chant broke out throughout the arena as she returned to her seat.
“Kobe! Kobe! Kobe! “shouted the crowd.
With that he was officially a member of the Hall of Fame.
Kobe Bryant is now in the hall, along with contemporaries Duncan and Garnett, headlining a group of nine who received their belated and long-awaited anchoring on Saturday night, more than a year after their announcement as Class of Hall 2020.
“Right now I’m sure he’s laughing in heaven because I’ll praise him in public,” said Vanessa Bryant.
And she did, her purple dress matched the traditional color of the Los Angeles Lakers and crowned the night with the speech her husband refused to give.
“There will never be anyone like Kobe,” said Vanessa Bryant. “Kobe was unique. He was special. It was humble – out of court – but bigger than life. “
Bryant, Duncan and Garnett were in class by three-time NCAA master coach Kim Mulkey, two-time NBA master coach Rudy Tomjanovich, Catchings, three-time Final Four coach Eddie Sutton, 1000-game winner Barbara Stevens and long-time FIBA Secretary supports General Patrick Baumann.
“I appreciate you,” Garnett said to Duncan from the stage. “It is an honor to go into the hall with you, brother. You and Kobe. “
Duncan stayed true to who he is: humble and humble on a day his Spurs coach Gregg Popovich missed a game to see his anchorage.
“This is the most nervous I’ve ever been in my life,” said Duncan as he began his speech. “The final, Game 7, was officially the most nervous I’ve ever seen in my life. I’ve been walking up and down my room all day so let’s see what we get. “
As always, he delivered in the clutch.
Mulkey talked about her roots, came from a small town in Louisiana and got into the Hall of Fame – and wondered why Jordan, who held the same role for Bryant, put her up for introduction.
“Michael, I’m incredibly honored,” said Mulkey. “I think the last time we got that close we left the ’84 Olympics and we were a hell of a lot younger and probably a lot thinner. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. “
The totality of the performance of the Hall class is breathtaking.
Bryant, Garnett, Duncan and Catchings combined 58 all-star appearances. Mulkey, Tomjanovich, Sutton and Stevens together achieved more than 3,000 coaching victories. Baumann is widely recognized for his efforts to include 3×3 basketball in the Olympic program.
NBA championships, WNBA championships, national championships, Olympic gold medals, MVP awards, the class had a bit of everything.
IndyStar sports reporter David Woods, USA TODAY’s Mark Medina and The Associated Press contributed to this report today.