Sutton-Brown modest about her milestone

By Tom Rietmann | June 22, 2010 | Photos

Countless collisions in the lane, hard screens and opponents' elbows have taken a toll during her 10 WNBA seasons. The aches, the sprains and the tender back remind her daily of the punishment she is still absorbing after hundreds of professional games here and overseas.

So, after Tammy Sutton-Brown joined an elite group of WNBA players last Saturday night in the Indiana Fever's victory over Atlanta, you'd expect her to shout it to the high heavens. You'd expect her to embrace the accolades after all of the pain. You'd expect her to burst with pride about becoming only the fifth player in WNBA history with 3,000 points, 1,500 rebounds and 400 blocks.

It didn't happen that way. Sutton-Brown, Indiana's 32-year-old center, handled the milestone like she has everything else in her successful career. She took it in stride.

“Well, my mom was overly excited; a lot of people were overly excited,” Sutton-Brown said after Monday's practice. “I'm honored to be in a category with those great players. Maybe after I'm done playing, it will really sink in and I'll realize: 'You know what, I did good.' ''

Fever forward Tamika Catchings smiled when she was asked about her teammate's low-key reaction. Catchings knows that the other players to hit those lofty numbers -- Margo Dydek, Lisa Leslie, Lauren Jackson and Tangela Smith – are some of the best of WNBA annals.

“It's huge,” Catchings said about Sutton-Brown's piece of history. “Of course, she wouldn't say much about it because that's the kind of person she is. But it's definitely amazing.”

Sutton-Brown is in her fourth season with the Fever after six years in Charlotte. She is a two-time WNBA All-Star. She was a first-round draft pick for the Sting in 2001 after a standout career for C. Vivian Stringer's Rutgers team, which Sutton-Brown helped to the NCAA Women's Final Four in 2000.

Though modest about her accomplishments, Sutton-Brown is outgoing socially. A native of Canada and the daughter of Jamaica-born parents, she has her own Website (tammysuttonbrown.com) and her own foundation, writes a blog for the Fever website and enjoys mixing with Indiana fans.

One of her favorite activities is giving back to the community, and in July she will host her second “Spa Day” in Indianapolis in conjunction with the Julian Center women's shelter. The event provides massages, manicures and the like to women who otherwise would never have the opportunity.

“That's just something that's really important to me,” Sutton-Brown said. “What the women take away from that is really remarkable.”

The stylish Sutton-Brown, who once graced the cover of Indianapolis Woman magazine, refers to herself as a “girlie girl” off the court. On the court, however, the 6-4, 199-pound veteran is a force. This season, she is averaging 8.5 points and nearly six rebounds and two blocks a game.

Fever coach Lin Dunn has numerous times this season lauded Sutton-Brown's defensive work against opposing centers. According to Catchings, it's not an accident that the Fever center is turning in such fine performances – and saying little about it.

“She really challenged herself this year to become more of a post presence defensively,” Catchings said. “On and off the court, Tammy's a constant presence. She's not loud, not overwhelming. She's kind of like in the corner, kind of listening, quietly putting her two cents worth in.”

As Sutton-Brown's pro career heads toward its second decade, she is considering cutting back on her overseas play. She has enjoyed her winters in Korea, Russia, the Czech Republic and Turkey, but the year-around basketball robs her of much-needed recuperation time.

“I'm working that out in my mind right now,” she said about her plans to play next winter. “It's to the point I just know I need a rest. I can feel the aches and pains a little more than I used to.”

As for the WNBA, Sutton-Brown figures she will know when it's time to walk away. Whenever retirement comes, she hopes to perhaps teach in some capacity and do more volunteer work. Right now, however, there's still basketball to be played and milestones to reach.

“I never thought I'd be playing for 10 years,” she said. “But here I am, still enjoying it, still loving the game. I'm taking it one season at a time.”