Tamika Catchings lights up the floor on last trip to LA

Los Angeles, Calif. – In Tamika Catchings’ last regular-season appearance here before she retires, she performed as she always has: relentlessly.

The 15th year forward scored 16 points for the Indiana Fever, and came close to engineering an upset of the league-leading Sparks.

Though the Los Angeles franchise didn’t formally recognize her, Sparks coach Brian Agler gave Catchings kudos after the game for her game and style of play.

“I congratulated her on her career and I told her that I hope to see you again in the playoffs, as that will mean good things for you and your team,” Agler said. “But I don’t want to see you again……because she’s a tough player to play. She’s tough to defend, she’s a tough match up.”

Catchings is the WNBA’s all-time steals leader, and is the second-leading scorer and rebounder. She has only 25 more rebounds to overtake leader Lisa Leslie. Agler is confident Catchings will surpass the record.

“She’ll probably go down as the greatest competitor in our league, and that’s saying a lot, because we’ve had a lot of great competitors,” he said. “Why I like and enjoy her so much is that she impacts the game on both ends of the floor. She’s probably the greatest defender that’s ever played, on and off the ball. She’s so versatile.”

“I’d say she and (retired guard) Katie Smith are the greatest defenders our league has probably ever seen.”

All photos by Mark Hammond.