Catchings Re-Assumes Floor Leader Status
By Marissa Johnson | August 17, 2012
It wasn’t the Olympic podium, but that didn’t stop Tamika Catchings from proudly displaying her gold medal to a standing ovation of almost 7,000 adoring fans at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Not even a week after winning her third Olympic gold medal in London, Tamika Catchings stepped on the basketball court once again Thursday night. This time, she traded the USA on the front of her jersey for her more common Indiana Fever uniform.
After a five-week break, Catchings is finally home, the team is together and they are ready to start the second half of the season.
Before Thursday’s against the Washington Mystics, Catchings was welcomed by gold-medal congratulatory video messages from Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard, Pacers coach Frank Vogel and Pacers center Roy Hibbert and veteran Indianapolis Colts star Antoine Bethea. Other notable messages came from Pacers broadcasters Clark Kellogg and Quinn Buckner, a former Olympian himself; and former Colts star Peyton Manning, a Catchings friend dating to their days together at the University of Tennessee.
Catchings then stood at center court proudly displaying her gold medal and posing for pictures with Mystics assistant coach Jennifer Gillom, who also was an assistant coach for the U.S. women’s Olympic basketball team.
It was both a beginning and an end for Catchings. It was the end of her third Olympic journey – mission accomplished. But it was the beginning of the second half of the Fever season and its push to the playoffs.
Catchings continued where she left off with the Fever in mid-July, recording her fourth double-double of the season with 14 points and 14 rebounds. Fittingly, the double-double accomplishment was the 76th of her career, tied for the third-most in league history.
The 84-66 win over Washington put the Fever at 11-7 on the season and 1-0 post-Olympic break. For Catchings her focus is winning a WNBA championship with her teammates.
Her team is happy to have her back and she is happy to be back.
“There is just something about being at home and being with your team,” Catchings said.
Catchings will forever be remembered as a three-time Olympic gold medalist, but more importantly right now she is the leader of the Indiana Fever.