Chat with Michael Wilbon
Welcome to SportsNation! On Monday, ESPN NBA Countdown host Michael Wilbon stops by to chat and share his thoughts on the NBA Finals.
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!
chanman93 (Lehi utah)
If the heat win game 3 does okc stand a chance anymore?
mike wilbon (1:09 PM)
Good afternoon everybody...Let's jump right into the NBA Finals and the U.S. Open...And this seems as good a place to start as any, in regard to the Finals. I think the questioner means, "If the Heat wins Game 4 does OKC stand a chance anymore?" And the answer would be, no. I picked OKC in 7, but for that to happen, the Thunder has to win Game 4 tomorrow night, because no way do I see OKC beating Miami 3 straight to close out the series, even with the Finals having a 2-3-2 format and OKC getting the final two games at home...Last night was there to be had for both teams and Miami took it from OKC, which made some really poor decisions.
Dan C (Chicago, IL)
Didn't the Thunder lose it in the 3rd qtr when they had a nice lead and their ersatz point guard Westbrook made 4 bad decisions in a row?
mike wilbon (1:12 PM)
Well, very possibly yes. OKC was up 10 and the lead easily could have been 15. Let's not beat up on Westbrook, who I thought had a pretty good game. There are other things to zero in on. For instance, Scott Brooks can't have Durant and Westbrook out at the same time...not with Harden having a stinky game. Brooks coached that like a regular season game. Westbrook or Durant HAD to be in the game. And, how about those two fouls on three-point shooters, one by Ibaka, who granted is a young guy, and D. Fish, who isn't. Those foul shots were killers for OKC and really helped Miami not get down too far on the scoreboard...
who is the finals mvp so far?
mike wilbon (1:13 PM)
LeBron James. this isn't difficult. LeBron is playing like the Finals gods of yesterday, from Magic and Bird to MJ and Olajuwon to Duncan and Kobe, Wade and Dirk...LeBron's doing it all, pretty much all the time. What isn't he doing? Last night, 29 and 14! He's been brilliant. He hasn't had an off moment in this series.
What's your thoughts on the Bulls trying to trade Deng for a shorter (i.e. 2 year) contract and a lottery pick (possibly Harrison Barnes) so they can amnesty Boozer after next year?
mike wilbon (1:15 PM)
My thought is: that's insane. Luol Deng is an All-Star, a two-way player who might be the most underrated player in the league. I know money factors into everything. But that move would be a disaster, in my view. I don't know what Harrison Barnes will be as a pro. The Bulls already have a stashed draft pick in Europe who is 6-11, can shoot, and might be better than Barnes (might be worse, too)...It's too big a gamble...Nope. Not in my book would that happen.
Mark Thomas (Nashville, TN)
Who would win in a match up of Jordan, Bird and Magic verses Lebron, Kobe, and Durant?
mike wilbon (1:16 PM)
I'm old. You know who I'm picking. My first-team All-Time NBA Team is Russell/Jabbar/Magic/Bird/Jordan...That answers your question, right?
Angel (New York)
So Durant averages 2 fouls per game for his career and had a total of 2 fouls for both games he played the Heat in regular season (1 personal foul per game). Why is he now averaging 5x that in a Finals where more room for contact is traditionally allowed?
mike wilbon (1:18 PM)
Look, you're barking up the wrong tree if you want to turn the Finals into a gripe-session about the refs. Not gonna happen here. That said, two of those fouls called on Durant last night were, to me, bad calls. I don't see a conspiracy, I see bad calls. If Durant misses a 3 do you see a conspiracy or a bad shot? NBA games are incredibly difficult to officiate. Officials are going to make mistakes. That's that.
Brian Canady (Kansas City, MO )
what do you make of the heat in the finals is this the outcome that everybody thought would happen even if lebron played as great as he has or did people assume that would continue and that OKC was still just a better team to beat the heat?
mike wilbon (1:20 PM)
Good question...I thought OKC was better than Miami, period. I thought LeBron would play really well..I did NOT expect him to play THIS well, though I should have seen it coming, perhaps, in the way he played Game 6 and 7 against the Celtics, facing elimination. But this is what you want to see from a guy many think is the best talent to play the game: dominant play. He's playing that way now, and when he does OKC is NOT better than Miami. OKC, when LeBron plays like this, is not as good as Miami. I don't think OKC can even slow down LeBron...And OKC also doesn't do as good a job riding Durant as it should...This is a case, so far, of the best player playing like the best player...
mike wilbon (1:23 PM)
For Harden? You're talking about that rumor? Well, are you absolutely certain Kidd-Gilchrist is going to be better than James Harden (minus the scoring totals in Games 1 and 3 of this series!)? Or Thomas Robinson? You sound much more certain of that answer than I would be. Why would OKC even take that phone call from MJ? Money, of course. Now, the OKC people say they can have three max players because the owner's pockets are so deep he doesn't give a damn about luxury tax or anything else. We'll see...Maybe MJ feels Charlotte needs a star player, both to build around and sell tickets. The answer, of course, is yes, they do. But is Harden that guy? A lot harder to do alone than it is with Durant and Westbrook...
mike wilbon (1:24 PM)
Ooops, did you guys see that question? I'll reprint in case I forgot to post the actual question... "Is Jordan really crazy enough to trade the #2 pick this year?"
Do you know Kendrick Perkins, personally? Is he a nice dude? What's he like to talk to? Were you scared? The guy is fascinating and terrifying to me.
mike wilbon (1:27 PM)
Ha! I love this question...Yeah, I actually do know Kendrick Perkins. Liked talking to him when he was a Celtic. Don't let the scowl fool you. Completely approachable, quiet guy but really cool to talk to. You don't get any filler from Perkins. Actually, really enjoy talking to him and off the court there's nothing even remotely threatening about him...But he's a guy who can look at a teammate who's doing some knucklehead thing and really set him straight. Really frank, straight-to-the-point...
Bill (Ann Arbor)
Dear Mr. Wilbon, is that really you responding in the comments section as well?
mike wilbon (1:28 PM)
I don't ever look at comment sections of anything at any time, ever. Did if a few times many years ago and realized how twisted some folks are. So no, if you see someone "commenting" as me, it's a lie. I do mine here, or in a column, or on PTI or NBA Countdown, or on Twitter, which is probably something else I shouldn't do!
mrfrazier (dayton ohio)
2 be honest i neva found anything wrong with lebron's game .. do u think he just now really has a team thats really behind him not just watchin what he does...
mike wilbon (1:32 PM)
No. D-Wade said something post-game last night I found fascinating...that if LeBron had a rough patch last year he let it bother him, but he plays right through it now. That's a tangible difference. I think his focus is just razor-sharp, not reading or hearing anything regarding sports during the conference finals and finals...just sort of gathering himself and going about this mission to win a championship. Magic always tells me about shutting things down late in the playoffs when he was playing, about telling his family members, "I love you guys, but I'm checking out now." I had a head coach tell me he told his family members either he or they would have to stay at The Four Seasons during the Finals...and he meant it...LeBron is THAT focused this time, it seems to most people around him.
Did you see Fish take 3 straight shots for 3 straight possessions in the third, i don't think one went in...do u think that's acceptable to okc and coach brooks?
mike wilbon (1:33 PM)
Depends on the shots. He hit two straight big ones against the Spurs. I bet that was okay with Brooks. Look, I love Fisher; I make no bones about that. I don't care who you are or what age, you're going to miss shots. OKC got Fisher for his judgement and to spell Westbrook, and occasionally play alongside him. Fish is fine. OKC's got bigger problems, like LeBron James and getting Durant more shots.
HI Mike, why do every where I read it says James Harden is a max player? Hey I think he is a good player and an all star but aren't people like Hollinger going a little overboard saying he is a max player? He hasen't played well in these finals, and remember Ginobili in his prime was never a max guy....
mike wilbon (1:34 PM)
Ding, ding, ding! We have a winner. I'm with you. I love Harden, love him...But you have to be careful with these projections. I've still got questions. Harden may prove to answer them all, but this is risky territory.
The Finals on ABC is being showed with an approximate 2 minutes delay. What a shame !!!
mike wilbon (1:35 PM)
That's you cable system, Buddy. I got people on the phone sometimes watching the Finals as I talk to them and they're delayed somewhere from 4 to 10 seconds...I'm there live and I know how long it takes them to react on the phone...So, I don't know how you're measuring time.
Does Brooks need to change around his lineup and matchups so Ibaka and Perkins do not spend many minutes together on the floor? Besides Bosh the Heat don't have any player that likes to play within 10 feet of the hoop causing one of these 2 to be drastically out of position on the defense end?
mike wilbon (1:36 PM)
yes, I think you're right. If Ibaka is shooing the ball like he did in the Indy series, okay. And Perkins is capable of a 15-point game, not that OKC needs that. But the Thunder does need one of them to be active offensively if they're both on the floor together...yep.
Agree with you regarding officials, but wouldn't you agree that no-calls would be better than some of the fouls that are getting called against both teams?
mike wilbon (1:37 PM)
Yes. Absolutely, yes. I hate these charging fouls where a player just slides underneath a moving offensive player with the ball. I HATE those fouls. This ain't college basketball. This is big-boy ball and should be played and officiated as such.
I am old too. Thank you for your correct answer.
mike wilbon (1:38 PM)
Conversely, that likely means you're too young and don't know jack about anything that didn't happen in the course of your limited little life and inadequate experience. That's likely correct, too. LOL
LB Heat Fan (DC)
Mr, Wilbon, What is your thought on Coach Spo? Win or lose, do you think he deserves to keep coaching the heat? I am a huge Miami fan but I still think we can't win multiple championships with him...My take is there's been too many instances where he's been outcoached and it's too obvious this team has been winning on talent... what's your thought on this?
mike wilbon (1:39 PM)
From everybody in the know down here, Spo is going to be the coach of the Miami Heat moving forward, win or lose...So the rest is academic, and for you, probably frustrating.
Why are the Finals in a 2-3-2 format?
mike wilbon (1:41 PM)
Money. It surprises me a little that so many people ask this. How much do you think it costs to move two teams, all the traveling parties and equipment across the country? In years where this is, say, Boston and Los Angeles do you think five trips across the country, potentially, is as economically efficient as three trips across the country? There's also, players tell me, a wear-and-tear factor that helps the quality of play in 2-3-2. It's insane the NHL hasn't adopted this. MLB has and they don't even play an Eastern-Western World Series...MLB does it if it's Yankees v Mets...
Sliding under a player with the ball is one thing. MUCH worse when it's off the ball. Just get in front a guy who's running down the court. Those should always be no calls. Seen it too often this season.
mike wilbon (1:42 PM)
thanks for that! Agreed here.
Any thoughts on the US Open, Mike? What did you think about Simpson winning and the collapse of Tiger and Furyk?
mike wilbon (1:46 PM)
Yes...I don't understand people who can watch only one sporting event at a time, especially when one is golf or baseball and there are stoppages in the action that allow you to really zone in on both. People like Tony Kornheiser...Pathetic, to me. Anyway, I don't think Furyk collapsed, do you really? He hit that terrible wedge on 18 after being in the first cut, pulled it left and into the greenside bunker. I wouldn't call that a collapse, though. Tiger, on the other hand, collapsed. Hey, it was a thrill Thursday and Friday when he was right there at the top of the board. But he's not the same Tiger Woods, not yet. That Saturday ending and Sunday beginning were hellish. Wow. You wonder what's in store for golf with Tiger and Phil not being what they were a few years ago. I played in a pro-am with Simpson in September and he was a prince of a guy...Big congratulations to him for surviving the torture that is the U.S. Open.
Hey Wilbon! You think the narrative with how well LeBron's playing this series being driven by the 2-1 advantage for the Heat? Personally, I think he's been great, but I don't think he's quite playing his best yet of these playoffs even - I thought the Celtics series was his best and if LeBron gets back to that level, Heat in 5 would not be unfathomable. Your thoughts?
mike wilbon (1:48 PM)
Well, the Game 6 in Boston for LeBron was more spectacular. Might have been his greatest-ever game...But OKC is better than the Celtics, can we agree on that? Better, longer athletes to get around and over...I think these games LeBron is playing in the Finals are pretty damned impressive. I don't know what more you'd ask him to do...I think he's still at that level, even though the numbers aren't as soaring.
Jim (Silver Spring)
Can your colleague Barry get his Dad to teach OKC how to shoot free throws?
mike wilbon (1:49 PM)
I know...Thing is, OKC was one of the best foul-shooting teams during the regular season. But they laid some bricks last night that cost 'em.
Wilbon, pretty much agree with your All-Time team, but watching Larry Bird try to defend LeBron or KD would be hilarious.My team would be Wilt / Duncan / LeBron / Jordan / Magic
mike wilbon (1:52 PM)
Any team without Bill Russell on it isn't even worthy of discussing. You're talking "defense" and you don't have Bill Russell. Go get some tapes or discs or whatever you want...Don't think things are better today just because you're around. Wilt lost to Russ on the regular, so how can you put Wilt ahead of Russell? And Elgin Baylor--go read Bill Simmons' eloquent presentation of Baylor in his hoops Bible--will tell you just how great Baylor was, how great an athlete in any era...Bird wouldn't even defend KD, Kevin McHale would do that, and McHale at 6-11 with a wingspan of 7-4, could bother anybody's shot...
Why did the US Open start so late? The leaders teed off around 4:00 PM Pacific time, I think. Was it too hot in California to play earlier in the afternoon?
mike wilbon (1:57 PM)
God, it frightens me how little people know about life outside their own house these days. Don't mean to be harsh, but the temperature in San Francisco is in the 60s, maybe 70s. Did you see that players had on vests and sweaters? It's rarely if ever "too hot." Do you know that millions of people live in Northern California? It doesn't just serve at the convenience of folks in the east and midwest. The final group went off at 4 or whatever it was because that's 1 p.m. WHERE THEY LIVE...That, and NBC could put it on in prime time and go against ABC and the Finals. The golf ended around 7:30 pacific time, right? Sorry to make it less than comfy for all the folks back east who demand that things start o their watch or scream bloody murder. Sorry if I'm being harsh and it's not directed at you personally, but all the people I've heard asking this. Networks exist to MAKE MONEY and more eyeballs are available, particularly on Father's Day, in the evening after people are inside and watching TV...In California, it's a strange thing, but they call it "afternoon."
How much do you think Lebron's new love of reading has to do with his focus? think he finally found a way to tune everything out and focus on something, which is carrying over to the games....he doesn't seem to be laughing and engaging with fans anymore, goofing around with team mates etc. He seems as focused on the game as he is on his book pre-game...thoughts?
mike wilbon (1:58 PM)
I plan to examine just that this afternoon...I don't know the answers, but would love to write about it...I am fascinated by the whole thing...
Thoughts on the US Open?
mike wilbon (2:02 PM)
I watched huge chunks of the telecasts from San Francisco on all four days...set my schedule around it, actually, and loved every moment of it. I was locked into every swing Tiger took, like so many people, but was interested to see that Phil and Rory were virtual no-shows. Rory McIlroy is non-existent...So much for "the next great thing in golf" which is the fault of both overly exuberant marketing execs and sportswriters/broadcasters out of control. The kid can't even make a cut. Please. And I don't know what's up with Phil. He doesn't seem mentally into it at all these days...But I was pulling for Ernie Els yesterday, and have played a round with Simpson so I was interested to see how he did...I just like the U.S. Open...It's Waaaaay up on my list of favorite sports events on the world calendar...I hate when it's over...
mike wilbon (2:03 PM)
Okay, gotta run and prepare for PTI...Tony will tell us how "shocked" he is that Tiger suffered a meltdown, and how right he is that Miami looks, so far, like the better Finalist...Some things we just know!
mike wilbon (2:05 PM)
Have a great week everybody, and thanks for chatting...Next Monday will either be a wrap-up chat before I take a break before the Olympics in London (yes, I'll be there writing columns for ESPN.com and doing PTI live) or we'll be chatting about an upcoming Game 7 in OKC...See you then...MW