Chat with Michael Wilbon
Welcome to SportsNation! On Monday, ESPN's Michael Wilbon stops by to chat and share his thoughts on the sports world.
Wilbon, a longtime Washington Post sports columnist, is co-host of ESPN's Pardon the Interruption, the popular weekday sports debate and discussion program, as well as an NBA studio analyst for both ESPN and ABC, in addition to writing for ESPNChicago.com. A pioneer in sports journalism, Wilbon was one of the first sports writers to broaden his success beyond newspapers to include television, radio and other media.
Send your questions now and join Wilbon Monday at noon ET!
mike wilbon (12:04 PM)
Hi Everybody...That was pretty darn good stuff last night...We'll jump right in to that and take a couple of Cubs questions too...(Oh my God!) before I have to run to player availability sessions here in Dallas at the NBA Finals...
I notice that every year during the playoffs, the media is always trying to crown somebody the "next Michael." In 2006 it was D-Wade, in 2007 it was Lebron, then Kobe for 2008-2010, and now Lebron again. My own feeling is that growing up watching MJ, one (although there are many) major reason why he separates himself from everyone as the greatest is that every year in the playoffs (in every series) he raised his level of play. I was wondering what your thoughts are on this and why (i believe) the media should leave this subject alone?Thanks
mike wilbon (12:07 PM)
Sorry to disagree with you but I think the "Next Michael" thing is pretty much over. MJ has been retired from the Bulls for 13 years. People who are 25--and the NBA has a younger fanbase than most sports,--aren't even old enough to have seen him play during his prime. I don't really hear anybody calling LeBron the "Next Michael" because he doesn't play to that "type." His style is a mix of what Jordan did because he can score and what Magic did because LeBron is such a good passer. While that was the case up and through Kobe Bryant, I just don't hear that anymore and if anybody is doing it it's so...passe...so 1990s. Sto just for you Jessy in Canada I'm going to say "STOP IT!" to any knucklehead who might be out there with that comparison.
chuck d (nyc)
Wilbon, why are the refs swallowing their whistles when it comes to the Mavs fouling Heat players? It appears that the refs are trying to make up for the 2006 foul disparity in favor of the Heat. Have you noticed this too? Thanks for your consideration...you're one of the best.
mike wilbon (12:10 PM)
Stop with the refs. People are way, way, way to obsessed with refereeing. In Dallas people are asking why the refs are swallowing their whistles when it comes to Miami players fouling the Mavs. The refs are fine. There hasn't been anything controversial or even questionable to me about the officiating in this series. I do know this. LeBron walks ALL THE TIME, just slides his feet all over the place and it never gets called...I mean, it's not intentional and it's not a "crap" step or a hop or anything like Patrick Ewing used to do...it is just when a defender is up into LeBron he just slides back, maybe three feet out of the pressure and it is NEVER called...Wow. Anyway, that's fixable right away and it's not a huge thing. But fouls? I just don't see any disparity in the way the game is being called.
Mike (Halifax, NS)
What's your take on Zambrano's latest tirade?
mike wilbon (12:12 PM)
That he's right on the money in the case of what happened yesterday and that he probably needs to be traded because he just isn't going to be productive with the Cubs in a way that leads to anything significant. And I'm a HUGE Zambrano fan...But the problem with the Cubs is so much bigger than any one rant or player. Don't the Cubs have like the third largest payroll but also the third worst record in the game? My goodness, that can't be tolerated. That's awful. The back slide the Cubs are in is reminding me of some pretty awful teams of yesteryear.
Wilbon- Why haven't we heard more talk throughout the finals about the absence of Caron Butler for the Mavs? Yes, there has been a reference here or there, but with how tight these games have been at the end, and the pressure on Dirk to be "the guy" every time it counts, hasn't Caron's absence proven to be a BIG deal?
mike wilbon (12:14 PM)
Great, great, great point. Magic mentioned him on our pre- and post-game shows last night...Actually, maybe it was JB who did. I'm going to write about him a little bit tonight in a column for ESPN.com. His absence is huge because Dallas doesn't have another reliable scorer to help Dirk, who simply has to do too much. He had 34 last night and the Mavs other starters combined for 27...That ain't gonna work. And Butler can score in such a variety of ways, defending him would open up a whole lot of space for Jason Terry, who really needs to have 20-point-plus games for Dallas to win this series. Instead, Terry's being guarded by LeBron James ever night for more than a few possessions. Ouch!
Mick Greenwood (Tiny East Coast Suburb)
Can we please stop with the "Nadal is the greatest" talk. He still has to get 6 more to reach Federer and as we've seen with Tiger it's not as easy as it seems, agree?
mike wilbon (12:17 PM)
I agree with you 100 percent. How can Nadal be the greatest ever when he's won more than half his Slams on one surface. Look, I'm a much bigger Nadal fan than Federer, for no good reason other than style and personality junk. But Federer, if you're going to use Slams as an argument, is the best and Sampras after that (though I think Rod Laver is totally forgotten just because people nowadays don't know anything that didn't happen this morning)...It's like this "Dirk is a top 10 player all-time" case that doesn't even acknowledge the likes of Elvin Hayes and Rick Barry, two superior players who won championships...NO, Nadal isn't the greatest of all-time and may never be. Thanks for bringing that up...Now, does Nadal have a chance if he wins more a Wimbledon and the U.S. Open? Yes, absolutely.
Ed (Big 15)
Michael, I understand the hating from the general public towards the Heat but why do Barry and Barkley keep hating on the Heat when they know that they are by far the most talented team in the playoffs... It seems once they win they'll have to send these 2 a memo saying: Ring Jelousy? Sincerely, Bron
mike wilbon (12:21 PM)
First of all, I hope you know Rick Barry has a NBA Championship ring (1975 I believe) and probably at least one ABA Championship ring, so jealousy won't be his problem...Hey, people in the position Rick and Charles are in aren't there to be cheerleaders; they're there to be critics, so praise and criticism are coming...You can disagree with them, but believe me neither has any particular emotional investment in hating the Heat. They may not like something about the way Miami plays or some stylistic element, but THAT'S THEIR JOB, to bring their opinions, based on their on-court experiences as superstars to a TV audience. That's the job...not to just fawn on your favorite team (or mine, or anybody else's for that matter!)
What did you think about the refereeing in the second half of game 3?
mike wilbon (12:22 PM)
I didn't notice it, which means it must have been pretty darned okay!
HOW MANY MORE YEARS UNTIL WE SEE THOSE NEW UNI'S IN THE PLAYOFFS!!!
mike wilbon (12:23 PM)
Three years maybe. He's talking about the Wizards folks, which may be the first time all season anybody's asked a question about the Washington basketball franchise...Depends on the draft, too, and what the Wizards can get out of it. They've got a long, long, long way to go.
Tony (Montreal )
What's your golf handicap?
mike wilbon (12:24 PM)
You can look it up; I think it's 12-point something or other...why? You looking to set me up someplace great and give me strokes?
Jonathan Porter (Peverly, MA)
So this is Wade's team now since he had one game better then LeBron?
mike wilbon (12:26 PM)
It was always Wade's team. It was Wade's team when LeBron announced he was coming to South Beach. If it hadn't been Wade's team LeBron wouldn't have come. And Wade's performance in all 3 of these playoffs games should tell you that. LeBron is best as a facilitator...which would make him one of the BEST-EVER facilitators, in that he can get 9 assists like he did last night but also score 30 whenever he needs to. But the only game Miami lost in this series was because the Heat stopped milking Wade who had 36 but only two shots the last 7 minutes. It's not about who is "better" it's about who does what best in what moments. Wade has done this already in his career, remember, and he's the best Miami has at doing it now and this isn't debatable.
How is being the dynamic of lebron being robin to dwade's batman in the finals going to affect his legacy as "one of the greatest ever"
mike wilbon (12:30 PM)
Wow, that's a GREAT question...really good talking point. And I don't know that we have any idea yet. Depends on how many they win, who is the MVP of the series (Wade has a leg up in that area so far this time)...If you're the ring leader your standing is greater within your peer group and Wade definitely has the advantage there...There's so much time for this to play out...but obviously, just to use an analogy, Scottie Pippen isn't viewed as being equal to Michael Jordan. Or going back further, Elvin Hayes, great as he was, isn't viewed as being equal to Wes Unseld. Even though they didn't win, I can tell you with 100 percent certainty that players of the most recent era view John Stockton as a better player than Karl Malone...There IS a pecking order. It's something we'll be debating for awhile, I suspect.
Do you think Dallas should look to replace Jason Terry next season? his FG% is down and turnovers are up as the playoffs went on.
mike wilbon (12:32 PM)
Well, how about "add to" Dirk and Terry. I get your drift; Dallas has to get better. They really do. If some younger team wants to add Terry to its mix to get better (OKC perhaps? Bulls perhaps?) I could see that as long as Dallas gets something pretty promising in return or in addition. I don't see people giving up a lot for JET at this point, but Dallas does have to have another primary scorer...at least they wlll if they're going to beat a team as potent as Miami.
JC (L.A. CA)
Who was that "reporter" trying to call out Lebron last night in the post game interview? That's the kind of stuff that makes me root for the Heat. Rose, Westbrook and Durant all got a taste in the conference finals of the pressure the Heat faced all season and they all let it affect their game.
mike wilbon (12:33 PM)
don't know what you're talking about because we're on-air during the post-game interview sessions...don't have any idea, sorry..if LeBron was receiving a tough question and you want fawning, sorry, that isn't our job...but maybe the person was out-of-line; I'd have to hear it.
I think Miami is going to finish the series in 6 game, but the question is who is going to be the finals MVP ?
mike wilbon (12:34 PM)
I suspect you're right and the answer, looking at things as they are trending, would be Wade.
I don't see it. I just don't see Bosh as a star player. Offensively it's all Lebron and Wade and defensively Bosh has been suspsect. Looking back, could the Heat be even BETTER had they spent the Bosh money on 2-to-3 quality role players?? Ala, Jordan and Pippen.
mike wilbon (12:36 PM)
Really? Miami is about to win a championship. Bosh just scored the winning basket with one eye and you want somebody else? You should just stop watching now and go back to football or golf or soccer or ANYTHING because basketball must not be your thing. 4-1, 4-1, 4-1 and so far 2-1 (or was Philly 4-2, I forget) and you want to pick holes in Chris Bosh's effort? Please, stop...
Does Spoelstra get enough credit for his vision of defense and getting the team to buy into it from the beginning? Aside from Miami's athleticism, it's obvious that it's their defensive tenacity that has brought them so far.
mike wilbon (12:37 PM)
No, Spoelstra doesn't get enough credit for EXACTLY what you're pointing out, and yes Miami's defensive tenacity and versatility (LeBron, Wade, Haslem, Miller can all guard two or three positions so switching and trapping and double-teaming is sooooo easy for them) are critical...Great points and thanks for making both.
Joseph Dunbar (Portland, ME)
Do you think that as the years go on LeBron will learn from what Wade is doing now and as Wade ages LeBron will take over as the leader/MVP of the team?
mike wilbon (12:39 PM)
They're fine just as they are. Why are people creating a competition. They both function, and should, differently, based on their talents and dispositions and demeanors. They don't need to do the same things or be the same people. LeBron was better in the Bulls series, Wade is better in this series. The idea is to complement one another, not compete while on the same team...oh, and the idea is to win which they're two games from doing in their first year together. Why do some of you act as if it's not working?
Corey G. (Pearland, TX)
What do you think about Houston signing McHale to coach them?
mike wilbon (12:41 PM)
I don't know yet. I LOVE Kevin McHale...I think he's becoming one of the forgotten great players. For instance the "Dirk is a top-10 all-time player" advocates (who should stop, seriously) don't even seem to realize, most of them, that McHale was a great, great player, maybe the best to ever play the position (I'd take him over Karl Malone, and can't decide about Tim Duncan)...But McHale was NOT a great GM and I don't know about coach. I want to see it...He has such a great basketball mind and can communicate the concepts so well, maybe coaching is his calling and not GM...
If you had a team in this series, which player you picking first if they're all lined up against the fence? You picking Lebron? D-Wade? Dirk? I waver like I'm a kid at a candy store. Who you got?
mike wilbon (12:45 PM)
Great question and we'll end on this since I have to run and prepare for PTI and player availability...I think it goes, for me anyway, Wade, LeBron, Dirk, Durant, Rose...or maybe Rose/Durant...But that's my top five right now and it's based on age largely because obviously, Kobe would otherwise be atop the list if we're talking about all of these guys at the height of their physical powers. But if we're talking the conference finalists from this year and the Lakers aren't included, then that's my lineup. I love Wade's play in two Finals series now, which reflects why I'd take him first. And if we're admitting bias, guys from my neighborhood (SOUTH SIDE!) win all ties!Okay, gotta run everybody, be well, thanks for chatting at a different time because of the Finals schedule and we'll chat next week when I suspect the Finals will have ended...MW
mike wilbon (12:46 PM)
But the shot didn't go in and Dallas overloaded Dirk with too much scoring responsibility. Look, I think Dallas can win tomorrow night, but I'd be shocked if Dallas wins the series because the Mavs don't have enough with Butler out of the lineup...It's a shame because I'd love to see the Mavs at full strength.
If you took one of the "BIG" three out of Miami, do you think they would still be in this current position?
mike wilbon (12:48 PM)
depends who they trade for? If you take out Bosh but have, say, Jokim Noah playing instead, then what? The team would look different and have to find mid-range shooting somewhre else because Noah sure as hell can't do that, but he blocks shots and defends better than Bosh, so who knows? You're not taking Wade or LeBron away and getting to the Finals though this season. Nope. It's taken the efforts of all three men.