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 (1:04 PM)
Hi Everybody...we'll jump right into NBA playoff stuff, of which there is plenty...I'm in Chicago where the mood is funereal, literally...Must be pretty darn upbeat in Los Angeles, which I left yesterday, where the Lakers were dominant and the Clippers pulled off one of the greatest comebacks in playoff history. Unreal...
Jake Y (Florida)
Do the Bulls have a chance at the finals without Rose?
mike wilbon (1:09 PM)
It's very, very hard to see the Bulls getting past Miami, if they can get that far. It's no guarantee the Bulls will beat Philly without Rose, though I think the Bulls will win in six or seven games now instead of five...the Boston-Atlanta series is interesting for a lot of reasons, but health (that issue again) is one of them. When will Ray Allen play, and how well? What's the deal with Paul Pierce's toe? And now, how long will Rondo be suspended for bumping referee Mark Davis? Just one game? Two? The Bulls, without Rose, beat Boston twice...beat Atlanta once, I think...But the playoffs are an entirely different animal. I don't see the Bulls beating a healthy Boston team without Rose; I just don't...not in the playoffs. Still, no certainty Boston will survive Atlanta... But beating Miami, San Antonio, Lakers, OKC without Rose? I just don't see it...I know this Bulls team has been a TEAM in his absence and it's been remarkable...But the playoffs test teams in ways the regular season does not...
How can you possibly feel comfortable blaming these injuries on the shortened schedule? You have no medical knowledge and have done zero research comparing and contrasting similar sporting seasons in basketball history or sports as a whole.
mike wilbon (1:12 PM)
I listen to people who are doctors and trainers who deal with professional athletes, including basketball players, every day. I listen to players...and coaches who were players...And have had all of the above tell me why, going INTO the season, they anticipated certain injuries and plenty of them. So, you want me to pay more attention to your outrage than their professional opinions. It's called reporting. I don't do as much as I did for the first 20 years of my career, but I know how to when I need to, as is the case on this issue. So, put your indignation aside and go back and read the column and listen to the voices of the people whose views I try and put forth.
Rob (San Antonio)
I do not remember who said it but one of the announcers wondered if the dominance by the Spurs would bring them problems when they are challenged. While I can see what they are getting at I think the fact that San Antonio is a mature team and Pops is a pretty good coach override this factor. What are your thoughts?
mike wilbon (1:13 PM)
My thought is that the Spurs are likely the best team in the Western Conference at the moment...Pop has four championship rings. You think he knows what he's doing? I agree with you.
How about a shout to former-Wizard knuckelhead Nick Young?What are your thoughts about Jordan Hill's contributions and place in Laker rotations?
mike wilbon (1:16 PM)
Two great questions...I always thought you could have Young on a smart team with guys like CP3 and Chauncey Billups, and McGee on a smart team with a coach like George Karl...You just couldn't have them together with Aundray Blatche, who the Wizards finally had the good sense to show the door. Young has this one marvelous skill: he can hit a jump shot from anywhere on the floor...And CP3 knows how to set him up as well as anybody...Young needs to play with a CP3 or Billups or Steve Nash or Jason Kidd, somebody who can see his flaws and play around them. CP3's genius is largely overlooked. He's wonderful to watch in person, if you get the chance. Young should hug him every chance he gets. Young's confidence in that j should only grow after coming through in the clutch the way he did yesterday. That was a career-highlight day for him...
Tom (Fort Worth, TX)
As a Mavs fan I am worried, I guess there are two ways you could look at game 1A) Game 1 was a good sign for the Mavs, they had the lead most of the fourth quarter on the road, and OKC needed a friendly roll on a contested buzzer beater to win. This indicates a very close series that the Mavs have a legit chance inorB) The Mavs came out and threw there best punch and OCK took it, that was there best chance to win a road game considering the preformences from Vince Carter and Jason Terry.I fear B, your thoughts?
mike wilbon (1:17 PM)
I'm not looking at that Mavericks loss as a positive. That's the game to steal and put pressure on a team that's never won anything. Instead, the mavericks let it slip (well, Durant did make one helluva shot) and now I think it's going to be really, really difficult for Dallas to get Game 2 in OKC...
who is your pick now to win the east and the finals?
mike wilbon (1:19 PM)
It was always miami v chicago...It might still be miami v chicago...I just don't see the Bulls, even though they went 18-9 without him, beating Miami four times in a series without D. Rose...I just can't envision that. This is a players league, the NBA...It's not the NFL...You don't have your best players in the playoffs, you don't win. It's pretty simple, and a tried and true formula over decades.
Watching Derrick go down Saturday was like getting punched in the gut. I thought this was going to be the year they won the championship. I know Chris Paul had this happen to him before and he has come back just as strong. Do you think Derrick will still have that explosiveness and ability to change directions like he had?
mike wilbon (1:22 PM)
That's the $100 million question, isn't it? It usually takes 2 full seasons for a player of Rose's ability to return to the ranks of the elite. That's what happened with CP3 and others...Amare Stoudemire comes to mind as well...Rose is young (23) which is in his favor...but I always thought his style of play would have to evolve over time and he'd become less acrobatic and more a floor leader. Think about this: most of Michael Jordan's soaring highlights came in the 1980s, before his championship run...The dunks and fabulous finishes, that stuff was 1984-1990...The title run began in 1991...Jordan, spectacular as he was, cut out so much of that above-the-rim stuff as he got to 30...Rose plants and twists so violently...he was never gonna play that way for very long...This has been a subject in NBA circles for 2 years...So, this hastens that evolution. I hope he can be as effective when he comes back. I think he can, but it's gonna take awhile.
Who are you most impressed with after game 1? Who are you least impressed with?
mike wilbon (1:24 PM)
Great question...I'd say I'm most impressed with Lakers and Spurs, and then the Clippers...Least? That's easy. The Knicks. I'm not expecting them to beat Miami, but to lose by 32 or 33 or whatever it was...to just NOT SHOW UP. I expect better from the Knicks tonight, not necessarily a win but a much better effort. Oh, wait...impressed w Orlando, too, to go on the road and get that victory...great job...reminds you that whatever the drama around his team, Stan Van Gundy knows how to coach...
Kevin (New York)
Even as well as Miami played Saturday, they did not play to their true potential. Wade was rusty and Bosh not in game shape, are we seeing the team with the highest ceiling in the history of the league?
mike wilbon (1:27 PM)
no. There's too much they're missing. They couldn't touch the Showtime Lakers or Bird's Celtics or the MJ Bulls...No. suspect bench, no size, no true playmaking guard. The Bad Boy Pistons would have put them in a trunk. Isiah-Wade would have been a standoff, Rodman would have guarded LeBron, Bosh would have struggled with Laimbeer and Sally and Budda Edwards...God no...Miami has the highest ceiling TODAY in a league with too many teams and the talent too spread out, but all-time? Goodness mercy no. And I acknowledge that LeBron is an all-time talent and Wade is in the mix, too, but not enough players...
Tough loss for the C's last night. Under the expectation that Rondo is suspended for 1 game (Mark Davis always has issues with the Celtics) do the Celts still have a chance?
mike wilbon (1:28 PM)
Of course. Even down 2-0 the Celtics always have a chance. Question is, suppose the NBA gives Rondo 2 games and the Celtics have to play Game 3 in Boston without him? And suppose Ray Allen doesn't play again? If Boston is going to win it seems to me it'll take 6, 7 games.
Jamie Micdaniels (Northshore, Texas)
Should memphis be worry about game 1?
mike wilbon (1:28 PM)
Hell yes. To blow a 27-point lead...Hell yes.
How bland is the Nets new logo?
mike wilbon (1:29 PM)
I haven't seen it yet, but "bland" is a word I've heard a lot this morning...Gotta see it before we go on PTI to talk about it.
Am I the only one who finds basketball dreadfully boring this year? There's no team that seems to be playing with passion and energy over 4 quarters, no dazzling players that catch my eye, and other than yesterday's Clip joint comeback, no drama.
mike wilbon (1:31 PM)
The level of play is off, no question. It has been all season. And the players and coaches and even referees know it. The late start, no training camp, insane schedule all contributes. I would, however, disagree with you when you say "no drama." That's plain wrong. There's plenty of drama, though there could be less if the Bulls make the conference finals and have to confront the Heat without D. Rose. It's tough, seeing so many players (D. Howard, Ray Allen, etc) out with injuries but the story lines and drama to me are there in abundance.
D. Brown (ATL)
So the Celtics don't have a bye to the next round as every expert seems to think. Show the Hawks some love Mike!!
mike wilbon (1:32 PM)
Don't get ahead of yourself, jersey popper. The Hawks have never, and I mean NEVER, done anything in the playoffs. So slurp them if you want; I'll wait for them to win a third game before declaring anything. I think Larry Drew and his staff has done a great job with the Hawks, but don't go penciling them into the Finals just yet.
Does this Bulls team are currently constructed (Deng, Noah, Boozer, Rose) ever win a title?
mike wilbon (1:35 PM)
Great question...Depends on Rose's health going forward, on what the Bulls do with Charlotte's first-round pick which is unprotected in three years I think (if the Bobcats don't win the lottery this year that pick could be primo), on what happens with the impressive European kid they drafted in the first round last year, on whether Miami breaks up the Big 3 if they don't win this year...So many ifs...Odds are against them, given what OKC has, given what Miami has and given Rose's injury. I wonder, too, if this was the Bulls best chance...this year...with this group.
Cosmo (Anytown, USA)
How can you give Evan Turner a hard time for answering a question? He was asked who the better match up would be for the Sixers. He answered honestly. Then people like you rip him for 'calling out the bulls' and that he should 'be careful what he wishes for'. He was not pounding his chest saying "I want the Bulls". Now when he is asked that question again, he won't answer. Then more people like you will give him a hard time for not answering. He can't win. Discuss.
mike wilbon (1:38 PM)
My job is to look at all the factors, even answers to questions, and figure out if they have an impact on the competition. PLENTY of times coaches and players are asked questions and don't answer honestly. Hell, USUALLY they don't. I know that guys like Michael Jordan and Larry Bird and Kobe Bryant feed off stuff like that. Jordan once created a slight that not only the media believed, but he believed, and THE OTHER TEAM BELIEVED! Talking about "Nice game, Mike" which supposedly came from the mouth of Washington Bullet LaBradford Smith, yet it never happened. Here's the other thing. Evan Turner has no standing yet. None. If Andre Iguodala had said it, okay. Turner is a sophomore who had a nothing rookie season. I applaud him for speaking his mind; It's MY job to look at what he said and place it in some kind of context when analyzing the series...I don't care what his answer is the next time. I"m not paid to craft his answers...
Do you think the Lakers can make another title run with such a terrible bench?
mike wilbon (1:42 PM)
Only if Dallas beats OKC. A Mavericks win yesterday would have been a win for the Lakers, too. I can't see the Lakers, with such a thin bench (Matt Barnes and Steve Blake are the anchors), beating OKC...This is where Jordan Hill comes in, though. I didn't understand why the Lakers traded for him if Mike Brown wasn't going to use him. Now, suddenly, perhaps because he, too, knew his bench was thin...Brown is getting Hill some minutes. Could be an important development. I want to see if the Lakers have the discipline to play inside-out first and foremost...They did yesterday and the result was devastating.
Ibrahim (Copenhagen (Denmark))
I guess Tom Thibodeau was glad after Clippers game...
mike wilbon (1:45 PM)
You think so? Every coach in the league, perhaps except Pop, would have had the starters on the floor at the end of the game. Coaches play their best players in playoff games, period. If people think other coaches would have played it differently, they're not paying attention to the rest of the league. Coaches ALWAYS have guys in the game when fans and media folk think they should be resting. For my entire life I've screamed at the TV, "They're up 25, why can't they put so-and-so in" or "why can't they sit these guys up 29 with six to play?" The answer is simple: Because they're coaches. The thought of a comeback like the Clippers pulled off is nightmarish for coaches. They wake up in a cold sweat dreaming about stuff like that. So they keep their guys on the floor. It's a fact of life. John Wooden did it, Dean Smith did it, Red Auerbach did it, Phil Jackson did it. It ain't changing. Especially not in the playoffs.
If I had told you Joe Johnson was going to go 3-for-15, would you ever have imagined the Hawks being within 20? The Hawks won a game in which one of their best players did not show up - why is nobody taking this team seriously? Were those 40 wins (one more than Boston, mind you) just luck?
mike wilbon (1:46 PM)
What planet are you on? What have the Atlanta Hawks, even with great players, ever done? Ever? Conference Finals in the last 30 years? I think the answer is "none." So don't even talk about championships or finals appearances. Might they beat the Bulls in the next round to face Miami? Sure. But the Hawks have been mostly irrelevant, my man. Reality check!!! When they get to the conference finals, that's when we'll take them seriously.
Jordan's Bulls in the 90s vs LeBron's Heat now. Seven game series. Who wins and in how many games?
mike wilbon (1:48 PM)
You're kidding, right? Five games. If that. Rodman on LeBron, Pippen on Bosh, Jordan on Wade. Or in the early 90s HoGrant on Bosh, Pippen on LeBron, jordan on Wade...Five games...
Most experts have spoken and written Boston as a given in round 1 against the Hawks. Before Rose's injury, I kept hearing what a great match up the Bulls and Celtics would be. I know its only 1 game in a series, but the Hawks can beat the Celtics.
mike wilbon (1:49 PM)
The Hawks took the Celtics to 7 games four years ago when the Celtics won it all...so yes, they can.
At this point, would you trade Bynum for Howard straight up?
mike wilbon (1:51 PM)
If I'm the Lakers, I gotta know about Howard's back. Thing is, you have to take into account the entertainment quotient in Los Angeles, and Howard fits better in that way. Bynum is SOOOO immature (had to be benched last week) that he might be a better fit in Orlando. But is Bynum a franchise player? how effective would he be playing with jameer Nelson and JJ Reddick and the Anderson kid instead of Kobe and Pau Gasol?
I feel bad for the NHL...they had all these great story lines going..then BOOM a cray first day of NBA playoffs and NHL goes back on the burner..
mike wilbon (1:51 PM)
Yeah...sorta like what happened to the NCAA Tournament this season as well because of the Saints scandal and a bunch of NBA stuff.
mike wilbon (1:53 PM)
Pippen is one of the five greatest defensive players in the history of the NBA. He guarded Magic in 1991 in the Finals and Magic is only the greatest playmaker ever...By the way, we forget that Scott Williams was just like Taj Gibson. Williams, 6-10, guarded centers and power forwards. He'd take Bosh, if you wanted to put HoGrant on LeBron in certain situations. Pippen could and did guard four positions.
Matt (Evanston, IL)
Mike, thanks for taking questions. How do you see Rose's injury affecting the Bulls organization 5 to 8 years from now? That team has become an expensive one to maintain and is built around Rose to win NOW. There's no way they can keep that front court depth, right?
mike wilbon (1:56 PM)
Well, that's why I never want my coach and GM to be the same person. Two different sets of concerns. Winning tonight vs setting up the organization for the long haul. The Bulls do have assets. Asik is one; they might have to give him up. Can't see them keeping both Asik and Gibson, who is a MUCH better two-way player. People WANT Asik...ANd the Bulls have that Charlotte draft pick, and the kid in Europe who has shown flashes of brilliance. Paxon and Gar seem to be really on top of this. And the Bulls still have their amnesty move, should they choose to use it. They're positioned pretty darned well.
Ant (San Antonio)
You the man!! I enjoy your analysis and thoughts on PTI and other shows you appear on. Is it easier to forget about blowing a 27 point lead or to lose by 32? Something tells me its better to be up 27 then to get flat out beat by 32 points, but to lose the game the way the Grizzlies did, is just heart breaking...your thoughts?
mike wilbon (1:57 PM)
I'd rather be in the Knicks position than the Grizzlies' position.
Every hawks fan (GA)
Please explain to me how every time someone ask about the Hawks the answer is always, "well what have they ever done" or "they have to show me something first:, yet it seems the Pacers who have NOTHING always get so much love and are treated like a sleeper. What have the Pacers done the last 5 years the Hawks haven't?
mike wilbon (1:57 PM)
The Pacers are a hunch...nothing more. Neither of them will lay a glove on Miami and either could lose to the Bulls without Rose.
No NFL draft talk? What do you make of the Bears draft. As a Packers fan, I'm scared of what the Bears have done this offseason (trades, FA, draft).
mike wilbon (2:02 PM)
I think I like the Bears draft, but I'm just not a draft guy (glad you posed this question, though)...I didn't watch one minute of it, and won't going forward. Nobody wants to say, "I have no earthly idea." I have no interests in mock drafts or big boards that rank OL in the same general talent pool with quarterbacks and cornerbacks...I know this is a HUGE business, more popular with viewers than anything that happens in basketball or baseball or soccer...The interest in the draft is overwhelming...just not here. I like that the Bears picked a big receiver to go with the big receiver they already signed, Brandon Marshall, and I like that they otherwise concentrated on defense...Unlike some, I like taking that big, fast safety from Oregon in the third round...But I can't tell you how that ranks with the Packers draft or the Vikings draft...I can tell you I think taking the Michigan State quarterback after spending 3 No. 1s on RG3 was an absurd thing for the Redskins to do...Thankfully, there was plenty of basketball to watch and I could easily pay zero attention to an event I've come to find really over-the-top.
Mike, you're a little fiesty talking about the NBA today, so let's switch gears. Any overall thoughts or impressions that stood out to you during the draft?
mike wilbon (2:05 PM)
See last answer! LOL. I'm always feisty on Mondays, Dog...always feisty during the playoffs, too...I didn't study the draft enough to have thoughts on what popped out. I know who the Bears drafted, I know the Redskins took the MSU kid after RG3 which is insane given we're talking about a 6-10 team almost every season...other than that, I went to see Kershaw/Kemp and the Dodgers in person, against the impressive Washington Nationals...I watched tons of pro basketball, very little golf, and NO draft coverage...I had a chance there for a moment Friday to watch some of the draft coverage...but My TV had some Bonanza re-runs on that I picked instead.
Better NHL story : The unknown hot goalie from Phoenix named Mike Smith or the emergence of rookie forward Chris Krieder who 7 weeks ago wasn't even on the NY Rangers roster.
mike wilbon (2:06 PM)
Mike Smith! The guy now has the Coyotes up 2-0 on Nashville after beating the Blackhawks virtually singlehandedly in Game 6 in Chicago...Mike Smith, Mike Smith, Mike Smith. Goaltending is ALWAYS the most important story of the playoffs. Always.
Kevin (SLC, Ut)
Derick Rose is a true sportsman in every sense of the word. I have followed his development from high school and never have been so sickened to see a player go down. As a native to Chicago describe your feelings about him and this recent injury.
mike wilbon (2:07 PM)
My feelings sound an awful lot like you're feelings. And I have a column posted now on ESPN.com which will give you those feelings over 1,300 words...some of those feelings, anyway.
mike wilbon (2:08 PM)
Okay, gotta run and get to the studio to prepare for PTI...See you guys next Monday...thanks for chatting and have a great week...MW