LET THE RECORD show that I came prepared for my interview with Tamika Catchings. I whiled away days on Lexis Nexis and pored over hazy box scores hoping they’d whisper something new.
I did my job — until I didn’t.
Fourteen minutes and 52 seconds in, I hadn’t asked her one question pertaining to the reason this piece was greenlit, the very impetus of our talk: Catchings’ induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame this weekend.
“We should probably talk about that a little bit,” I note sheepishly at the 14:53 mark. “The Hall.”
“Is that why we’re talking?” Catchings chuckles.
We’d rambled on with the rapport of old friends. First, about my sweatshirt promoting a foundation for Black equality, about my years as a soccer goalkeeper at Fordham and Southern Connecticut State universities, my mom’s point guard days at the University of Bridgeport.
Catchings wanted to hear about my “journey,” because of course she’d shine the spotlight meant for her on someone else.
She was supposed to be enshrined last year, before the undiscriminating uppercut of COVID-19 canceled the ceremony and subdued the 2021 edition.
“I’ll still have my family and friends there,” Catchings says. “It’s still going to be great. You don’t go into playing a sport to be a Hall of Famer. I just wanted to be the best that I could be, because I love it — not to be compared to anybody else.”
She isn’t anybody else, though. The odds were stacked against her from the start.