Reggie Miller shoots in the 2000 NBA Playoffs, the Indiana Fever celebrate winning the 2012 WNBA title
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Top 20 Basketball Moments at The Fieldhouse

by Mark Montieth
Pacers.com Writer
@MarkMontieth

The Fieldhouse was built for basketball, and while it has hosted numerous other sporting and non-sporting events, basketball remains its heartbeat.

Its court has been occupied by players of all ages and talents, from young kids playing at halftime of a Pacers game to future Hall of Famers in NBA playoff games. Championships have been won and lost at all levels, and the next dramatic moment is never too far ahead.

Here are our choices for the top 20 games played in the Fieldhouse since it opened in 1999:

Herb and Mel Simon at the opening of Conseco Fieldhouse

Photo Credit: Pacers Sports & Entertainment

November 6, 1999: Pacers beat Celtics in Fieldhouse debut

The first event conducted in what was then called Conseco Fieldhouse was, appropriately enough, a Pacers game. After playing their home preseason games at Market Square Arena and their first two regular season games on the road, they christened the innovative edifice with a 115-108 victory over Boston.

Boston center Vitaly Potapenko made the first field goal in the building's history and Rik Smits hit the first one for the Pacers. But Reggie Miller, appropriately enough, led the Pacers' scoring with 29 points, converting four-of-five 3-point shots along the way.

For many fans in the capacity audience, however, the most memorable part of the evening was the halftime ceremony in which the top 50 players in Indiana basketball history — as voted upon by a select panel — were honored and presented with a custom-made letterman's jacket. John Wooden, Oscar Robertson, and Larry Bird were the most prominent honorees, but several other legendary players were in attendance to create the greatest representation of the state's basketball tradition ever assembled.

The group included two active Pacers, Miller and Smits, both of whom had to strip off their jacket at the conclusion of the ceremony and jump into warmups for the second half. The significance of the moment wasn't lost on them.

"I was thinking, 'Do I really deserve this?'" Smits said. "To be part of those guys and to see John Wooden out there...it was phenomenal to be part of that. I've never been part of anything like that."

"To be around those guys...sometimes I just shake my head," Miller said.

Travis Best

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May 4, 2000: Travis Best's 3-pointer ignites trip to Finals

It's easy to forget now, but the peak moment in Pacers history, their only trip to the NBA Finals, was a jump shot away from being derailed in the first round of the playoffs and left in the dustpan of greatest disappointments.

Milwaukee gave the Pacers all they could handle in the opening round of the 2000 playoffs, winning Games 2 and 4 to force a showdown in what was then a best-of-five opening-round series. And that ultimate game went down to the ultimate minute.

The Pacers trailed throughout most of it, by as many as 10 points and by six in the fourth quarter. But Reggie Miller grabbed them by the scruff of their collective neck and brought them back, scoring 18 points in a 7 1/2-minute stretch. And then it was left to backup point guard Travis Best to yank them over the top.

Despite having hit just 2-of-14 shots, Best nailed a 3-pointer from the left corner — directly in front of Milwaukee's bench — with 16.5 seconds left to give the Pacers a two-point lead that held up in their 96-95 victory. Afterward, Larry Bird said he had not even considered taking Best out of the game despite his nightmarish shooting performance because of Best's defensive effort.

"I was going to leave him in there all the way," Bird said. "I knew he was going to get his shot sooner or later."

Best's career-defining shot stole some of the glory from Miller, who hit 15-of-25 shots in a 41-point effort that ranks as one of his greatest postseason performances.

"He's a classy pro and he showed it tonight," Milwaukee coach George Karl said. "He showed why he's one of the best players in basketball."

Added Bird: "He was phenomenal."

Had Miller been merely very good, or had Best missed that 3-point attempt, the Pacers' season and Bird's coaching career would have ended with a first-round loss to an eighth-seeded team instead of a trip to the Finals. Rather than their greatest season, it would stand as one of their greatest disappointments.

"It's funny," Best said afterward in the locker room. "We were a few seconds from being on vacation and a lot of different things going on in the summer. Now we're looking at another series. It's a big swing."

Reggie Miller

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May 6, 2000: Miller, Rose shoot down Sixers with double-barreled 40-40 effort

Less than 48 hours after the electrifying, season-saving victory over Milwaukee, the Pacers were back in the Fieldhouse on Saturday afternoon to open the second round of the playoffs against Philadelphia. And it took just five seconds for them to recapture momentum and reignite their fans.

Dale Davis controlled the opening tip to Rik Smits, who turned and passed to Reggie Miller, who hit a 3-pointer from the left wing to kick the first few rocks of a landslide that resulted in a 108-91 victory. This one was a wire-to-wire domination that was never in doubt, other than perhaps a brief jolt when the Sixers pulled within eight points midway through the fourth quarter.

Miller was spectacular once again, scoring 40 points on 11-of-18 shooting. He scored 16 points in the first quarter to lead the Pacers to a 34-15 lead and 13 more in the final 6 1/2 minutes of the game. That stretch included a flurry of 3-pointers on three consecutive possessions to assure the victory. He hit 7-of-10 3-pointers overall.

What made the game even more momentous was Jalen Rose scoring another 40 points while hitting 16-of-23 shots. It was the first time Rose had reached that plateau since high school, and would forever remain his playoff high.

"He hit some unbelievable jump shots to keep us afloat," Miller said. "Then big brother took over in the fourth."

Rose needed a strategic assist to reach 40, though. After missing two crucial free throws in the final seconds of the win over Milwaukee two nights earlier, he needed a confidence-boost at the foul line. So, when the opportunity to shoot three technical free throws availed itself after Allen Iverson was ejected with 2:53 left, and the outcome safely in hand, Bird and Miller agreed that Rose should shoot them — rather than Miller, the team's best free throw shooter.

Rose hit them all, and the Pacers were off and running again.

Reggie Miller, Rik Smits, and Mark Jackson

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June 16, 2000: Pacers dominate Lakers in farewell appearance

The postseason momentum from their last game against Milwaukee and first game against Philadelphia carried the Pacers all the way to the Finals, where they met the NBA's most dominant team. The Los Angeles Lakers had finished the regular season with a 67-15 record and featured league MVP Shaquille O'Neal and future MVP Kobe Bryant.

Decided underdogs, the Pacers surprised a lot of people by remaining competitive. After losing badly in Game 1 they lost Game 2 by just three points and won Game 3 back at the Fieldhouse by nine. The turning point of the series came in Game 4, when they fell by two points in overtime, giving the Lakers a 3-1 lead.

With the sixth and seventh games to be played in Los Angeles, if necessary, Game 5 was likely to be the final in-person viewing of the core players on the teams that had reached the Eastern Conference Finals five times in the previous seven years. Indeed, the series would end with a Lakers victory in Los Angeles in Game 6. But the Pacers made a lasting final impression in their 120-87 victory.

While the Lakers could relax in the comfort of the opportunities that awaited them to win the championship on their home court back in L.A. and therefore lacked an edge, the Pacers played with reckless abandon. They scored 39 points in the first quarter while hitting 15-of-20 field goal attempts, including all six 3-pointers, and never looked back. Jalen Rose led the scoring with 32 points, 22 in the first half, and Reggie Miller added 25.

"We played as well as we could play," Bird said.

It was the final game Bird would coach at The Fieldhouse, having announced his intention to step down before the season began. It also was the last the fans would see of Mark Jackson and Rik Smits in a Pacers uniform, and the last they would see of Dale Davis until he was brought back five years later.

It was, then, a fond farewell to an era.

Tipoff of the first WNBA game at The Fieldhouse

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June 3, 2000: Fever make Fieldhouse debut

One day after the Pacers won the playoff game in New York that sent them to the NBA Finals for the first time, the Indiana Fever played their first home game at The Fieldhouse.

It almost seemed inconsequential that the Fever lost to Orlando, 88-82, after squandering a 15-point first-half lead. A crowd of 12,575 came out to inaugurate a new era of basketball in Indiana, proving to young girls throughout the state that they could dream of a professional basketball career, too. Alicia Thompson led the scoring with 22 points, 20 in the first half. Future Fever coach Stephanie White was among the double-figure scorers with 12.

"This is an exciting day, an historic day and a day long in the coming to finally have a women's professional basketball team in Indiana," said WNBA president Val Ackerman, who attended the game. "I couldn't think of a more perfect place to have a WNBA team."

Interim coach Anne Donovan directed the opener. Nell Fortner had signed to be the head coach but was busy coaching the U.S. Olympic women's team that would win a gold medal in Australia. Fortner attended the debut, however, and while disappointed in the outcome the greater meaning of the game wasn't lost on her.

"I thought that in the first half they played strong and confident; I just wish we would have held on," she said. "I thought it was a super atmosphere. I thought the fans were excited and I think they'll come back. They saw a team that fought, and I think that's important."

A new branch of Hoosier Hysteria had sprouted.

Purdue celebrates winning in the Wooden Tradition

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November 5, 2000: Purdue upsets No. 1 Arizona in Wooden Tradition

Purdue didn't have a great season in 2000-01, but it had a great victory on its way to a 17-15 record. In its second game, after losing a home game to Central Michigan, it upset No. 1-ranked Arizona in the inaugural John Wooden Tradition at the Fieldhouse, 72-69.

The Boilermakers had no future NBA players while Arizona had four: Gilbert Arenas, Richard Jefferson, Loren Woods, and Luke Walton. The Wildcats would go on to reach the championship game of the NCAA Tournament, where they lost to Duke, but they were no match for Purdue on this day. They had just played three games in a tournament in Hawaii and could have made an excuse out of that, but did not.

"We just got out-toughed by Purdue," Arizona coach Lute Olson said.

Wooden, who had led Martinsville High School to a state championship in 1929 and Purdue to a mythical national championship in 1932 before coaching UCLA to 10 titles, was on hand, along with 17,523 fans. He presented a trophy to the Boilermakers afterward.

Notre Dame defeated Cincinnati, 69-51, in the other game of the doubleheader. Future Pacers forward Troy Murphy led the Irish with 30 points.

Yugoslavia wins 2002 FIBA World Championship

Photo Credit: Pacers Sports & Entertainment

September 8, 2002: Yugoslavia wins FIBA World Championship

The disappointment of the United States team's sixth-place finish in the World Basketball Championship depleted much of the interest of American fans, but the gold medal game didn't disappoint anyone based on the talent and passion displayed by Yugoslavia and Argentina.

Yugoslavia's 84-77 overtime victory came before an announced crowd of more than 17,000, but about 12,000 in reality. That group, however, made as much noise to fill an arena for an NBA playoff game, and the players lived up to the moment.

Peja Stojakovic, who would play 40 games for the Pacers in the 2005-06 season, led Yugoslavia's scoring with 26 points.

"I'm a proud member of this team," said Stojakovic, who was playing for the Sacramento Kings at the time of the tournament. "I'm proud we can continue the Yugoslavian basketball tradition and I'm proud to say I'm a world champion."

Another future Pacer, Luis Scola, scored 11 points for Argentina, whose lineup also featured a 25-year-old guard named Manu Ginobili, who was about to begin his rookie season in the NBA.

The U.S. team featured two current Pacers, Reggie Miller and Jermaine O'Neal, and a former Pacer, Antonio Davis. That group lost to Yugoslavia by three points in the quarterfinals and finished sixth.

Jermaine O'Neal

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January 4, 2005: Jermaine O'Neal sets Fieldhouse scoring record

The record was there for the taking if Jermaine O'Neal wanted it. Just a couple of more baskets in the final 1:44 and it was his.

O'Neal, however, thought 55 points were enough and gracefully exited (to a standing ovation) what turned out to be a 116-99 victory over Milwaukee. Three points short of George McGinnis' franchise scoring record and two points short of Miller's NBA franchise scoring record, O'Neal settled for the Fieldhouse scoring record that still stands.

"The game was over," O'Neal said. "I don't want to try to set records. It really means nothing to me. We don't want to throw it in another team's face. You want to show a lot of sportsmanship, and obviously the game was over at that point."

Milwaukee was an easy target for such an outburst. Two of its centers were injured and it was concluding a four-game road trip. It would go on to finish the season with a 30-52 record. Still, 55 points is impressive total under any circumstance. And it's to O'Neal's credit that he valued sportsmanship over individual glory.

March 26, 2005: Luke Zeller hits halfcourt game-winner at the buzzer for state championship

Luke Zeller provided one of the all-time classic storybook endings in the state high school tournament when he hit a halfcourt shot at the buzzer to give Washington a 74-72 overtime victory over Plymouth in the 3A championship game.

Had it not been muddied by the waters of the multiclass system, it would stand even taller in the lore of Hoosier Hysteria.

Zeller, a Notre Dame recruit and McDonald's All-American, did more than hit the game-winning shot, however. He finished with 27 points while hitting 8-of-13 field goal attempts, grabbed nine rebounds, and passed out 11 assists.

His final basket, though, was one for the ages.

Zeller asked Washington coach Dave Omer for the final shot during the timeout that preceded his laser beam and promised to make it. After the ball was inbounded to him with 1.8 seconds remaining, he took one dribble and stepped into history.

"I didn't want anybody else on the team to have it on their shoulders," Zeller said. "Win or lose, I wanted to have it. If I missed, I wanted it to be on me. It worked out."

Reggie Miller

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May 19, 2005: Reggie Miller plays his last game

At least it ended in a warm home, rather than someone else's sterile house.

Reggie Miller's 18-season career had begun on Nov. 6, 1987, in Philadelphia. It was bound to end sometime, and it was clearly going to end in 2005 as Miller had decided long before then he would not play after turning 40. Although he officially announced his impending retirement during the season, he had tipped his hand a few times before it began.

The only questions were when and where? The Pacers had been a title contender heading into Miller's final season, but the events at the Palace of Auburn Hills in November decimated the roster and made mere playoff participation a worthy goal. The Pacers accomplished that, knocking out Boston in seven games in the first round and advancing to face Detroit.

Hopes were raised when they took a 2-1 lead, but consecutive losses sent the series back to The Fieldhouse for Game 6, with the Pistons needing just one more victory to clinch. If the Pacers weren't going to win the series, their 88-79 loss was at least the best way for Miller to go out. Better at home than on an opponent's court before opposing fans.

Having struggled in Games 4 and 5 of the series, Miller rose to the occasion by leading the Pacers with 27 points. His final field goal with 1:21 left brought them within three points of the lead, but they couldn't close. He received a rousing standing ovation when he was pulled from the game by coach Rick Carlisle with 15.7 seconds, and Detroit coach Larry Brown — who had coached Miller for four seasons — called a timeout to extend the celebration for the 18-season veteran.

Stephen Jackson was the most emotional and eloquent Pacer afterward.

"I was just trying to keep it together," he said. "I was blessed to get a championship in my third year. To see him go without one, it hurts. It really hurts. When you meet someone who genuinely loves the game and comes and gives 110 percent every night and they fall short, it hurts because there aren't too many guys like Reggie."

Yes, Miller retired without a championship. But he took hard-earned satisfaction with him into his next life.

"I played hurt and I always gave my best," he said. "That's all you can ever ask of a professional athlete."

March 22, 2008: Gordon Hayward's shot wins Brownsburg's first state title

Sometimes fate lands in your hands. Gordon Hayward, for one, knew just what to do with it.

Brownsburg trailed Marion 39-38 in the 4A state championship game after Scott Wood hit a 3-pointer for the Giants. After a timeout, the Bulldogs had one last chance with 2.1 seconds left. The 75-foot inbound pass was tipped into the hands of Hayward, who quickly converted a shot in the lane to give his school its first state championship.

"I don't know how I was open or how I caught it," the baby-faced Hayward said afterward. "But it just went in. I guess that's all that happened."

It wouldn't be the last game Hayward would play in the Fieldhouse. Not by a long shot. After a two-season career at Butler, where he nearly hit a halfcourt shot that won the national championship for those Bulldogs, he became the ninth overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft. He's since made regular visits with Utah and Boston.

March 15, 2009: Purdue wins Big Ten tournament with 65-61 win over Ohio State

The Big Ten tournament has become a major part of the Fieldhouse's repertoire, a highlight of the schedule in the years it is played in Indianapolis.

The only state school to win the event has been Purdue, which defeated Ohio State for the championship in 2009, 65-61, before 12,526 fans.

The Boilermakers were a No. 3 seed, having finished two games behind Michigan State and tied with Illinois for second in the Big Ten. They defeated sixth-seeded Penn State and the second-seeded Illini on their way to the title game, where their balance paid off. E'Twaun Moore led their scoring with 17 points, followed by Jajuan Johnson with 16 and Robbie Hummel with nine points, 11 rebounds, and five assists. Ohio State was led by future Pacer Evan Turner with 22 points.

Purdue's glory was diluted somewhat by the announcement of the NCAA tournament pairings immediately following the event. It was disappointed to be seeded fifth in the immediate aftermath of a great accomplishment but went on to reach the Sweet Sixteen before losing to Connecticut.

2009 WNBA Finals

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October 7, 2009: Fever host first WNBA Finals game before sellout crowd

The setting was picture-perfect for a wild evening. The Fever had a 2-1 lead on Phoenix and an opportunity to clinch the WNBA championship on their home court. Champagne was on ice. A capacity crowd of 18,165 was on hand, including local celebrities such as Peyton Manning, Reggie Wayne and other Colts players.

The Fever failed to rise to the occasion in their 90-77 loss to Phoenix, sending the series back to Arizona where the Mercury won Game 5 and the league title.

Tamika Catchings led the Fever with 24 points and 12 rebounds, not to mention four assists and three steals, Ebony Hoffman added 17 points on 7-of-10 shooting and Tammy Sutton-Brown hit 5-of-10 shots. The rest of the Fever players, however, made 6-of-34 shots, and overall the team hit just 2-of-18 3-pointers.

Still, the game qualified as a breakthrough, the first big-stage moment in the 10-year history of the franchise and one that turned out to be a growing pain toward a greater accomplishment.

"The atmosphere was so wonderful that hopefully people will come back and watch us next year," Catchings said.

March 13, 2011: Ohio State sweeps Big Ten tournament for second straight year

Ohio State's victory over Penn State for the Big Ten Tournament championship made a couple of statements.

One, it showed the Buckeyes were the conference's premier program at the time. Its 2011 title was its second in a row and would be one of three in a four-year period. And, it showed the Fieldhouse was the ideal location for the event.

Even without Indiana or Purdue playing in the tournament finals, attendance for the championship game was 15,770. The five-session total was 86,767, best since 2006, when Ohio State won the title at the Fieldhouse.

"When nearly 87,000 people attend the games over the last four days, I think it says something about basketball in Indiana," said Rick Fuson, the CEO of Pacers Sports and Entertainment. "I think it just shows that (Indianapolis) is the place to keep it."

Ohio State's tournament title in 2010 was led by future Pacer Evan Turner, who set a single-game scoring record with 31 points on 12-of-18 shooting in the 90-61 final game victory over Minnesota. Turner earlier had hit a 37-foot shot at the buzzer to beat Michigan and hit crucial baskets that forced a first and second overtime period in a win over Illinois.

The five-year contract for the Fieldhouse to host the tournament ran one more year. Since then it has alternated sites but returned to Indianapolis in 2014 and '16 and will do so again in 2020 and '22.

Danielle Adams after Texas A&M wins 2011 NCAA title

Photo Credit: Getty Images

April 5, 2011: Texas A&M holds off Notre Dame for NCAA championship

Sophomore Skylar Diggins, a former Indiana Miss Basketball from South Bend, led one giant-killing victory but wasn't quite able to pull off a second as Notre Dame lost to Texas A&M in the championship game of the NCAA women's tournament.

Diggins had scored 28 points to lead an upset victory over two-time defending champion Connecticut in the semifinals, but her 23 points weren't enough in A&M's 76-70 victory before 17,473 fans at the Fieldhouse.

Aggies center Danielle Adams scored 30 points and grabbed nine rebounds to lead her school's first national championship.

"It was an awesome run by the team," Diggins said. "We showed a lot of heart and courage to beat a great team (Connecticut), but we wanted to finish it off."

Diggins would go on to lead Notre Dame to the final game again the following year, where it lost to Baylor, and then to the Final Four again as a senior, where it lost to Connecticut. She was the third pick in the WNBA draft following her senior season and is a four-time WNBA All-Star.

Her performance in Indianapolis thrust her into the national spotlight, and she hasn't left.

Fever win 2012 WNBA title

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October 21, 2012: Fever defeat Minnesota for WNBA championship

The experience gained from the 2009 homecourt loss to Phoenix paid off for some of the Fever players when they got another shot at clinching a championship on their homecourt in 2012. This time, they were ready for the moment.

Their 87-78 victory over Minnesota, the defending champion, ended the best-of-five series in four games and brought the city its first professional championship since the Pacers won the American Basketball Association title in 1973. An audience of 15,213 witnessed it.

Naturally is was Catchings, by then a 33-year-old veteran of 11 WNBA seasons, who led the way. Her 25 points and eight assists earned her Finals MVP honors and a just reward for all her sacrifices.

"This journey has been so full of ups and downs, tears and happy faces, and today we stand with happy faces," Catchings said. "We came out with a lot of adrenaline, a lot of momentum that carried over from Game 3. Across the board, everybody contributed."

That group included owner Herb Simon, general manager Kelly Krauskopf and coach Lin Dunn, all of whom experienced their professional championship.

"On paper, we're not supposed to win this series," Dunn said. "They've got three Olympians, we've got one (Catchings). They've got a longer bench. But our players played so focused in on winning the championship."

December 15, 2012: Butler beats top-ranked IU in overtime in Crossroads Classic

After reaching the final game of the NCAA Tournament in 2010 and 2011 with stunning climbs to the top, it seemed Butler's Cinderella moments were over. Those two were enough for a lifetime.

Brad Stevens had another one left in him in 2012, though, his final season with Butler before leaving to coach the Boston Celtics. His Bulldogs upset No. 1-ranked Indiana in the Crossroads Classic at the Fieldhouse, 88-86, in overtime. They did it about as dramatically as possible, too.

Sophomore Alex Barlow, a walk-on playing only because three teammates had fouled out, hit a floater off the rim with 2.5 seconds left to give Butler its first victory over a top-ranked team in school history.

"You grow up, backyard, with your hoop, just dreaming of playing this No. 1 team, last-second shot, shooting it," Barlow said. "Not in my wildest dreams did I think that would actually be reality."

None of Butler's players from this team went on to play in the NBA, but Indiana had two lottery picks. Victor Oladipo went second in the draft and Cody Zeller fourth. Both scored 18 points in this game, but the Bulldogs had more balance.

David West, George Hill

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May 18, 2013: Pacers come together to advance to Eastern Conference Finals

The Pacers teams that reached the Eastern Conference Finals in 2013 and 2014 were built on balance and teamwork, with five starters equally capable of leading a victory. That was never more joyously obvious than in the Game 6 second-round-clinching victory over New York at The Fieldhouse.

Lance Stephenson scored a career-high 25 points, hitting 9-of-13 shots, and grabbed 10 rebounds to lead a 106-99 victory over the Knicks that brought symmetry to the series. All five starters led the scoring in at least one game. David West (20 points) led in Game 1, followed by Paul George (20), Roy Hibbert (24), George Hill (26), George again (23), and Stephenson.

Appropriately, all five starters scored in double figures in the Game 6 victory. Stephenson's steal, foul-drawing layup, and free throw for a three-point play was the clinching play, but all the others made key contributions. Hibbert, for example, blocked Carmelo Anthony's dunk attempt with about five minutes left, a caught-on-camera moment that produced a classic photograph. He also had 21 points and 12 rebounds. George finished with 23 points on 9-of-15 shooting, five rebounds, and four assists. West had 17 points, five rebounds, and four assists. Hill scored 12 points and had just one turnover in 42 minutes.

Carmelo Anthony scored 39 points for the Knicks, but individual brilliance wasn't enough to tip the balanced Pacers.

"This is the most together group I've been a part of," West said. "I made the observation, at some point every day every guy speaks to every guy on this team. And I've been on teams where that's not the case. Everybody has a conversation at some point throughout the day, and that's huge for us, especially in tough situations.

"We don't talk about it, we practice it. We don't have any egos. We don't have any 'I' guys. We have a bunch of 'we' guys."

Tamika Catchings

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Sept. 18, 2016: Catchings honored in final regular season game

Like Reggie Miller 11 years earlier, Tamika Catchings' final regular season game was a landmark event at the Fieldhouse, marking the end of an era.

Catchings was 37 years old and a veteran of 15 seasons when she called an end to her career with the Fever, and an announced crowd of 17,704 — the second-largest regular season turnout in franchise history — paid tribute. That group included Lin Dunn, who had coached the Fever's championship team four years earlier, Miller, Paul George, and more than 20 members of Catchings' extended family. George purchased 5,000 balcony seats to hand out to fans. White T-shirts with the words "#24 Forever" were passed out to all fans.

The Fever won, 83-60, as Catchings scored 16 points on 5-of-16 shooting. That was overshadowed by her career, in which she finished as the WNBA's all-time leader in steals, free throws, and rebounds and second in scoring. And that was overshadowed by her influence and popularity beyond basketball.

That point was made clear many times throughout the postgame farewell ceremony. Jim Morris, vice chairman of Pacers Sports and Entertainment, presented her with a $100,000 check for her foundation and a new Lexus. Several league and local dignitaries, including Mayor Joe Hogsett, also spoke. Tears flowed freely, from teammates, coaches and fans.

All for the player who overcame a hearing loss and speech impediment as a child to become one of the greatest women to play the game.

"Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine I'd be here and doing this," Catchings said.

Her career came to an anti-climactic and official end three days later when the Fever lost a single-elimination playoff game to Phoenix at the Fieldhouse, 89-78. She finished with 13 points, 10 rebounds, and three steals.

March 1, 2018: IU women win four-overtime thriller in Big Ten Tournament

It was just a second-round matchup between the No. 7 seed and the No. 10 seed, so expectations were low. The result, however, was incredible.

Indiana's 111-109 victory over Michigan State in four overtimes turned out to be the longest game in Fieldhouse history, requiring 60 minutes of playing time to settle upon a winner.

Meanwhile, senior forward Amanda Cahill turned in one of the greatest individual performance in the building's history with 38 points on 1 4-of-20 shooting from the field, including 5-of-7 3-pointers, nine rebounds, six assists, and four blocks.

She also scored the game-winning points on two free throws with four seconds left in the final overtime. And, she scored the basket as the buzzer sounded in the second overtime to send the game to a third.

IU had lost seven of its eight games in Big Ten tournament play, and it would lose the next one as well. Playing less than 24 hours later, it lost to 17th-ranked Maryland, 67-54. But the memory of its literal shining hour won't be forgotten

Kelsey Mitchell

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September 8, 2019: Kelsey Mitchell ends Fever season with record-setting performance

The Fever finished the 2019 season with a 13-21 record, but they shut it down with a peak moment that offered hope for better days.

Their 104-76 victory over Connecticut, the No. 2 seed in the WNBA playoffs, featured a 38-point performance by second-year guard Kelsey Mitchell, the second overall pick of the 2018 draft. Her point total set a Fever record in regular season games and the nine 3-pointers it contained set a WNBA standard.

Connecticut rested its starters in the second half in preparation for the playoffs, but Mitchell did most of her damage in the first half — 30 points and seven 3-pointers.

"I just felt like it was any other game," said Mitchell, who started after coming off the bench the previous 15 games because of an injury. "Obviously I'm a competitor so my goal is always to win and put my team in position to win. I just try to play my role as best as possible."

Connecticut structured its defense to contain Mitchell in the second half, but that created opportunities for teammates such as rookie Teaira McCowan, who scored 17 points and grabbed nine rebounds to set a Fever single-season rebounding record.

The game had added significance because it was the last for the Fever at The Fieldhouse until 2022 because of summer renovations.


Have a question for Mark? Want it to be on Pacers.com? Email him at askmontieth@gmail.com and you could be featured in his next mailbag.

Mark Montieth's book on the formation and groundbreaking seasons of the Pacers, "Reborn: The Pacers and the Return of Pro Basketball to Indianapolis," is available in bookstores throughout Indiana and on Amazon.com.

Note: The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Indiana Pacers. All opinions expressed by Mark Montieth are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Indiana Pacers, their partners, or sponsors.

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