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 1:30 p.m. ET!
Harold (Pittsburgh PA)
is the knicks win over the heat a serious let down for the heat or more of a statement game for the knicks?
mike wilbon (1:49 PM)
Hi Everybody...just flying into D.C. from Los Angeles, so thanks for starting late...I want to start by saying congratulations to the Knicks for doing one of the harder things in team sports: winning a Game 4 to get on a plane to fly 1.500 miles or whatever it is to go at it again...just for the chance to stay alive. I've learned over the years from athletes in various sports that this is the thing that could be among the hardest to do...Having said that, I DO think it says something not-so-good about the Heat, too. More than one thing can be true. The Knicks played with heart and fight. Miami displayed little fight. They simply didn't look like a championship team. Championship teams don't let the opponent off the mat when they're superior. Miami just looked disnterested yesterday, played with no passion for the most part, until the last couple of minutes...No way right now I'd take Miami against San Antonio or OKC...
fat bald man (pizza hut)
can u ever show up on time?
mike wilbon (1:49 PM)
How long was your commute today? If it wasn't 6 hours, get lost...
Enjoy the chats man. You keep it real.
mike wilbon (1:49 PM)
Thanks for that...
If the Heats don't win it all this year, what do you think will happen to this roster? What do you think is an acceptable trade for Wade and or Bosh?
mike wilbon (1:53 PM)
If they don't win it this year, given what is going to happen with the luxury tax kick-ins from the new CBA, I think you'll see the team reconfigured in some way, whether that means trading one of the big stars for two role players or something else. I think you'll see two of them, probably, but not all three...And I'm not 100 percent certain Bosh is the one to go. Remember, Bosh can be a support player, he can sacrifice his offensive numbers. He's perfectly willing to do that. It's hard, though, to see for one second Miami trading D. Wade. He's the mainstay there, the guy who brought that franchise a championship...I just can't see then trading Wade...So I guess that really does put me back to thinking they would trade Bosh...Put it this way: Miami was built to win NOW, not down the road. And paying out that much money means they'll do something to MAKE it happen. I can't see Pat Riley just sitting back and waiting patiently with this bunch. But, let's wait. Miami is perfectly capable of winning this year.
What value does Lamar Odom's nonguaranteed contract have for the Mavs? Will anyone relinquish a quality player for Odom's deal+Shawn Marion, or will Dallas just buy out Odom and move on from there?
mike wilbon (1:54 PM)
I think Odom still has some value. A team like the Clippers...the Knicks. You're not going to get as much as you would have last summer, but I don't think Odom ends his career like he played this year. I just don't see it. This season, obviously, was a disaster for him...and it was a bad trade for both the Lakers and Mavericks. Each would be better with a do-over...But different surroundings can produce a different result.
Wilbon, your chats are easily my favorites my man. Do you see anybody stopping the Spurs? They're looking pretty dang good...
mike wilbon (1:56 PM)
Thank you...I'm taking the Spurs right now. I know OKC and Miami are perfectly capable of winning it all this season and maybe OKC beats the Spurs, but San Antonio, of those three, has the best coach, the most accomplished superstars (Duncan, Parker, Manu), the best bench, the best role players, fewer potential matchup problems...Yeah, I'd rank my top five in the NBA right now as Spurs, OKC, Miami, Lakers, Celtics...Clippers would be 6th...Big ups to the Clippers for winning two of three so far in that series with Memphis.
Rob (San Antonio)
It is that time of year again. The NBA Playoffs are up and running and the Lebron is not a closer talk has heated up. Is this a fair criticsm and, if it is, will he ever be allowed in the same conversation as Bird, Jordan, Kobe . . . ?
mike wilbon (1:59 PM)
Great question...I think it is fair to discuss. I think he has time to move into that discussion, but the move has to be made this season or next...and he's got a whole lot of ground to cover. Games like yesterday are games MJ, Magic and Bird put in their pockets...Duncan, too. They didn't give away playoff games. Miami just Cadillac-ed it through yesterdays game. Reminded me of the Chargers. LeBron isn't entirely at fault because he shares all major responbilities with Wade...Then again, sharing the load for an entire career would prevent LeBron from being in the above "closer" category, wouldn't it?
Hey Mike sorry about your Bulls never want to see great young players like Rose get injured. That said I think all this talk about a footnote or asterisk next to whoever wins it this year is ridiculous, injuries are part of the game and if you looked hard enough you can always find something. Things couldn't be breaking any better for the Sixers, Boston is the dream 2nd round matchup, Iguodala can shut down pierce and Turner is a tough matchup for Rondo, Heat-Sixers ECF, calling it here.
mike wilbon (2:03 PM)
I couldn't agree with you more. Injuries, as depressing as they are, are an enormous part of all sports. No team can win a playoff series without its best three players (Rose, Noah, and Deng who is out there but not THERE, if you get my drift)...BUT, the 76ers still have to go out there and win these games, so credit to them. The asterisk talk and all this stuff about the officials hosing the Bulls needs to stop. The Bulls hosed themselves by not being able to hold onto a 14-point 4th quarter lead, and by bricking foul shots every game (I been saying for two months sorry foul shooting would kill the Bulls; they'd be up 3-1 or tied 2-2 if they hit foul shots)...I like the way Philly has played and I, too, think the could cause the Celtics some big problems. There's a reason the Sixers beat Boston twice in the regular season...Boston would and should be heavily favored, but it would bee a good series, I think.
Jared (Clinton, OK)
Are the Thunder and Spurs headed for an "epic" showdown?
mike wilbon (2:04 PM)
I think so, yes. But I'll tell you this, I think Lakers-OKC could be headed for an epic series first. Kobe has exhibited such extreme patience with this team, even though I know Bynum has really tried that patience with his immaturity. Kobe's been this patient because he knows there's a chance in this post-season...
Joey Crawford said in NYTimes interview Magic, Michael and Larry never really beefed about calls. That your recollection? Does interaction with refs in today's NBA distract even the good players from concentrating on their own game, as Joey implied? Thanks
mike wilbon (2:06 PM)
Yes. Yes. And yes. Magic and MJ have great stories about their conversations with officials, about good-natured banter and having working relationships with guys over a long number of years. Look, I know those guys had refs who they didn't get along with, too...But I've had referees tell me exactly what Joey said. Having said that, I sit close enough to hear some banter and there are guys who are still adept at working refs without being whiners...just fewer who see it as an art and something that could help the personally in crunch time.
Has anything from the first round, aside from injuries, changed the way you feel about a team's chances? For me, it has probably been the Clippers. Shouldn't be surprised at this point, but CP3's ability to control the game really gives his team a puncher's chance against anyone.
mike wilbon (2:08 PM)
My feeling is the same as yours. The Clippers, because of CP3, are a resourceful team. Remember, Paul has less help than you think with Chauncey Billups injured. Blake Griffin is playing in his first playoff series. CP3 has limited options in terms of whom to throw the ball to reliably in crunch time because Griffin and Jordan can't make foul shots...Caron Butler is playing with a broken hand...Even though I picked Memphis to go the conference finals at the beginning of the season (that ain't gonna happen, by the way) I find myself rooting for the Clippers.
Who do you think will start for the Knicks as the point guard?
mike wilbon (2:09 PM)
Good question. Bibby, right? Tony Douglas doesn't even get a look anymore, does he? You're not suggesting putting Lin right back in there and starting him...or are you?
With Rose being out for the Olympics along with Dwight and LeMarcus, who do you think and hope fill in their spots on the final roster?
mike wilbon (2:10 PM)
I'm not down with putting a couple of college kids on the team...I'm not going to rant against it, I just don't think its the No. 1 option for USA basketball...I think they have enough guys already and shouldn't even worry about replacements.
Do you think Ray Allen will decide the outcome of a game this post season? Is he in good enough shape considering his injury and layoff?
mike wilbon (2:11 PM)
Not at the moment, he isn't. But he's got time if the Celtics keep playing, and it appears they will. Ray Allen is a huge asset, period. What team in the playoffs wouldn't trade for him right now if they could?
Jordan Hill outplayed the Manimal last night and has mostly played very well the last two weeks. Did Mitch Kupchak discover a hidden gem or is his recent performance anomalous?
mike wilbon (2:12 PM)
The acquisition of Jordan Hill was really, really smart. I just don't like that Mike Brown took so long to play him. Mitch knows what he's doing, which is why the new owner, Jerry Buss' son Jimmy, should shut up and let Mitch do his thing. I trust Mitch's eye and judgment a whole lot more than Jimmy Buss'.
Thanks for the chat time! Why is Lebron always criticized for not being a great closer? Isn't the closer if using the baseball metaphor a defensive position? And James is a terrific defensive player? When did taking last second shots become the only definition of a NBA closer?
mike wilbon (2:16 PM)
Good points...very good. Well, closer in basketball and closer in baseball are different. Closer in basketball clearly means you have the ball in the final analysis (like the relief pitcher) and you have to do whatever is necessary to win the game in the final seconds. In basketball, that usually means making a shot or getting yourself to the foul line often enough and successfully enough to not fall behind. (See M. Jordan)...Now, I think what's unfair is deciding it always has to be the last SHOT instead of the last PLAY. I thought in Cleveland, when LeBron played very differently than he does in Miami, that LeBron almost always made the right basketball play, and unfortunately got caught up in this stuff and now has gone to worrying about the last shot instead of the last play. LeBron is such a smart player, and he's more playmaker than scorer (even though he clearly can do both)...I'd like to see him assume the old "point guard" role he did so effectively on Cleveland, where his teammates weren't as talented...
tim duncan (utah)
if i was drafted by boston how many rings would i have
mike wilbon (2:18 PM)
Ha. Love this question...Wouldn't Duncan have at least four rings playing for the Celtics, too. I don't have all the draft lists at my disposal right at the moment, but the Celtics wouldn't have had Paul Pierce if they'd gotten Duncan, so its hard to say. And he certainly wouldn't have played with KG or Ray Allen...So, we'd be looking at different teams, almost certainly different coaches. (Where would Rick Pitino have been all these years if he'd gotten to the Finals early on with Duncan?)...A nice thing to ponder...makes for some crazy speculation.
Michael, what is more likely keeping Erik Spoelstra up at night: the prospect of facing the Thunder's combination of depth and athleticism or the prospect of facing the Spurs' combination of depth and Gregg Popovich's brain?
mike wilbon (2:18 PM)
How about the prospect of playing a Celtics team that whipped his butt three of four times this season?
Rob (San Antonio)
As far as the Clippers go this post season. I think it has exposed the need for Griffin's game to mature. He looks lost out there at times. What do you think?
mike wilbon (2:20 PM)
That he needs to expand his game, starting this summer...A half jump-hook...an up-and-under move...a 12-foot jumper...using glass...something...some or all of the above or even more...Barkley called for this the other night after a Clippers game. Hey, this is Blake's SECOND season, don't forget. He's got time to get better.
If Jeremy Lin is ready for Game 5 should the Knicks play him? If they do play him how much of a difference would Lin make?
mike wilbon (2:21 PM)
I don't think Lin would make much difference at all in his first game in weeks...Game 5 is about Carmelo and Amare again...I don't think Lin would hurt the Knicks; I'm not suggesting that. But it's not like this is February. We're talking about a kid playing his first playoff game. If Blake Griffin is struggling with that, imagine what Lin's going to have to play through in those opening minutes. I hope the kid is healthy enough to play. I'd love to see that.
Robert (San Antonio)
Did you see how many options manu had on that play Pop drew up right before the half? How ridiculous is that?
mike wilbon (2:23 PM)
The most underrated and underappreciated part of professional basketball is intellect. Stupid teams (those with two or more knuckleheads) don't win championships. The Spurs intellect, starting with Pop and going right down that roster, is such a part of their ability to win four titles...going back to guys like David Robinson and Avery Johnson and Sean Elliott and Danny Ferry...You can only do what Pop and Manu and the rest of those players do if you're smart enough to know what the hell's going on. The Spurs do. They always do. That's why I love watching them over the years...I wouldn't mind seeing a Celtics-Spurs Finals because of that...
You are one of the most respected spots voices today, what's your opinion on the potential Shaq/Kobe 2012 version Bynum/Kobe?
mike wilbon (2:26 PM)
Well, I think it's very different because Bynum and Kobe aren't equals the way Shaq and Kobe were. And Kobe is much more patient now. He can seethe over Bynum's behavior and find another way to vent, behind closed doors probably, and not let it bother him publicly. The stuff that bothered a 26-year-old Michael Jordan about teammates didn't bother him in the same way at 32...I think, however, that somebody is going to have to ride Bynum, or at least find the right buttons to push, and while that person wouldn't have been a 25-year-old Kobe, I think Kobe is the exact person in that organization to do it now...
as far as playoff basketball goes, who are your favorite coaches at making adjustments throughout the course of a series? How much impact can these guys have?
mike wilbon (2:27 PM)
Great question...Gregg Popovich, Doc Rivers among active coaches and they make an enormous difference. Enormous. Doug Collins already has in his series with the Bulls, changing his starting lineup to take advantage of subtle advantages in the matchups...
Mark (I know i've submitted this many times, apologies, sort-of)
Mike, hope all is well, have a comment on LBJ and what I think is the reason why he'll never be, or, at least shouldn't be, in the same breath as an MJ or Kobe/Bird/Magic, when it comes to being an ultimate champion (talent, is a different story). After game 3, at The Garden, did you see/notice the first thing that LBJ did, once the game was over? Instead of congratulating his team, on a good win, what does he do? He B-lines it, directly to Spike Lee, to give him the man-hug, and talk stuff up with Spike Lee. Could you, being a die-hard Bulls fan, or myself, being a diehard C's fan, ever, imagine Jordan, Bird, Magic (the true great competitors) etc... doing that? This, to me, is what make's it IMPOSSIBLE to like this guy, and, truly appreciate just how good he really is, because, from the outside, at least, he cares more about the LBJ image, making sure everyone loves him, than, winning. I truly want(ed) to appreciate, just how good of a player he really is, but, he just makes it so challenged, to-do-so. What are your thoughts? Thanks.
mike wilbon (2:31 PM)
You raise a point that is raised by all-time great players frequently. I used to think, when LeBron was younger, that it spoke to a jealousy of sorts. But after hearing it expressed in great detail by, oh, a dozen or so former greats I have to listen to it. You articulate that now...I do think some of it means that LeBron wants to be liked, which I don't think is a bad thing. I do. Most people do. That's why the whole "villian" thing last year drove me crazy, and I told LeBron that. He's not a villian. He's really a very nice guy...He gets into trouble, to me, when he tries to be somebody else, a tough guy or whatever. But so many players tell me he wants to be liked in a way Bird and Jordan, particularly, didn't care about, and works against winning. My answer is that Magic is a COMPLETELY different personality type from Bird and Jordan and it worked for Magic...Still, this is an observation that is worth discussing, until LeBron breaks through and wins anyway.
so you praise pop for his intellect right? part of his intellect was knowing how to manage his guys minutes. What does that say of thibs who ran his players into the ground?
mike wilbon (2:32 PM)
Different strokes for different folks. Phil jackson played his guy 40 minutes all the time. How do you like his intellect? I'm talking about all the rings. That part.
Did you see the Philly fans (the whole stadium) cheering when Noah got injured? How rediculous was that....I mean come on...
mike wilbon (2:32 PM)
It's Philly. You expect different? Ask Michael Irvin what he expected.
Do you agree with the voices saying Bynum needs more shots?
mike wilbon (2:33 PM)
Bynum needs to grow the hell up...if he can.
Michael S (CHI)
do you think the bulls should blow up their team next year? (and by blow up i mean look for a 2nd star) rose wont be the same, deng could be hobbled for awhile and boozer, well he's not the $75 million man
mike wilbon (2:33 PM)
It won't happen, but I'm wondering the same thing you are...for the same reasons. But its a convervative organization...They'll do the prudent thing, not the aggressive thing.
The question I will continue to argue for the rest of my life with a choice number of people I would like your opinion on. For a career, are you taking Kevin Garnett or Tim Duncan? Rings can't be the deciding factor when Duncan has played with as many great players as he has, Garnett took a team to the western conference finals where the next best players were Cassell, Sprewell, Szczerbiak and Olowokandi. But which one would you take?
mike wilbon (2:36 PM)
I'm going with Duncan. More versatile. Better power player, which KG never was. Look, you're not going to hear me be critical of either player, both of whom are going to the Hall of Fame. But KG's teams couldn't get out of the first round for the longest. He was not different, in that regard, from T-Mac, who is assailed for his playoff record, even though T-Mac had some of the great playoff performances in the last 15 years. But I'm taking Duncan, who I think would have flourished in any system and with players we don't think nearly as much of...Sam Cassell, by the way, has two championship rings...Sam was a stud and if he hadn't gotten hurt in the conference finals in 2004, I think it was, the T-Wolves would have beaten that squabbling Lakers team.
mike wilbon (2:37 PM)
You guys are on fire with great questions and issues today...I hate to go but I gotta an old man with 8 or 9 little strands of hair screaming at me to get into the PTI meeting (LOL)...So I gotta run...Really had fun, even more than usual with these questions today...See you guys next Monday...Thanks for chatting and have a great week...