Recapping the Fever’s 2012 Championship Run: Championship Takeaways

By Brendan Rourke

The 2012 Indiana Fever team brought a professional basketball trophy back to the state of Indiana for the first time since 1973 when the Pacers won their final ABA title. The victory over the vaunted Minnesota Lynx brought a sense of community and pride to the city of Indianapolis. The squad would return to the Finals in 2015. However, the Lynx earned the upper hand in that matchup, taking home the trophy with a 3-2 series win.

Indiana made another playoff appearance in 2016, marking a run of 12 straight playoff appearances. Unfortunately, the squad was bounced in the first round by a hungry Phoenix Mercury team in a single-game series. They have not returned to the playoffs since.

One obvious takeaway is that winning a championship is difficult in any professional sport. Teams have to battle through adversity and get lucky along the way. Take the Fever’s second game in the Eastern Conference Finals, for example. Shavonte Zellous’ jumper falls through the net with 0.5 seconds left to stave off elimination and force a third game. The shot never happens if Allison Hightower hits her free throw. Additionally, if Zellous had misfired, overtime could have produced different circumstances.

That’s why it is important to commemorate the teams that pull off the near-impossible. A championship trophy shows future teams that the pinnacle of success is achievable while donning the Fever jersey. It shows they can do it again.

The Fever’s championship run was by no means a one-person effort. Yes, the squad had a legendary player in Tamika Catchings, whom others could lean on in times of struggle. However, this team would not have secured the championship without her go-to supporters in Zellous, Katie Douglas, Erlana Larkins, and Briann January. This is especially true during the Finals after Douglas remained sidelined due to a severe ankle sprain she suffered against the Sun. When Douglas fell, others rallied. For example, in that game, Jeanette Pohlen added a bench-high 14 points to help earn a berth into the Finals. This goes to show that all players contributed during pivotal moments of the championship run. The team played for, and believed in, each other from May to October.

In the present, the Fever have not had the same success as in years past. However, the squad is quietly piecing together another solid roster for the future. In 2018, the Fever selected Kelsey Mitchell, who has turned into a star for the squad. In 2022, she averaged a career-high 18.4 points and 4.2 assists per game, proving she can be a reliable veteran leader. During the 2022 draft, Indiana selected NaLyssa Smith and Queen Egbo in the first round. Smith, who averaged 13.5 points and 7.9 rebounds per game during her rookie campaign has the makings of a solid starting forward as she learns the league. Egbo, a 6-4 center, averaged 7.2 points, 6.3 boards, and 1.2 blocks per contest during her rookie campaign. Together, this trio can anchor the squad and bring them back to the playoffs.

Of course, the chase for another championship could take time. It took eight seasons of making the playoffs for the Fever to finally reach the apex. Eight seasons of almost before the pieces of the puzzle fit perfectly. Nonetheless, the 2012 squad proved that the Fever organization has the capabilities to reach the championship. And it gives this new roster a reason to fight on.

Fear not, Fever fans, another trophy could be on its way to Indianapolis again.