Harvey Catchings is the new National Basketball Association (NBA) director of player programs. Catchings was a teammate of NBA legend Julius Erving on the Philadelphia 76ers during the 1970s and is also a successful businessman outside of the NBA. His daughter, Tamika Catchings, is the premiere women's National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) college basketball player and last year won the Atlanta Tip Off Club's Naismith Player of the Year award, given to the best women's college hoops player. After she graduates from the University of Tennessee in summer 2001 Tamika is expected to be the first pick in the Women's National Basketball Association's (WNBA) draft. Catchings talks here with Urban Sports Network about playing and working for the NBA and his daughter's rising career.
What do you bring to your new position in the NBA?
I feel that I have a lot to offer the players because I was able to be successful on the basketball court and off the basketball court. These players have so much thrown at them today in terms of agents, contracts and endorsements. It can be challenging for young players in the league and older players to handle everything. I want to help them.
Does the NBA do enough to help its players?
In a company like General Motors you work hard, put in your years and you get a watch and a pension. With the NBA I think it should be different and I think the NBA recognizes this. The players are what makes the league grow and spurs its popularity. I think the NBA has done a lot to help its players but I think the league recognizes it needs to do more.
A lot of what you will do in you new position will be helping young NBA players. What is the biggest obstacle for young basketball players coming into the NBA?
That's a good question. I think the toughest thing to deal with for these players is learning to adjust to not being the main man. When they get in the NBA they are coming up against the best and they might not be used to riding the bench or not being the best. Some players have really big heads and they need to learn about being a team player.
What do you think about players entering the NBA straight from high school?
I am against it. I personally think that basketball players should head to college. There is a lot about the game, and being a member of a team, that they could learn there. Plus having an education is important.
Your daughter, Tamika Catchings, is the premiere women's college basketball player. What role do you want to play in her basketball career?
With Tamika I am just on the sidelines. I sit back, watch and enjoy. She is great. I enjoy rooting for her. I think the media tries to humanize a lot of athletes by showing their family and how they act with them. I just want to stay in the background.
What are your thoughts on the surge in women's sports?
I think it's great and I am really excited about. I am so glad that my daughter gets to be a part of it and I think the sky is the limit for these female athletes. For sports it is an exciting time to be around since so much is going on.
How was it playing with Dr. J?
Oh... that was one of the highlights of my career. He was a great man to play with and a great man to be around. Of course playing with someone so great was fun. A lot of people don't know this about Julius Erving, but off the court he was one of the most sensitive and caring people I've ever come across.