Maybe it’s best Katie Douglas never got to deliver her goodbyes in person.
Having her words constantly tripped by emotion would have made for a difficult few hours for Douglas, the former Indiana Fever guard who on March 24 signed a two-year deal with the Connecticut Sun.
“When it came time for me to make my decision it was difficult because I thought and hoped I would retire with the Fever,” the former Perry Meridian and Purdue University standout said.
“The hardest part is you never really get to say goodbye in person. I would send texts to everyone. I’m really a softhearted person, and my teammates mean the world to me. I probably would have lost it; I’ll admit it.”
The majority of Douglas’ teammates currently are winding down their seasons for women’s basketball franchises overseas. This presents the obvious geographical barrier for the 6-foot left-hander to bid farewell to the hometown franchise she spent six seasons so proudly representing.
Indiana posted a regular-season record of 124-80 (.608) with Douglas on its roster from 2008 to 2013 and was 20-16 in the postseason. Naturally, the highlight of all highlights is the WNBA championship the Fever secured in 2012.
“That was such a great season, to win a championship and all the things that come with that. To be able to celebrate with the fans was really cool because those people followed us through thick and thin,” she said.
Due to a severely sprained left ankle sustained during the Eastern Conference Finals, Douglas didn’t get a chance to contribute to the ensuing WNBA Finals. The Fever would go on to defeat Minnesota 3-1 in the best-of-five series, with Douglas watching from the team’s bench. She made her presence felt as her teammates’ most vocal supporter.
Indiana’s bid for a second consecutive championship ended by being eliminated in the conference finals by Atlanta.
Douglas played only four regular-season games in 2013 because of a bulging disc in her lower back that also sidelined her for the four playoff games the Fever would play.
Drafted with the 10th overall selection in the 2001 WNBA Draft by Orlando, Douglas, like the Miracle franchise itself, moved up the coast to Connecticut before the 2003 season.
After averaging seven points as a rookie and 8.5 in 2002, Douglas has been a model of consistency and dependability, producing double-digit scoring averages 11 consecutive years.
Douglas’ second season in Indiana (2009) proved her finest statistically. She scored at a 17.6 clip while finding time to average 3.9 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.8 steals.
Helping the Fever climb the WNBA mountain three years later ensured a second trip to the White House for Douglas, who got to go in 1999 after helping lead Purdue University to the 1999 NCAA title.
Now it’s back to Uncasville, Conn., where Douglas and her Sun teammates prepare for the 2014 WNBA season.
Connecticut plays two preseason games (May 4 and May 8) against New York before facing the same Liberty squad at home on May 16 to open the 34-game regular season.
Circled in Douglas’ mind is May 29, when the Sun invade Bankers Life Fieldhouse to face Indiana. Douglas and her teammates return here July 10.
Though it promises to look strange to see Douglas defending either Tamika Catchings or Shavonte Zellous — two of her closest friends on the team — she understands the WNBA is a business.
There is a game to win. Hugs will happen later.
For an Indianapolis girl like Douglas, the approval of her three siblings, an older sister and two older brothers has helped make the transition easier.
“Obviously, they would have loved for me to stay with the Fever, but they have been nothing but supportive,” Douglas said. “That was huge.”