Fever to retire Tamika Catchings’ no. 24 on Saturday

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – The Indiana Fever will honor the greatest player in franchise history this weekend.

The team will retire Tamika Catchings’ number 24 jersey during halftime of Saturday’s game with the Los Angeles Sparks at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

It’s the culmination of a long journey for Catchings in Indiana that started with her having to win over fans after she missed her entire first season recovering from a torn ACL.

“You know what’s crazy?” Catchings asked. “I talked to some of the fans and they were really disappointed that Nell [Fortner] picked me. ‘It took us a while to get over Nell, but now we like you.’  I hope so.”

Catchings is a 10-time WNBA All-Star, winning the the league MVP in 2011. She retired as the league’s all-time leader in rebounds and is number two in career points.

She will be the first player in franchise history to have her jersey retired. Her 24 banner will share the rafters along with the four Pacers’ numbers retired, but she’s more proud of the championship banner she helped to hang in 2012.

“It was a journey and a grind every single year starting in 2002,” said Catchings. “Every year fans were like, ‘is this going to be the year you win the championship?’ Yes, I hope it is.  Life happens, but we finally got that one.”

Catchings says she’s enjoying her first year of retirement. She’s running her Tea’s Me Indy Cafe and still works for the Fever.

“I enjoy the fact that I’m still part of the team,” Catchings said. “I still get the adrenaline rush from my teammates, but I wake up the next day and my body doesn’t hurt and I don’t have bruises, black eyes and busted lips.  So still being able to be a part of it from a different angle, I love it.”