KEY POINTS

  • Tamika Catchings is a four-time Olympic gold medalist
  • Catchings won the 2011 WNBA MVP
  • Growing up, the WNBA legend dreamed of playing in the NBA

WNBA legend and Class of 2020 Basketball Hall of Famer Tamika Catchings had always believed she would become an NBA player—yes, you read that right.

In her Hall of Fame induction speech on Saturday, Catchings shared the story of telling her parents her goal of one day becoming a professional basketball player for the men’s game, long before the WNBA came into existence.

“What was my goal? What had I written?” Catchings said of her seventh-grade self giving her parents a piece of paper containing her dream.

“‘One day, I will be a professional basketball player in the NBA. Yes, the NBA,” she proudly continued.

Born in 1979, the 6-foot-1 forward grew up witnessing the NBA’s golden rise to popularity in the 80s where stars like Magic Johnson, Larry Bird and Michael Jordan defined the league.

It was a dream set long before the WNBA was established, and Catchings, being so attached to hoops, had set her ultimate ambition as straightforward as she could.

This is why when the WNBA finally became a reality in 1997, one could imagine how ecstatic the Tennessee product got.

“My initial goal of being in the NBA, well, is shifted to being in the WNBA and playing alongside some of my [role models] Lisa [Leslie], Cynthia [Cooper], Dawn [Staley]. The slogan ‘We Got Next’ was embedded in my brain,” Catchings said of the women’s pro league’s first-ever tagline.

“I felt that the league was invented just for me,” she exclaimed. “Thank you to the late [former NBA commissioner] David Stern, [NBA commissioner] Adam Silver, and [first WNBA president] Val Ackerman for making this dream a reality.”

Catchings went on to become the third overall pick of the 2001 WNBA Draft by the Indiana Fever, the franchise she would spend the rest of her glorious career with.

In her 15-year career, the 41-year-old would become a five-time Defensive Player of the Year, 10-time All-Star, and 12-time all-WNBA selection.

She eventually booked her place in history, becoming the league’s all-time playoffs leader in points, rebounds and steals.

“Basketball chose me, an awkward, lanky, introverted tomboy born with a hearing disability, a speech impairment, and a will to overcome obstacles, dream big, and to change the world,” the 2011 league MVP shared.

A four-time Olympic gold medalist, Catchings would seal her career with the 2012 WNBA title, upsetting a then-powerhouse Minnesota Lynx team.

Never did Catchings thought she would be inducted into the Hall of Fame, let alone becoming one of the greatest all-time WNBA players in its 25-year existence.

“I never dreamed of being a Hall of Famer,” she mentioned.

But believing in herself led Catchings to her moment—alongside a distinguished class that includes the late Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett and more.

Tamika Catchings WNBA Olympics
Tamika Catchings of Team USA in the 2016 Rio Olympics. FIBA.basketball
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