Here’s what we know about Mike Wells, who covers the Pacers for the Indianapolis Star…he embraces social media, is a fine dresser (especially for a newspaper guy), is always on the road, and was nearly taken out by a Houston Rockets player (along with his colleague Bob Kravitz) during last night’s game.
But, who is Mike Wells and how did he end up here? I sat down with him earlier this week to find out.
Mike Wells is friendly, open, and unassuming. He is also one of the younger writers on the Indy Star sports staff. He grew up loving basketball, playing point guard, and following the Detroit Pistons and Georgetown Hoyas (something he bonds with Pacers Center Roy Hibbert over). Wells attended college in the Seattle area and started his career there with the Associated Press. He moved on to the St. Paul Pioneer Press, where he covered the Minnesota Timberwolves until he arrived in Indianapolis in 2005.
Wells started covering the Pacers during Reggie Miller’s last season and immediately following “The Brawl.” It was a turbulent time for the team and he admits his first reaction was, “What did I get myself into?” But there was no shortage of material. Unfortunately, much of it came in the middle of the night.
Wells has covered the team as it transitioned through management, many players, and three coaches. He says his strength as a reporter has always been his ability to relate to the players and form great relationships. It’s the same thing he credits Head Coach Frank Vogel’s success to, at least in part. He is intrigued by Vogel’s optimism and his ability to channel it, no matter what. It transcends to the team and players, but Wells says Vogel also knows how to push their buttons at the right time.
What Wells finds most surprising about this season is how the team has survived, even thrived…during star forward Danny Granger’s absence. The other surprise? Paul George. Like fans, Wells has watched George’s development from rookie to team leader and presumed All Star in awe.
“All of the sudden, he just flips the switch. From a journalistic standpoint, he’s been a hell of a story.”
Wells enjoys engaging with fans on social media, though he was reluctant to at first and admits he joined Twitter as a job requirement. He says the one thing fans don’t understand about him, is that he doesn’t work for the team.
“I’m not a homer. I’m not going to be Frank Vogel and pull a positive out of every situation, because I’m disrespecting my job when I do that.”
Wells says the advice he was given early on was, “If everybody likes you, you’re doing something wrong.” That being said, Wells says he’s rarely had anybody from the team complain about his work.
Today, Wells is more a fan of players than teams. Athletes he admires are: Kobe Bryant for his competitiveness, LeBron James for his athleticism, Kevin Durant for his humbleness, and one other…Paul George, for all of the above. But particularly, the latter.
“He knows he’s good, but he’s not going to tell you he’s good. He’s going to let his actions speak for him.”
When he’s not following sports, Mike Wells enjoys spending time with his family. And shopping…for clothes.
As far as the future goes, Wells says his dream job is to continue exactly what he’s doing now, but to add sideline TV analyst to it.
He’s already got the wardrobe.