Editor’s note: Seattle Times reporter Jayda Evans will have a weekly conversation with a newsmaker in the WNBA. This week she speaks with Indiana All-Star Tamika Catchings, president of the WNBA Players Association. NBA owners locked out their players July 1. Catchings speaks about how it affects the WNBA.
Seattle Times: The WNBA has 12 teams, six are owned by NBA franchises, including Indiana. Could their lockout affect the woman’s league?
Tamika Catchings: I don’t think it really is a concern. We’re keeping the WNBA and NBA separate. It’s definitely one of those things that everybody hopes they can get settled. But as far as the WNBA and NBA, we have to focus on what we’re doing and put out a great product that people will continue to come and support.
ST: Do players even ask about it to be sure that’s the case?
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TC: We don’t really talk about it. In the locker room, we just got done watching the NBA Finals and everybody is kind of on a high of talking about that. The lockout is not really talked about. It’s more the battle between Miami and Dallas.
ST: What did you think of that series?
TC: I thought Miami could have won it in four if it weren’t for certain circumstances. It just makes you realize as a player you have to play 40 minutes (WNBA) every single game. Even when you’re up with three minutes or four minutes left in a game, you’ve still got to play those four like you played the rest of the game.
ST: Did it remind you of when the Fever was in Finals and lost to Phoenix?
TC: Definitely! We went all the way to Game 5 in 2009 and you think about different games and different situations, we could’ve taken care of business and didn’t. We should have won it in Game 4 and didn’t.
ST: So, the biggest union issue with WNBA players has been whether you can wear ‘dress pants,’ and it got heated. What was up with that?
TC: (Laughs) We want to keep a level of professionalism in this league. Our presentation and how we look is definitely a big thing. Sometimes as players, managers and even president of the WNBA — you think that level should be set at certain points and bump heads because you don’t agree. We agreed it’s (jeans with) no holes, no fringe. They have to look nice.
ST: Your CBA isn’t set to expire until 2013. Do you give it any thought now?
TC: We haven’t gotten down and dirty, but we are going to have to start getting together and putting some things in motion for the future.
ST: How do you look back on the pioneering players who helped get the WNBA’s first CBA?
TC: It’s really cool. Not just those players, but the ones that even came before them — setting that tone. We continue that path. But I remember when the WNBA first came … sort of with all the running coach (Pat Summitt) had us doing at Tennessee at the time. That whole ‘We Got Next’ commercial. We would go to the court and we thought we were doing big things in college. We’d be like, ‘Yeah, we got next!’ For me, it made a statement. Like the guys, the NBA, was playing, but you better stay tuned and make sure you follow us. It was that extra attitude, but a fun one. ‘We got next! Want some of this?’