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 1 p.m. ET!
mike wilbon (1:08 PM)
Hi Everybody! Hope you're all enjoying what for most people is a long MLK Holiday weekend...No PTI today, so I certainly am...Watching D.Rose and the Bulls visit the Grizzlies right now...We'll chat about defense showing up in the NFL playoffs, some college hoops I presume and definitely NBA stuff...
Who's your Super Bowl Pick now?
mike wilbon (1:10 PM)
Well, I had the Niners, Packers, Ravens and Patriots winning this weekend...I'll take Niners-Patriots, although I root for the Ravens...Baltimore has the defense to beat New England, but I just can't see Tom Brady losing again on his home field to the Ravens, which is what happened a couple of years ago in the playoffs. There is a blueprint to beating the Patriots: put Brady on his rear end...But this Ravens team, while great defensively, doesn't really bury the QB. The pass rush didn't produce a single sack yesterday vs. Houston. If you can't sack Brady you can't beat New England...
Where does niners-saints rank all time in non Super Bowl Games. I mean we had two injuries on celebrations at my house!
mike wilbon (1:14 PM)
People tell me it ranks way, way up there (ooops, just noticing no D. Rose today in Memphis...guess they're resting him, which they should, given the Bulls play again tomorrow and if Rose isn't healthy they have no chance)...anyway...I couldn't watch Niners-Saints because I opted to accept an invitation to Muhammad Ali's 70th Birthday Party, which was held in his hometown of Louisville. And while I hate missing the game, I wouldn't change my decision at all...Had a wonderful time at Ali's party...But I've watched the end of Niners-Saints and it was spectacular...a rush...still, if you don't watch a game in live-time it's impossible to really get the feeling.
Buddy (Peoria, IL)
I know it's early, but the Celtics poor start is very surprising. Will they get back on track and finish as one of the best teams in the East?
mike wilbon (1:17 PM)
great question...I don't know whether the Celtics will get it this season...maybe it'll come late, in part, by design because the Celtics know it's a long season and they can't go full-throttle for 66 games...Maybe they get to March 1st and go pedal to metal...ON THE OTHER HAND...the Celtics at the moment look old and slow and not capable of playing with the Heat and Bulls...But there's time between now and the end of April, when the playoffs begin, for that to change. This isn't college football. There's no vote. I want to see what the Celtics are like middle of February, so in a month...But it's fair to be very, very skeptical...
Mike D (Westmont)
Bulls and Wilbon chat at the same time..today is a good day! Do you think the Bulls can pull out a victory in Memphis without Derrick starting? Who will step up?
mike wilbon (1:19 PM)
No, I don't...Memphis got off to a slow start and they NEED to win a game like this. The Bulls don't. You can't win every game this season and shouldn't try. You have to concede some games in the interest of health and energy. We've seen that with Miami...saw it with the Bulls already in Atlanta a week or so ago when they got blown out. It goes against everything Coach Thibs and D-Rose believe, but it's the reality of this season. There are games you need to concede in the interest of trying to get to the Finals...The Bulls don't need this game and shouldn't wear guys (Deng, specifically) out trying to get it...
mike wilbon (1:22 PM)
Great question...I don't know, but I suspect that the only way players will be discouraged from trying to form a Big 3 is if the Miami Project doesn't work at all. In other words, if Pat Riley trades away one of them before they win, or if they play together for awhile and don't win at all...then guys likely will stop being obsessed with it...But what about management? The Celtics front-office put theirs together, remember...Will management be discouraged?
Mike! What's with the constant dogging of the Hawks?! What do you think they can do as a team/organization to earn a little more respect in your eyes.
mike wilbon (1:25 PM)
Dude, what are you talking about? I haven't even talked about the Hawks in this space for awhile...I LIKE what the Hawks did when they hired Larry Drew, and I love what he and his assistant Lester Connor have done and are doing. That doesn't mean I'm going to pick the Hawks to win the East. Get real. Look at the post-season results. I think the staff will maximize what the Hawks can do, but that team has to have some tougher players, mentally and physically, before they can really threaten to win the East. Joe Johnson is a fine player. If he'd stayed in Phoenix the Suns would have won a championship or two playing alongside Steve Nash...But he can't be your best player, your franchise player. In the meantime, I think the Hawks are a lot better, a lot tougher and play a lot smarter now than a few years ago...
Brent (Bakersfield, CA)
I am a Niners fan... What a game on Sat. I am seriously concerned about the NYG on Sun... How do you feel about the rematch? Any advantage for winner or loser from the previous game? Which way are you leaning? I think it will ber very, very close.
mike wilbon (1:28 PM)
You should be seriously concerned about whoever the opponent is when you get to the conference championship. I don't pay attention to the perceived advantages or disadvantages. Look, the first game went down to the wire and was a one-score game. Both teams are relatively healthy, right? So the pre-game analysis, which is likely to be overboard because ALL pre-game analysis of NFL playoff games is overboard. I can't wait to see it, but I'm going in thinking its dead-even. I'd like to see the Niners come all the way back to prominence and win...but that's just me.
Okay who's really going to be typing for Wilbon while he's watching the Bulls?
mike wilbon (1:31 PM)
Bro, that's what a sportswriter does...WRITE (or "type" as you call it) while watching sporting events. I've only done it for 32 years, and while sitting courtside (instead of TV)...We don't develop outlines on legal paper and then handwrite it out then go through first and second drafts. Whether it's Michael Jordan switching hands on the Lakers or Mike Tyson biting off part of Evander Holyfield's ear and spitting it within reach of me at ringside, "typing" while watching is what we do. (Take that! LOL)
Ryan (Dayton) [via mobile]
Michael, can anyone stop these Giants the way they are playing right now?
mike wilbon (1:35 PM)
Yeah. The 49ers. It always surprises me how people presume that because a team looks good one minute it has to continue. How'd that work for the Packers exactly? "The way these Saints are playing, boy, is there anybody who can stop them now?" Well, ah, hell yeah. Somebody just stopped 'em, right? Of course the 49ers can stop them. I'm not saying they will win the game, but they CAN STOP THEM...yes. And the Giants CAN STOP the 49ers. It's a contest, a game. I will grant you this: I thought from week 8 or 9 that the Packers had no chance to continue to play at that level, and said so. I thought it was too difficult to keep it going like that. I'm starting to favor teams that get hot fairly late (not as late as the Giants, who got their butts whipped by the REDSKINS, for crying out loud)...but I like teams that get something going around Week 10 or 11, or even Week 12...So, w that in mind, I think the Giants are justified in feeling pretty darned good about their chances of beating anybody right now.
Sigurdur Einar ((Iceland))
Lakers should do a Bynum/Gasol for Howard. Why? He is the best C in the NBA and he will be the best C in the NBA for many years. Lakers would figure it out and they would build a team around Howard and Kobe.
mike wilbon (1:42 PM)
I completely disagree. If they'd traded Bynum and Lamar Odom for D-Howrd last year or this fall I'd have been all for it. But Bynum and Gasol? No. Who can you say, definitively, is better in the West than the Lakers with Kobe, Gasol and Bynum right this second? Nobody. You can't. Oklahoma City has tons to prove, Dallas is coming but very different from last June...You want to throw Dwight Howard, without any help, into a situation where he is playing with Kobe Bryant? That sacrifices the season completely, at a time when Kobe is going to be 34 years old. That's crazy talk. It's HARD to play with any superstar, especially one who dominates the ball...Hell, Kobe isn't chris Paul. He's not playing lob city with Dwight Howard. No, that trade would kill the season and Kobe doesn't have so many left that you can afford to throw one away...
I have a sneaking suspicion that the Heat would be a superior team with Wade OR LBJ on another team. Are we going to see improved team chemistry with Wade on the bench with injuries?
mike wilbon (1:44 PM)
Great question...I'm interested to watch the same thing. If the answer is that it works "better" then what does Miami do the rest of this season. I don't want to get carried away with that theory though because they did just reach the Finals TOGETHER in June. Let's see...very much worth watching to see if that's true. In other words, LeBron/Bosh+ others or Wade/Bosh others will work better...Hopefully, Wade isn't out long enough to really find out; I would hate to see injuries define this season.
Nate (Pasadena, CA)
Mike... what's up with John Wall? Tryin' too hard??
mike wilbon (1:47 PM)
He's surrounded with bad teammates, and by that I mean dudes who don't know how to play, how to practice, how to be professionals...young knuckleheads who think their individual numbers mean something playing on a horribly awful team...Wall isn't a good shooter on any level and seems more interested in dunking than anything else. But I think he's discouraged right now. If he was a good situation, on a team with smarter players who were competing for something tangible he would be better, too. In other words, if the Lakers were to somehow get Wall, I think the environment would just drink him up and change him entirely. But the situation is such a disaster, I hope his spirit isn;'t crushed by this.
Carl (Brecksville, OH)
Ravens, Niners SUPERBOWL BABY!!!! The NFL needs another good story.
mike wilbon (1:48 PM)
What, the Giants aren 't a good story? Tom Brady going for four isn't a good story? There will be great stories no matter which two teams advance. Nice try, though Carl...
Would the Grizzlies be in the same position if they had kept Kevin Love and never signed Zach Randolph?
mike wilbon (1:51 PM)
Good question...Well, what we know is with Zach Randolph healthy and in the lineup putting up 20 and 12 they won a round in the playoffs. Randolph does confine his game mostly to the low block, and he's a true post player, which is hard to find these days. As much as I love kevin Love, I gotta say that Randolph might put more pressure on a defense, and because he plays the way he does it compliments Gasol. Love has more skills but I don't know if it would have worked as well with Memphis as Randolph does...Sometimes, a player who does a little less, or whose talents are more specific or limited works better than the guy with more range...
JeremyB666 (Kewadin, MI)
What is your take on 49ers QB Alex Smith? After being labeled a bust he goes out and does what he did against the Saints!
mike wilbon (1:54 PM)
I've always liked Alex Smith. Clearly the kid has a certain toughness, to have heard all the criticism, yet hang in there the way he has. He's not an elite talent, but haven't we learned yet you don't have to be. He's helping his team win the games, right? I think Smith has benefited so much from having Jim Harbaugh, a QB who heard some of the same things when he was a player, as his coach. It HAS to have helped, being coached by a guy with that confidence and personality. Again, we're talking about fit, which is so important in sports. I bet Smith considers himself pretty fortunate now. So are the Niners. People now let Fantasy Football determine who they feel about players. Fantasy Football doesn't take into accounts wins, does it?
Ted (Will mar)
Next year you have the choice to attend a Bears Superbowl or a Bulls NBA Finals. The other team misses the playoffs. Which do you choose and why?
mike wilbon (1:57 PM)
The Bulls aren't missing the playoffs...so it would be the Bulls in the NBA Finals. Would it surprise me if the Bears miss the playoffs? If healthy, yes, it would. Still, the Bulls are reaching that time to bloom. If a basketball team misses its window you have to start over. If a football team misses, it can go from worst-to-first in no time. An NBA team almost HAS to win the lottery...
mike wilbon (1:59 PM)
Okay, I'm going to run...not to prepare for PTI, which is dark today, but to enjoy a rare "off" day...You guys should get away from the screen and enjoy the rest of the afternoon as well...Thanks for chatting, see you next Monday after the conference championship games!