April 19, 2023
Locked on Women’s Basketball: Erica Wheeler is ready for her next challenge with the Indiana Fever
Howard and Erica Wheeler chat about her return to Indiana, being a leader and the excitement of the draftees
It’s time for another episode of the Locked on Women’s Basketball podcast. Host Howard Megdal is joined by Erica Wheeler, whose WNBA career has been cinematic as much as anyone’s, from undrafted to WNBA All-Star Game MVP, from COVID to MVP of the Polish league, now back with the Indiana Fever. And being handed the keys to run a young team with playoff aspirations — the vital work Wheeler is doing with the Wheeler Kid Foundation.
Erica Wheeler talks about still having a chip on her shoulder:
“Do I have a chip on my shoulder? Yes, absolutely, because at the end of the day, as humans, we get comfortable once we get to a certain level of acceptance from your peers and respect from the coaches and GMs; we get comfortable because everybody know who we are. But for me, I always think like it’s 144 jobs. I can never really get comfortable because at any moment, at any given moment that this draft happened every year, and new talent is coming out every year. Like as point guards, they are 6’4, and I am 5’7, so the game is changing drastically for me.
So for me, I can never sit and get comfortable and say hey, I know that my peers don’t respect me; these coaches respect me. But still, it still doesn’t give me a level of like, okay, get comfortable because I think the moment you get comfortable, you can be out the door. So I attacked everything as if, you know, I don’t have a job even though I have a two-year deal signed, but always attack it as if I don’t have a job because at the end of the day, is always some youngster working twice as hard trying to get where I’m at and I want to make sure I’m always prepared.”
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Erica Wheeler talks about her veteran leadership with the young players in Indiana:
“This is why I signed up for this is one of the reasons why I went to Indiana. First off, Christie Sides is different to me. She’s one of the reasons why I became an all-star in 2019. So I told her who’s the better person to help her along this journey as a first-year head coach. I know she trusts me; I trust her; Christie is someone I’m inviting to my wedding with a plus one and so I told her, this is why I’m here. So I know what I’m up against. I know that I’m going to have to teach a lot and help guide. But the one thing I love is that they’re eager; they ask me questions now. They just want to know and want to learn everything. And that’s the easiest part to walk in as a vet you don’t have to push. You don’t have to make anybody do anything there. They want it. So for me, I think I’ll have a lot of fun because there’s a lot of youth they’ll keep me young and like I said, they’re eager.
And for me, I think if I’m in a position that I’ve never thought I’d be able to be in as a vet, I always thought I would just play under the radar, but I’m in a position where these kids are listening to me. So I’m happy to be in this position because, naturally, I’m a leader.”
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