Indiana Fever forward Tamika Catchings joined Sheryl Swoopes as the only three-time winner of the 2009 WNBA Defensive Player of the Year award. In a landslide vote, a national panel of sportswriters and broadcasters cast 34 ballots for Catchings, an eight-year league veteran. Los Angeles Sparks’ Candace Parker and Atlanta Dream’s Erika de Souza, each had two votes. Catchings previously won the award in 2005 and 2006. Catchings’ 99 steals this season were one shy of the WNBA’s single-season record of 100 set by New York’s Teresa Weatherspoon in 1998. Catchings led the league in steals per game (2.91) for the fifth time.
Catchings’ 99 steals were one shy of the WNBA’s all-time, single-season record of 100 set by Teresa Weatherspoon of the New York Liberty in 1998 and gave her four of the top five marks in league history. Catchings’ 94 steals in 2002 and 2006 are tied for third most and her 90 in 2005 ranks as the fifth best figure in league history. The 99 steals also raised her career total to 631 and moved her into third place on the WNBA’s all-time list, one behind Swoopes (632) and 54 fewer than Ticha Penicheiro (the current Sacramento Monarchs player who has tallied 685).
Catchings headlines the All-Defensive First Team. She