Since 2001, the Indiana Fever roster has known but one constant.
Tamika Catchings in many respects is the Fever. A walking, talking, screen-setting and autograph-signing embodiment of everything the WNBA franchise works hard to represent both on and away from the basketball court.
At 34, the 6-foot-1 forward knows she can’t reverse the sands of her playing hourglass and therefore isn’t going to try.
Catchings sees herself playing two more WNBA seasons beyond this one and then possibly remaining with the Fever in an administrative capacity.
“I see myself getting in a front-office role. Everybody knows I want to be a general manager. I don’t want to coach. I don’t want to be an assistant coach,” Catchings said, laughing.
“I think for me, at one point, I wanted to own a team. In the steps of possibly owning a team is being a general manager and being able to see what goes into making a team,” she continued. “A lot of it kind of compares to my (Catch The Stars) foundation. Just being able to put people in a situation where they can succeed. That translates to a team, of course. Bringing different personalities together and making everything work.”
The same basketball instincts allowing Catchings to remain one or two plays ahead of the competition as a player could serve the Fever or some other franchise well beyond 2016.
Furthermore, it never hurts for an aspiring GM to have the likes of Indiana Pacers President Larry Bird, Fever President Kelly Krauskopf and former Pacers President Donnie Walsh officed inside Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
As a former NBA superstar, Bird-turned-respected team president is particularly intriguing to Catchings.
“Just the road that he’s been on to where he is now. To be able to get advice from him,” Catchings said. “One of the things I want to do this offseason is kind of pick out some of the other GMs around the league and in different (professional sports) leagues and see what they do and how it compares to what we do here.”
Taken with the No. 3 pick in the 2001 WNBA Draft, Catchings has played a significant role in making the Fever brand attractive to fans and potential sponsors.
This season presents new challenges as Catchings and returning starters Shavonte Zellous, Erlana Larkins and point guard Briann January welcome talented newcomers in 6-1 swingman Marissa Coleman and 6-3 interior players Lynetta Kizer and rookie Natasha Howard.
“It will be a really good season for us. I feel like we have pieces that have come in and will fill the roles and fill the gaps that we have,” Catchings said.
“We got Marissa Coleman, who is a great shooter, and we’re looking for big things from her. And I really like Natasha Howard. Oh, my gosh, she’s going to be an amazing player in this league. She’s got a different skill set. She’s taller, she’s thinner, she’s crafty. She’s able to finish around the basket.”
Seventh-year Indiana coach Lin Dunn didn’t play Catchings during any of the four preseason games, which presented the latter the opportunity to view the game from a different angle.
“It’s hard because I want to be out there. And I’m trying to get comfortable playing with other players. Trying to pick out tendencies. Trying to make sure that at the end of the day you have players in a position where they can succeed,” Catchings said.
“For me it’s always been about trying to figure out what hand is she going to dribble with? What moves does she make? When is she going to pass? When is she going to shoot? Trying to feel that out while you’re on the court and not watching from the sidelines.”
Someday as a team’s general manager or president that will be the vantage point most comfortable to her.
But not here. Not now. Close game or blowout, Catchings still wants the basketball in her hands.