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!
Paul (Portland, OR)
So Michael, do you think Kevin Durant sat on the bench feeling sorry for himself at all, or do you think he watched the court and the Heat bench, noted it in his head and said to himself, "I am NOT going to ever feel this way again."? I'd like to think the latter.
Mike Wilbon (1:17 PM)
Talk about spinning it forward! We might as well begin with saying Congrats to the Miami Heat for such an impressive championship performance, especially LeBron James for not only his play but for his graciousness as a winner...something we rarely see anymore...Anyway, welcome to our last chat until the Summer Olympics, where I plan to be with you guys from London for a couple of Mondays...As for Durant, of course that's what he was thinking...just as LeBron before him and Shaq/Kobe before him and Michael jordan before them and Larry Bird before him...Of course, you think Charles Barkley and Malone/Stockton and Patrick Ewing and Reggie Miller didn't say the exact same thing to themselves in that moment of despair when they realize they've come so far, yet fallen inches short? Think Durant feels any differently than those guys, Hall of Famers who never won? Knowing all of them, I sincerely doubt it.
On PTI you rated the Wiz's trade for Okafor and Ariza highly, but many others seem down on it. Do you feel the culture change is worth taking on the salary?
Mike Wilbon (1:22 PM)
Great question, which I've been discussing a lot with people, including coaches and executives/scouts I talk to on a regular basis. They feel I overrated the trade, based on projected on-court performance. And on that basis, the trade is just okay. I, however, was looking at much smarter the Wizards got by getting Okafor and Ariza. I'm looking at the basketball IQ rising, the locker room IQ rising. I'm looking at a franchise whose locker room was loaded with clowns and bums the last six years getting smarter, more mature, more adult, more professional. I realize you shouldn't have to pay so steep a price for those attributes, and I realize Ernie Grunfeld is undoing the mess he made when he has to make these kinds of deals. But the bottom line is, I think the Wizards improved the on-court product a little bit, and the overall product a LOT. These are guys you're happy to have and aren't going to engage in gun-play in the locker room or not know the plays or fight each other on Christmas Eve in a club...Know what I'm sayin'?
Ken (Philly )
Do you see the Sixers making the move as the #2 team in the east with all that young talent and other teams big changes
Mike Wilbon (1:24 PM)
Sure, why not? The East is dreadful...totally in flux...AGAIN. The Bulls have zero idea where they're going until Derrick Rose's health situation is clear and nobody knows when that'll take place. The Knicks look like the early challenger, along with the Pacers, for the No. 2 spot to me...But I like Philly. I like the roster, I LOVE the coach (as anybody who knows me is aware)...But they need a stud. They need a guy who can pull them out of the fire when need be...or throw the other guy in the fire. They gotta make a deal and I don't know that would bring. But that's the objective for Philly.
Nash to Toronto - will it happen and does it make sense for both parties?
Mike Wilbon (1:25 PM)
Why would Nash want to play for a team that has less chance of challenging than the one he's on. That makes NO sense for Steve Nash. He doesn't HAVE to end his career in his homeland. He's spent the last 20 years (college included) right here in the U.S.A. Steve Nash, if he leaves Phoenix, should go to a serious contender, period. And if no serious contender needs him (Dallas?) then how about somebody in the second group of contenders, like Utah? Toronto? Just because he's Canadian? Really?
Derrick Rose (Secret Rehab Location)
The Bulls have a strong team, but I'm starting to question whether it's a championship-caliber team. With the rumors about Chicago trading Deng for a lottery pick, I've heard you say you hope it's not true. Why not take a shot - as currently constituted, there's not enough to move past the Heat we saw in the Finals or the OKC we saw leading up to the Finals. I need a ring man!
Mike Wilbon (1:30 PM)
The Bulls are in a precarious situation now. I wonder if a team is really going to give back a great pick for Luol, not that he's not worthy because he is, but because he's going to have to have surgery that will keep him out until December...But you subtract two All-Stars from ANY team and what you've got is a lottery team. It's one thing to play 15-20 games without those guys and you think they're coming back...But a couple of months without Deng, perhaps, and maybe the entire season with Rose? The Bulls, in the state they're in now, are not a serious contender. Don't let anybody fool you. Can they get back to the point? Sure. If Rose, like Chris Paul and Amare Stoudemire just to name a couple of guys, can come ALL the way back. If that 6-11 kid they have stashed in Europe from last year's draft(wow, he looks great on YouTube) comes over and is the real deal, if Deng can be himself next season. I don't see how the Bulls are a major player on the national scene until 2013-14 season. Chicagoans will pay close attention; I know I will. But will the Bulls be relevent next season, in the context of seriously contending? I don't see how.
Are the Raptors going to be any good this season?
Mike Wilbon (1:31 PM)
When is the last time the Raptors were any good? You really need to ask this question? You think they're going to be good overnight without having the overall No. 1 pick and cap room to sign two max-free agents?
Do you believe in Andre Drummond?
Mike Wilbon (1:32 PM)
I don't know. Talked to scouts about him last week, and surprise!!! they seem split. He's got the physical tools. I mean, I LIKE him, but is he going to have an impact next season or more likely his second season in the league? I don't know. Nobody knows.
Jay (Tacoma, WA)
Now that the NBA season is over, what one thing/event surprised you the most?
Mike Wilbon (1:35 PM)
Love this question...I don't know that there were any real surprised up top. I picked Miami to win 58 games of 66 games, which was dumb, but it demonstrated that on Christmas Day when the season opened I thought Miami would be a world beater...They never reached that level of play until the Finals...Who knows, they may start that way next season. How about the Clippers? I thought they were a 7 seed, maybe a 6...I didn't have them being as good as they were or winning an round in the playoffs...I picked 15 of the 16 playoff teams, so I think it all played out about the way I thought it would...
Mr. Wilbon.... PLEASE ANSWER....Why is it that Houston (Big Market, 4th largest city in America, cheap mansions, no state tax) can not attract any free agents? What gives man? Do the players have a bad feeling about our owner or something?
Mike Wilbon (1:39 PM)
Great question...There's some history of winning in Houston, too. I don't know. Chris Bosh was interested, but wanted to do the Miami Hookup with LeBron and Wade so that Bosh out of the mix. I don't get it, really. Then again, how many franchises sign big free agents. Lakers. Heat. Knicks. Suns. Isn't that about it. Celtics do it with trades. Bulls have done it through the draft. Not many teams build that way. Houston, historically, has had some great GMs (they have one now! A good Northwestern man in Daryl Morey) who have drafted wisely and made good trades...It doesn't seem to be a destination. I think basketball people, when they think of basketball hotbeds, don't think of Texas, although the Spurs/Rockets/Mavs/ have won 7 championships, all since 1994...
So the Heat can flip that switch pretty well huh?
Mike Wilbon (1:42 PM)
Well, to listen to LeBron he decided at some point he had to go back to playing the way he did when he was younger, which means more Magic/less Michael...He said the other night after the game he didn't like the way he was playing and needed to be better...I think that takes a damn secure man to first address it, then admit publicly something wasn't working. I think he flicked it for good in the Pacers series when he got Wade going even though Wade was hurting (and still is, both knees, not just one as I suspected and said repeatedly)...and when he said "to hell with the three-pointer" and started driving to the basket like Emmitt Smith heading for the end zone, THAT's when Miami could complete the task...not before. Listen to LeBron's conversations Thursday night and into Friday morning. Listen to him and what he said about the process that was somewhere between evolving and transformation.
Do you buy into the talks about how Indiana needs a star? Obviously it would help, but no star is going to WANT to come to Indiana.
Mike Wilbon (1:45 PM)
That's why you TRADE for him. I didn't see many stars looking to go anywhere but L.A./N.Y./Miami/PHX so you make a deal. You trade...Get a guy you think can be a star for you. I don't know who that is, but there are guys out there who would be better suited to Indiana. Was Reggie Miller a star? Right. They had him. Drafted him. It's hard. There aren't enough to go around. You gotta identify a guy, be smart about it, and get lucky, too.
Joel (Chapel Hill)
Hey Mr. Wilbon! Which non-basketball events are you most excited to see/cover in London?
Mike Wilbon (1:47 PM)
Basketball, by the way, is about 8th on my list. Swimming, track-and-field, team handball, boxing (an Olympic favorite of mine)...There might be some off-the-charts story from anyplace, from women's wrestling or fencing. You never know. You show up, nose around, listen, and BANG! Also, you go to the events, lots of them, stuff you'd NEVER go to at home...I once walked into a table-tennis final and would up sitting behind the King and Queen of Sweden. Seriously. I think it was Sweden. Yeah, Sweden. The most poignant things I think I've ever seen in sports, I've seen at the Olympics...
Do you see the heat getting any big parts this offseason (Allen, Kaman, Nash, Oden), do you see Miller and Jones retiring. If so how does that help the Heat in luring these FA's
Mike Wilbon (1:49 PM)
Nope. Ray Allen? Okay, possibly. But what makes people think Steve Nash handling the ball, which is the way he plays, is smart when you have LeBron James handling the ball. Didn't LeBron just win a championship, in part because he decided to go back to the old way he played (early career in Cleveland) when he was as much set-up man as scorer? Lamar Odom? No. I hear the Clippers are ahead of the field in that chase, if there is one..They just won. Why do more than tweak?
Lebron James (Miami Parade)
Do you think I should opt out of my contract in 2014 and go back to Cleveland to restore my image and win those fans a championship? By 2014 Wade will be getting around in a wheel chair. Miami will still be over the salary cap and bringing in past their prime players who are hungry for a ring. While Cleveland will have Irving, TT most likely Barnes or Beal along with the player they use their 24th pick on. That team plus me would be the most dangerous team in the NBA.
Mike Wilbon (1:51 PM)
You paint an interesting picture. And if home is calling him that loudly, okay. I think it would take winning in '13 and '14 to do that, though. And Gilbert, loser than he is, hasn't exactly extended an olive branch. Sounds like LeBron might be interested in a reunion some day, but not the owner.
Man, the Cubs stink. How much time do you anticipate it taking Theo to turn it around?
Mike Wilbon (1:52 PM)
What, this is a surprise to you? Did you think that because Theo showed up a lousy roster was going to be transformed into a winning one? It's gonna take 3-5 years. Yes, years. The Cubs do stink. But I like what they're doing, not going after big-name vets to get to 80 wins. Just stay the course. We've lost for 104 years or whatever it is. What's three or four or even five more?
Chris (Broadview Heights, OH)
Before I type this question, full disclosure I am a Cleveland fan but what I'm about to ask isn't to "hate" on LeBron it's to clarify a statement. I heard he stated he took no shortcuts. I can quantify that in regards to his personal approach in regards to training, etc. But if he believes he took "no" shortcuts is hypocracy. His final destination (while it was his free choice) was a ready made shortcut. Any thoughts? Mainly because I hope Miami's shortcut and "The Big 3" in Boston is not a trend.
Mike Wilbon (1:55 PM)
Yeah, I kind of agree with you on interpretation of "shortcut." MJ didn't take a shortcut. He stayed. Helped the guys he had get better, and bugged the hell out of management to get better guys...And won. There. With the team he began with...LeBron didn't do that. I wonder, if in his heart of hearts, he wonders "what if" he'd been able to do this at home. He'd be the hero of heroes to win in Cleveland. I have enough family and friends there to have a sense of what it would be like if you led Cleveland to a championship in one of the three major sports. Wow. And if you're a native of NE Ohio? Double wow! But, chances are he'll never know...
Could a mediocre season be a blessing in disguise for the bulls? Go into playoffs in the middle of the pack, and try to improve on the 2 spot in the draft (hopefully not at the cost of Deng)
Mike Wilbon (1:56 PM)
It's a favorable spin, I know that. I've already been painting that scenario, probably because that's the one we're stuck with...Don't know if it'll be good in the long run or not. Nobody, not even the best GM (Jerry West, Pat Riley) has a cyrstal ball...
Damon (Santa Cruz)
Simmons mentioned that it took Wade playing at sub-100% for the team to sort out its Batman/Robin thing. Agree? Also, what's the over/under on Wade playing at a high level? I say 3.5 seasons. You?
Mike Wilbon (1:59 PM)
Yes, I agree. Because Dwayne knew he was hurting and limited (relative to all he can do historically)...just because he never said anything publicly doesn't mean he didn't say anything to LeBron. the "It's your team" baton hand off was as mature a thing as you'll see from a guy not already over the hill. Wade is going to do everything possible and then some to get his legs into the kind of condition that will allow him to play next season the way he did, say, 2006. How long will that last? Who knows. If he can get a couple of seasons after turning 30 (which I think he just did, or is about to do) then that's all you can expect in the NBA...all you can expect from a guy who is 6-4 who threw himself around and people 6-6 and 6-7 and crashed into stuff like Ken Griffey Jr. for 9 years already plus international basketball representing his country...I hope it's 3 full seasons because I'm a Wade fan...but we just don't know.
What is the 1 out of 16 teams that you missed when you predicted the playoffs? I'm guessing it was the Utah Jazz.
Mike Wilbon (2:00 PM)
Bingo!!!! You got it. I think I had Houston...Missed Utah. And I really like Utah when I look at that roster, particularly the Bigs...which is why I think Steve Nash there could create a 50-win team...
tony (san antonio)
How crazy would it be if Tony Parker's career ended because of that NYC club fight? He is in danger of losing full sight in one eye!
Mike Wilbon (2:01 PM)
That would just be tragic. seriously. I hope all these things I hear are exaggerated and that Tony Parker will be okay in short order...I don't even want to entertain the opposite.
Mike Wilbon (2:05 PM)
Okay, gotta run and prepare for PTI...Program tease: I hear that Mike Tyson is going to be our guest today for 5 Good Minutes. That's what I hear. Haven't been in the production meeting yet (that's where I'm going now) but there's a buzz in the air around here! Tyson...Wow. Got tons to ask Big Mike...I hope this is true!!! Okay, I really do have to run. I'm going to become a total slacker the next few weeks, doing as little work as I can (lots of time in Chicago at Wrigley, maybe The Cell) and playing as much golf as I can. I won't have another chat until the first Monday of the Olympic Games from London...And don't come with just basketball questions. I'm not there to cover basketball. There's no Magic Johnson or JB or Broussard. I'm going old school, working for ESPN.com and writing columns every day off whatever I fancy or whatever is going on in the news from London...So, think Summer Games, peeps. Thanks for the chats every Monday since the Labor Day weekend...Enjoy the summer, see you soon...Thanks...MW