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 12:30 p.m. ET!
Ali Nagib (Chicago)
While depth might normally not mean as in the NBA playoffs as it does in the regular season, doesn't the compressed schedule this year and increased risk of injury give teams like the Bulls an extra leg up in May and June? It's not like guys only get season-ending injuries during the regular season, and the Bulls could withstand losing Rose more easily than the Heat could handle losing LeBron or Wade or the Celtics could losing KG or Rondo.
mike wilbon (12:31 PM)
HI Everybody...starting early today in order to juggle travel schedule and PTI...we'll jump right into a number of issues...like this one which is the central theme of the season it seems to me in the NBA...How do you manage the health of your team? Gregg Popovich in San Antonio takes a lot of heat--and I understand why if you buy tickets to see the Spurs--for sitting his guys...Pop is basically saying, "I'm not going to put my older players through the extreme wear and tear of this season with consideration because we can't win that way." The Bulls, just as you say, are deep enough and young enough to have managed it differently. Look at what Orlando is going through now. Coach like to shorten their rotations, traditionally, in the playoffs...but I don't know that approach is going to work this post-season.
Greetings Mike, I was wondering if you had thoughts on the Skip Bayless/Jalen Rose debate last week? On one had I agree that non-players can have valid opinions on the game. On the other hand, the line of respect from opinion-giver to player seems to be murky. Why do so many people in your profession (not you) get so touchy when a player calls them out on going over the line without having played between the lines? Seems as though they can dish it, but cant take it. Your thoughts?
mike wilbon (12:35 PM)
This is a fascinating issue, and I must admit I've heard snippets of the back-and-forth between Jalen, who I know well and like tremendously, and Skip but I haven't listened to the entire conversation so I'm at a disadvantage here. In a general way, I will say that for any number of reasons, mostly involving the way media has changed dramatically in the last 20 years, so much of the conversation simply isn't civil. I call it the Simon Cowelling of America. Personally, I hate it. People say things without ever being accountable, in and out of media...I approach my job now the same way I did for the 20 years pre-ESPN. I try to go in locker rooms, especially NBA rooms since I cover the league still, and have conversations with the people I discuss. I find that essential and I have little respect for people who simply decide they aren't going to do that...(more)
mike wilbon (12:39 PM)
Sports isn't The Theatre. Each industry has its own culture. Sports stars, even the biggest ones, are available. If you're in media you can find them after practice, before and after games...So in terms of mainstream media folks, if they JUST sit at a desk and never look anybody in the eye, or at the least never pick up the phone to call a coach or GM or ANYBODY I have less respect for their opinions, by and large. But so much opinion is offered by people who, to me, have no credibility, who have access to a mic or a keyboard but no credibility, no legitimate basis for what they're talking about. This is just one side of the issue, of course, but its the part of the discourse that troubles me. Everybody with a Twitter account or Facebook page is a publisher now, which has its upside...Guys who would never be interviewed by mainstream media folks now can get their thoughts out there, and that's great...But also, there's no filter, just spewing...And that I can't stand, and that's part of this discussion...
Mike, I don't have the numbers in front of me, but it seems like free throw shooting, clutch ones in particular, is at an all-time low. Is this the sense you get, or am I just swayed due to the Bulls problems? P.S. I saw Miami have similar problems and I bet there are other teams too.
mike wilbon (12:43 PM)
I think we've seen over the last dozen years or so a backslide when it comes to players knowing the fundamentals of the game. Too much AAU, too little college basketball. That's what I hear, often, from college and NBA coaches...It's oversimplifying, probably, but I think I'm seeing the same things that you are...The Bulls, particularly, have an pitifully low FT shooting percentage; they were 27th in the NBA going into yesterday. Second in 3-point shooting, 27th in foul shooting? That's inexcusable. I haven't studied foul shooting stats over the last 30 years; I suspect the averages are comparable but that while there are more 90 percent shooters than ever from the line, there are also WAAAAY more guys who are around 50, which speaks to your point.
Does D Rose have a legitimate beef with the refs letting guys whack on him all the time?
mike wilbon (12:45 PM)
Fair question...I don't know the answer. I don't know if he gets pounded more than CP3 or Rondo...Dwight Howard told Rose last year that if he continues to go to the basket with that kind of abandon he's going to stay in the trainer's room, and it appears D12 was right, and that it was good advice. I wonder how long Rose can play the way he plays. He's going to have to adjust his game, pick his spots when going to the basket the way he likes to. At 20, 21, even 24 and 25 Rose can do what he does...After that? All bets are off. I know he's taking a helluva lot of punishment and I'd be as angry as he was yesterday and getting hacked that way...
Joel (Niagara Falls, NY) [via mobile]
Hi Mike, I entirely understand the reasoning involved, however, each year when we celebrate Jackie Robinson it bothers me endlessly that a MLB player continues to prance around while donning #42 when supposedly the number is universally retired. What do you think and what do you feel about this ? Thank you.
mike wilbon (12:46 PM)
I felt like you do, initially. I've changed my opinion though over time...I liked yesterday seeing it for one day. It makes kids, just to make one point, ask why everybody is wearing #42. One day is a good thing, I think...
Cubs or White Sox win more games this year?
mike wilbon (12:46 PM)
White Sox. Better roster. Much better.
Watching the Mavs lose to the Lakers because the rim blocked the JET in OT was ridiculously sad! What are the defending champions odds of at least make it to the western conference finals and then lose graciously to the Thunder?
mike wilbon (12:49 PM)
Between JET missing that layup (let's give some credit to Matt Barnes for playing great D) and that 3-point shot that should have been nullified (was it Gasol's shot and Barnes' goaltend)...the Mavs really took a hard loss yesterday. If we see another Lakers-Mavs series, I see the Mavs going out...That 3-6 is very possible. If it's 4-5 with the Mavs getting the Clippers, I think the Mavs have a reasonable chance to then get to the Spurs in the next round...but do I see the Mavs getting to the Western Conference finals? Ahhhh, no. OKC, S.A., LAL and even Memphis (if Marc Gasol is healthy) are flat out better.
OMARVLS (NORTH HOLLYWOOD, CA)
Michael, when will you come clean and admit that you know as well as I do that the Bulls will win the Championship this year. We have a true Superstar (D.Rose) borderline All-Stars in (Deng,Noah,Boozer) the best bench in the NBA in (Gibson,Astik,Korver,Ect) I mean come on!!
mike wilbon (12:51 PM)
Dude, you gotta get a grip. The Bulls aren't a superior team. They're in the elite group with the Heat, Thunder, Spurs and probably the Lakers and Celtics. They're not head-and-shoulders above any of them and to suggest they are just says you're a delusional fan of one team, like most folks. The Bulls have as good a chance, if Rose and Hamilton remain healthy, of winning the championship as anybody...But to think anybody this year is an automatic to win the NBA championship means you're not paying attention to the other teams and their strengths and attributes.
I'm aware the Heat made the finals last year and through all these struggles are one of the favorites to win it all. But I ask you do you think Chris Bosh has regrets going there? Its clear that he looks uncomfortable and the Heat RARELY ever go to him or give him shots in crunch time? Do you think he would welcome a trade?
mike wilbon (12:56 PM)
Great, great question...We were batting this around in the studio yesterday as we watched the Heat, and by "we" I mean Magic, JB and Chris...and while I don't think he'd ASK for a trade, we all wondered where he SHOULD have gone...If he'd gone to Chicago (Boozer wouldn't have gone there) and formed quite the triangle with Rose and Deng, the Bulls very likely would have won the title last year...Had he gone to Houston, which wanted him desperately, the Rockets would be a dramatically different team, probably one featuring a point guard named Jeremy Lin...The Rockets wouldn't have let him go if they had Bosh, or for that matter Nene and Gasol...If Miami doesn't win, it's damn likely that threesome will NOT return together next season. Wouldn't 20 teams want a 6-11 guy who can get 20 and 10 and is unselfish to a fault and a wonderful person to have in the locker room? You can make the argument that Miami is about the last place Bosh should be. His talents aren't being maximized, not because of the coach, but because they need other resources on that team...Now, if Miami wins we'll all back off this, but in the meantime...
Ok Mike, given the way Bynum has been playing this year, minus the immaturity flare up's, I think we could all argue that He is a much more complete player than Howard. Your thoughts?
mike wilbon (12:57 PM)
No. He isn't much more complete. They're fairly even offensively because Bynum has better post-moves, or at least relies on them more consistently. But Howard's a better defensive player and that's not arguable...
Matthew (Columbia, NJ)
How surprised are you that Pittsburgh very well may get swept by the Flyers?
mike wilbon (12:59 PM)
REAAAAL surprised. I've watched every minute of Games 1 and 3 of that series and what shocks me is how preoccupied the Penguins are with answering all of Philly's extracurricular stuff....well, that and just how much the Pens stink. Wow, the soft goals, the bad defense...I know teams come back from down 0-3 in the NHL more than any other sport, but this would take a sporting miracle. And yeah, I'm stunned. With Crosby out there I thought the Penguins were a legit fave in the Eastern Conference, along with the Rangers and Bruins...But to lose the way they're lost...
Wilbon.. always love your chats and commentary. Please answer me this: Ian O'Connor writes on ESPN NY that Knicks fans better pray for Bulls round 1 rather than the Heat. Do you agree? Personally I think Miami is the better match. Chicago has actual depth to their bench, Miami really has a rag tag cast to go along with the Big 2 1/2. If Stoudemire returns in true form, he is a weapon. Tell me Lebron can handle a rowdy MSG crowd more than once in a series. I don't think so.
mike wilbon (1:03 PM)
The Knicks DO want Rose and the Bulls...Just like Miami's players, the Knicks players look at the Bulls and see less physically talented players, position by position, and sneer and think they're physically superior. I don't see the Knicks beating either the Heat or Bulls, and the last week tell you why. The Bulls beat the Knicks without Rose and Miami won in the Garden, and the Bulls played the Knicks dead even in The Garden...The Knicks should be stalking that 6th seed to get the Pacers in the first round...If they shuffle into the playoffs looking for a match with the Bulls they're going to get their hearts broken. Don't get me wrong, it would be a tough 6-game series, but what would the Knicks get, if anything, from Amare? And are the Knicks better off (I think they are) with Carmelo being the focal pt of the offensive effort?
Who do you think is more valuable to the Lakers Bynum or Kobe?
mike wilbon (1:04 PM)
You're kidding right?
Who do you think are the top 5 players in the NBA right now?
mike wilbon (1:08 PM)
If we do this by position...and that's how the vote for All-NBA is done, then my first-team All-NBA team is Kevin Durant and LeBron at the forwards, Kobe and Chris Paul at the guards, Dwight Howard at center. I might sub Rondo for Paul (the vote isn't due for another week) but those six guys will include my top 5...The second team is likely to be Westbrook and either Rondo or CP3 at guard, K-Love and Carmelo at the forwards, Bynum at center...Funny thing is, the Spurs and Bulls, which for the second straight season could have the best records in the league, won't have anybody on the top 3 All-NBA teams...(I might put Deng as one of my third-team forwards, but hardly anybody else will)
Sam (Los Angeles)
Look people always talk about Williams, Paul, Rose, Westbrook and Parker, but how come Rondo doesn't get the love all those other guys do? is it because he's not a good of a scorer as the rest of those guys? Because I don't think I've seen any of these guys put up the stat line Rondo gets
mike wilbon (1:08 PM)
WEll, if you read the above answer you'll see that I do...
Why do Magic and Barry dislike the Heat so much? Magic basically wrote them off yesterday while they were leading a game on the road. I still feel like it's the Heats title to lose....The problem is the media overreacts to every little thing they do.
mike wilbon (1:09 PM)
You got Magic as simply being "the media." What planet you been on since 1978?
Jay (San Jose, Ca)
Right now at this very moment, is Rajon Rondo the best point guard in the NBA?
mike wilbon (1:09 PM)
Rondo and Chris Paul, in my opinion...Westbrook and T. Parker have had great seasons as well...
It can't be good to have three NBA teams in Southern California, right?
mike wilbon (1:10 PM)
How about 2 in Southern California and one in Seattle?
I know hockey isn't your expertise, but any thoughts on Pitt and Vancouver being down 0-3? I thought these were 2 elite teams? Why is the NHL playoffs such a coin flip every year?
mike wilbon (1:12 PM)
The Canucks had problem with one of the Sedins being out anyway, and they just looked overmatched. By the way knuckleheads, never presume I don't watch a ton of the NHL playoffs. Why is that? People see a black face who loves the NBA and presume, "he knows nothing about hockey?" (I a speaking generally, not to you PA in Chicago)...I played growing up (IN CHICAGO) and have listened to more hockey games on the radio (the Blackhawks home games weren't allowed on TV when I was growing up) than most of the clowns making the presumptions have seen on TV in their lives. Anyway, coming back in from my rant, I'm not all that surprised the Canucks are down, but the Penguins, hell yes...Who saw that coming?
Does Rondo get a couple of MVP votes? this guy has been playing some fantastic basketball the past 20-30 games and putting up some ridiculous numbers
mike wilbon (1:14 PM)
Yeah, my MVP order as of this minute is LeBron, Durant, Rondo, Parker...Dwight has cycled off...or at least below those four...
Ask AI about reckless abandon in his game and career! He is out of basketball at a relatively young age.
mike wilbon (1:14 PM)
Yeah, and you make a great point. But there were lifestyle factors in there as well that Rose doesn't have...
Cory (Dubuque, Iowa)
How can you say the Cubs will never wind a championship when they are expanding the playoff field?
mike wilbon (1:15 PM)
I didn't say the Cubs will never win a championship. Don't make up garbage and attribute it to me. To the point of the extra round, it also means the Cubs could be a strong, 93-win wild card team and drop the single game playoff to a team with 84 wins...
calexan1 (Columbus, OH)
What are your thoughts on the new arena issues going on in Sacramento between the Maloofs and the city?
mike wilbon (1:16 PM)
I just think the Maloofs don't want to be in Sac anymore and all this stuff was entirely predictable. Talked to a guy with knowledge of the situation three weeks ago in Las Vegas and he told me there was no way the deal was going down in Sac...Too bad.
mike wilbon (1:17 PM)
okay, gotta run to get to PTI...Have a great week everybody...Thanks for chatting...See you next Monday...MW