The moon-shaped float members of the WNBA champion Indiana Fever were to board 90 minutes earlier found itself parked near the west entrance of Bankers Life Fieldhouse early Tuesday afternoon.
The team’s three eldest players, Tamika Catchings, Katie Douglas and Tammy Sutton-Brown, made their way to its highest point, Douglas moving more deliberately than the others due to a sprained left ankle that kept her out of the finals. Teammates and coaches joined them.
Spectators crowded in front of the float and jostled for position along Pennsylvania Avenue, many holding cellphone cameras aloft in an effort to forever freeze this wonderful moment in time.
With Douglas, 33, the Fever’s lone Indianapolis native, holding the championship trophy, players exchanged friendly dialogue with fans assembled below. A male voice from the throng yelled, “Congratulations, Fever,” which drew an immediate and heartfelt “Thank-you” from a beaming Sutton-Brown.
What was scheduled to be a victory parade from Monument Circle to the fieldhouse never materialized because of late-morning showers. Instead, the Fever moved the party indoors with about 3,000 fans becoming one ear-splitting mass inside the building’s pavilion.
Forty minutes before the rescheduled 12:30 p.m. start, the atmosphere was electric. Fans and local dignitaries, including Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard, began to
gather. Indiana coach Lin Dunn and her players kept to the side on the pavilion’s higher level. Occasionally they came into view to flash pictures of their own, a roar from the crowd heard in every instance.
Master of ceremonies Chris Denari, radio voice for Fever broadcasts, told those congregated, “We’re not letting the rain dampen this at all. Everybody get amped up, so we can celebrate the 2012 WNBA championship.”
The minutes moved slowly. Fever players, every one wearing a white championship T-shirt, granted interviews and posed for photographs. Players snapped shots of each other. Some of the pictures were silly, but all were highlighted by the smiles of champions.
Douglas couldn’t wait for the rally to begin. This is her city, her people. And even though she won a national championship at Purdue University her sophomore season 13 years earlier, what she was witnessing — and hearing — awed even her.
All content copyright ©2013 The Tribune, a division of Home News Enterprises unless otherwise noted.