Chat with Michael Wilbon
Welcome to SportsNation! On Monday, ESPN's Michael Wilbon stops by to chat from London about the Olympic Games.
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 (1:03 PM)
Helloooooo from London. Hope you're all good. Happy to talk about Olympic stuff for about the next 45 minutes before I have to prepare for PTI, which I am doing at a studio a few minutes walk from my hotel in Central London...I'm excited to be at my 10th Olympics, the first one for ESPN. Three Winter Olympics (Albertville in '92, Nagano in '98 and Salt Lake City in 2002) and seven Summers ('84 Los Angeles, 88 Seoul, 92 Barcelona, 96 ATL, 00 Sydney, 04 Athens)...This is it for me, 10 and out, so I'm really excited about getting around to events different than things I see all the time in the U.S. Forgive me, those of you who want to talk about U.S. men's basketball team a ton. I watched them once in person, once on TV (Lithuania game) but can see those guys play anytime...It's track&field, boxing, team handball, swimming...things like that I love at the Olympics...
Brian (New Orleans)
What has been the most compelling storyline in the Olympics thus far?
Mike Wilbon (1:07 PM)
So far, I think you'd HAVE to say Michael Phelps and his re-writing of Olympic history, right? There have been a lot of great story lines, including Gabby Douglas and her gymnastics gold medal. If you're a Brit, then Jessica Ennis and Andy Murray have been the highlight of a Games where only China and U.S. have earned more medals, so far. BUT. Usain Bolt is asserting himself in a major way and by Thursday, if he wins the 200, could rival Phelps in terms of being the No. 1 story. And if it's not an athlete, it's the ticket issues. London, in my view, has been a tremendous host, and I think the ticket issues probably have to be pinned on the IOC. The distribution of tickets, on a 1-10 scale, has been a -1...It's awful, unforgivably awful, and that's an inescapable story for those who live her or traveled to London hoping to see an Olympic event...any event...
Matt Porter (Dayton)
did you like the coverage time for the mens 100m final? This knucklehead did not like it at all.
Mike Wilbon (1:10 PM)
Matt, I'm HERE Dude. Why would I see "coverage" of the men's 100m when I'm sitting there watching it. You're at home, frustrated, it sounds like, with NBC's coverage. But I can't see that. I go to the events I want to see, to write about them for ESPN.com or talk about it on PTI or some other platform...I have zero idea of what you're seeing, though I did hear Gabby Douglas and Usain Bolt were on in their respective events at 11 eastern or later...The 2008 Games in Beijing were the first Summer games I watched on TV since 1976 because 1980 was the boycott and I attended every other Summer Olympics...Coverage is something I know nothing about...
Chris McFaul (Kansas City, Missouri)
Is Micahel Phelps the Michael Jordan of the Olympics?
Mike Wilbon (1:11 PM)
Michael Phelps is one of the two or three greatest Olympians who ever lived...Maybe No. 1 in your book...No. 2 in mine, at least at this point while we watch Bolt...If Bolt goes 100 and 200 in back-to-back Olympics he's right there with Phelps...It's great to be able to see the two of them, Phelps in his last swim Friday night and Bolt in that electrifying 100m race last night, the greatest footrace in the history of man...It's extraordinary...
Hey Mike,Welcome back! I wanted to get your take on NBC's Olympic Coverage? I know it is all about ratings, but why can't they show the big events live then just show them again in primetime. I can't check twitter or any websites after 11 am otherwise I will know all the results. Thoughts?
Mike Wilbon (1:15 PM)
This is going to be the last NBC question I take...I'm in London Steve. IN LONDON. There is no NBC on television here. None. We've got BBC, which is doing a fine job from what I can tell...Not only that but even if I could see NBC I wouldn't comment much on the coverage because I work for a competitor, which is the classic definition of conflict of interest. But do you think I'm sitting around watching "the coverage" when I am credentialed and actually attend the events and practices (not many this time around) and news conferences and mixed zone appearances to talk to the athletes and coaches? So, that's the last "coverage" question...You'd have to ask a TV critic about NBC's coverage, which I'm sure there's plenty of discussion about back home.
Brian (New Orleans)
What not well-know sport has interested you the most at the Olympics?
Mike Wilbon (1:18 PM)
I love watching team handball, which practically doesn't exist in the U.S. In case you haven't been able to see any it has elements of basketball and water polo, just on a court, not in water...It's hard to describe but unbelievably athletic. I love seeing it and this is the only place I've ever been able to find it. I'm not much on Judo or Greco-Roman wrestling, though I've seen both at other Olympics, just not this time...I've gone to fencing a time or two and found it okay, though not fascinating. I like the table tennis, don't care at all about the shooting or equestrian events, though I see their appeal completely...
Brian (New Orleans)
Name a sport that should not be part of the olympics, and name a sport that should be part of the olympics?
Kris G (Indy)
What non-NBA player at the Olympics have you been most impressed with? And which non-NBA player at the Olympics do you think could have a solid career in the NBA if given the opportunity?
Mike Wilbon (1:20 PM)
Rhythmic gymnastics and synchronized swimming/diving whatever, get it out...Gone. I know there are people who like it, just not me...And I readily acknowledge how difficult these things are. Wait, does anybody know if those things are still in? Maybe they're out already...
Wilbon, have you been following the Northwestern alums in the Olympics? Wildcat Alum Matt Grevers goes for gold in the 100M backstroke finals this afternoon!
Mike Wilbon (1:21 PM)
I was there at the pool for Grevers swimming the first leg of the relay that resulted in the final gold medal for Michael Phelps, and was thrilled a Northwestern alum won...No question I was pulling for Matt...
Favorite moment so far?What event are you looking forward to this week?
Mike Wilbon (1:24 PM)
Favorite moment: Bolt. Looking forward to most: More Bolt.Are you kidding? It's electrifying. People were afraid to go to the bathroom at the stadium 30 minutes before the race started Sunday night. People were like "I don't want to miss Bolt; I'll hold it." Honorary mention:watching Irish boxer Katie Taylor just light up the boxing venue. OMG! The girl swings like Adam Dunn with the accuracy of Tom Brady. And the most emotional moments, without question, were watching our hosts react to the victories of Jessica Ennis and Andy Murray...very different reactions, mind you, but such exultation!
Hi Wilbon - Have you caught any swimming events? I've paid more attention to the past 2 Summer Olympics. Essentially every swimming event is AMAZINGLY difficult and takes the most stamina and endurance I've seen any athlete of any sport have to give. Thoughts?
Mike Wilbon (1:27 PM)
I was at swimming, most recently, Friday night for Michael Phelps last swim...or was that Saturday; I'm all screwed up on the days. Anyway, what I learned a long, long time ago is that ALL these disciplines require a level of talent, work, attention to detail that is extraordinary. I look at something like the steeple chase and marvel, or the 110m hurdles or heavyweight Greco Roman wrestling. They ALL require stamina and heart and grace under pressure. ALL of them. So, I generally try to not compare them. I like going from venue to venue to watch things I'm never going to see again the next three years.
David Ragland (Arkansas)
The Dream Team vs The 2012 Olympic squad seems to be the hottest question of this years olympics. As it has been said before, the talent level of basketball has spread to new hights among all theses different countries then in previous years. With that being said, why is the Dream Team so favored against the 2012 team?
Mike Wilbon (1:32 PM)
Because the 2012 team is nowhere near as talented or as skilled as the Dream Team...NOWHERE NEAR...Charles Barkley was dead-on when he said only 3 members of the 2012 team could MAKE The Dream Team...LeBron, Kobe, Durant...That's it. Okay, maybe Chris Paul, but that's it. Is there a shooter on this team as good as Chris Mullin? No. Is there a post-player on this team within miles of Karl Malone? No. A big man as versatile as David Robinson? Hell no. As unstoppable as LeBron is, remind me of who in the history of the game ever stopped Michael Jordan? Is there a passer on this team as good as Magic Johnson or Larry Bird? Hell no. I LOVE the guys on this team, love them. Professional, unselfish, students of the game, good people...Chris Paul is one of my favorite people in sports. I think the guys on this team are just great...They're just not anywhere near as good a the '92 team, and young people being pissed off because guys like me who covered both teams keep saying it ain't gonna change the reality of the situation...
Brandon (London, England)
Here's a fun fact for you Wilbon. Jesse Owens at the 1936 Olympics scored a 10.3 seconds to win a gold medal. If Owens had that exact time in yesterday's race he would of finished outside the top 10 results. How crazy is that?
Mike Wilbon (1:38 PM)
I just spent about six hours Saturday night reading the year-by-year account of the men's 100m race...every year since 1896...I'm fascinated by it, by Owens in particular...Owens, Carl Lewis and now Bolt. Remember, if you take away the elevation and distorted effect altitude had on the '68 Games in Mexico City (where future Cowboys receiver Bob Hayes ran 9.9something), Carl Lewis in 1984 was the first man to break 10 seconds in the Olympics...I think Carl's mark was 9.99 and he went to 9.92 in 1988...And as recently as 1992 in Barcelona, only the winner (Linford Christie of Great Britain) was under 10 seconds...So, in all that time, 76 years since Owens won, only .7 seconds have been knocked off the time... Great thing about footraces? It ain't about the suits or the water or any of that garbage. Guys lace up shoes and get after it, the most elemental event of the Olympics.
Thoughts on the badminton controversy? Kicking those teams out of the tournament seemed too harsh to me. I blame the event organizer for setting up a situation where it was adventageous for the teams to lose.
Mike Wilbon (1:39 PM)
I'm with you. Don't set it up that way and there won't be tanking. They should never have been kicked out, especially when you consider the British cyclist who faked a crash to get a do-over start. That stood and the team ultimately won gold. Come on.
How fast do you think Bolt could run the 100m if he actually powered all the way through?
Mike Wilbon (1:39 PM)
9.49...I don't think he'll do it though. He likes the attention and the drama of doing it incrementally.
Ron (Bloomington, in)
Do you miss Tony? What is your favorite food in London?
Mike Wilbon (1:42 PM)
I talk to Tony every damn day. Miss him??? It's not like I'm eating anything different in London than I do in Washington...right down to the Quarter Pounder with cheese and fries I just had while doing this chat! London really ain't the other side of the world. It's not like Australia when it comes to eating. I had some of the best pancakes I've had in 10 years last week...But I will say this: since I've been in Europe I've experienced two of the great restaurants of my life, anywhere in the world: Pershing Hall in Paris and Hakasan in London, in Mayfair to be exact. Both make my all-time/anywhere the world list.
Thoughts on Oscar pistorius?
Mike Wilbon (1:43 PM)
It's absolutely inspirational every time he takes the starting blocks. I'm thrilled, absolutely thrilled, to have watched him...and in awe.
Do you think it is time to go back to the traditional way of scoring amateur boxing matches. The Roy Jones result was a result of bribery. Its a simple fact. These results are a result of many factors, including a crappy system, incompetence, and probably some bribery. The latter is clearly worse, correct?
Mike Wilbon (1:44 PM)
Yeah, I think you're right on all counts. And it depresses me because I have so loved Olympic boxing...and now, in the context of America's role, it's over. We have one male boxer left...Given what the U.S. team's role has been in boxing all these decades that is unthinkable...and the officiating, regardless of who is fighting, is unspeakably awful.
What was the reaction in London to Murray winning the Gold? Was a bigger deal than if he had won Wimbledon?
Mike Wilbon (1:46 PM)
Oh no...Nooooo. The reaction even during the match was, "He's disappointed us so many times...isn't it great Jess Ennis won last night!" I was wowed by the reaction. Look, they supported him, they love him, they're thrilled he won. But I spent two days asking Brits, "What about Andy Murray" and they're response was "What about Jess Ennis!!!!" You could see it coming; I said it on PTI Thursday, I think it was...They're scared of him because he's crushed their hearts so many times. They're relieved about Murray, excited for Ennis...I think that's the difference...
Bryan (Springdale, AR)
Most fascinating person you have seen attending the Olympics as an observer?
Mike Wilbon (1:48 PM)
It's not like Sydney when I sat behind the King and Queen of Sweden at the table tennis...Look, I'm in the press section of these things 3 hours early to get a good seat. And in the bowels of the arena until 2 hours after trying to write a column...not a lot of interacting going on...not like Staples Center where I can walk over and say hello to---wait for it, wait for it--Denzel Washington whenever I want...And YES, I do on occasion!
jamie (north carolina)
i just saw synchronized swimming on tv...what's your take on sports such as that one being in and ones such as baseball, softball, and even golf not being in? and do you think it's fair to have so many different races in swimming while in some sports there's only one competition?
Mike Wilbon (1:50 PM)
I don't need to see baseball or golf in the Olympics. That's just me. It's okay to have a million races in Swimming. People just shouldn't be so stupid as to think a damn good swimmer with five medals is better than Usain Bolt who is only gonna have three, max...There are fools out there who aren't smart enough to look past the differences in the sports, who are unable to assess impact...
Does a rematch between Japan and USA in women's soccer interest you?
Mike Wilbon (1:51 PM)
Goodness yes...That's what I want to see, without question.
John (Providence, RI)
During this whole Dream Team vs 2012 Olympic team debate, I keep on hearing this current team has LeBron, Kobe and Durant and that no one can stop them. If I remember correctly, the Dream Team had two of the greatest defensive players in history that played those same positions in Jordan and Pippen. Not that Kukoc was in LeBron's or Durant's league, but Jordan and Pippen took it as a personal challenge to flat out embarrass Kukoc and they did. I think Jordan and Pippen would have taken it to a whole new level defensively against Kobe, Lebron and Durant.
Mike Wilbon (1:57 PM)
Yeah, you're right. It kills me now to hear these debates during the playoffs about whether Kobe or LeBron or KD should guard the other team's best player because "he might have to expend too much energy" or "he might get in foul trouble" or "his team depends on him so much to score." What?What kind of b.s. is that?Jordan and Pippen took the other team's guy the whole damn game, foul trouble or not. THE WHOLE GAME. I hate these whiny stat-freak types who don't know enough of the history of the game to know that, to know that jordan DEMANDED he guard Clyde Drexler or Dominique. Pippen DEMANDED to guard Magic. Went to Phil Jackson and said, "Put me on Magic." Guys now guard somebody for a quarter and it's supposed to be such a great defensive effort. Please. Stop handing me that b.s. Some of us know better...You young'uns better get a video or something...Didn't KD start off during the Finals one game on Joel Anthony? Didn't he? Are you kidding me? You think Scottie Pippen would have been on some non-player during his time? Not that its KD's fault; he's not the coach. But don't tell me these guys are as great as those guys. There ain't NOBODY in the world today who played defense as well as Jordan and Pippen together. Nobody.
Does it not bother you that you may never truly see Bolt's best? I love the entertainment too, but come on ... just once run full on, so we can see what he can do.
Mike Wilbon (1:58 PM)
Oh, I want to see Bolt give one max effort, blocks to wire. Hell yeah, I want to see it.
Hi Mike, big fan! I was listening to Sirius Xm this weekend and on the Mad Dog show they were just ripping you, saying you were a big reason why sports journalism is in the crapper today. They said you were so buddy buddy with all these players in the NBA, that you are incapable of being objective. Is their some feud going on or something?
Mike Wilbon (2:00 PM)
What is the Mad Dog show and why would I give a sh&% what some clown with one-tenth the career I am having has to say about me? I'm not objective and my job isn;t to BE objective and if they weren't nit-wits they know that. The moment I became a columnist, back in 1990, my job became to have an opinion, a well-informed opinion, but an opinion nonetheless. So many people with voices today are smart enough to know what the role of a reporter is, what the role of a columnist is, and how that all goes out the windown when I leave the newspaper business and go into the TV business, which is partnered with a league. let's see if the people on said show are smart enough to reveal what they don't know...
Have you read any of Whitlock's articles about Gabby Douglas or Serena? Is there anything Whitlock DOESN'T find controversial?
Mike Wilbon (2:02 PM)
Whitlock just talks about what he feels, and it's refreshing. He doesn't think of it as "controversial" though you might. He thinks of it as something that needs to be talked about. I love Jason, he's my friend, and I think he's got a pair on him. We disagree with each other at times, agree with each other more, and don't let agreement or disagreement get in the way of a good discussion...I love that he's here at the Olympics. I'm okay with Serena's dance, but I gotta talk to my man about his objections.
You sure this is your last Olympics Wilbon? I have been to Rio before, it is amazing. 2016 is going to be a blast.
Mike Wilbon (2:05 PM)
yeah, I think so. The sports year is so long now, so packed with a ton of things...I've got a 4-year-old son I'm determined to see grow up...I want to attend his games, should he play in any...I've run around the world for 30-plus years and have enjoyed all the countries/cities the Olympics have been in...Maybe I'll take Matthew to Brazil and buy some tickets (if the IOC has that straightened out by then)...But this is it for me...Btw the NBA, MLB, the NFL, college football and hoops, golf and tennis...the big squeeze is on and something's gotta go...
JP (Columbus, OH)
Mike - your brief thoughts on Serena's celebratory "Crip-Walk"?
Mike Wilbon (2:06 PM)
I don't think it's a big deal...That's my immediate thought. And in different cities these dances are called different things. Suppose it's a Booty-walk in New York; would that make it okay?
Mike Wilbon (2:07 PM)
If Chandler, who I love, could hang with David Robinson, no, you're not watching what I'm watching. Chandler fouled out in 8 mins against Spain in an exhibition. Dude, David Robinson scored 70 in an NBA game. What are you talking about? Seriously. Stop wishing, and watch...
Carl Lewis vs Usain Bolt in a race for all the marbles...who ya got Wilbon?
Mike Wilbon (2:08 PM)
God, I can't believe I'm about to say this, but Bolt. Bolt's the greatest thing I've ever seen. I guess Carl's 9.92 would these days be a 9.75 or something. But Bolt can go 9.5. He can. He's a freak...And I'm one of those people who thinks Carl Lewis is the greatest Olympian ever...or on the short list with Phelps and a few others...
If Bolt is still in solid form in 4 years, and has a shot at a third straight 100 meter gold, do you think that would entice you enough to go to Rio? It could be the greatest athletic feat of our lifetime!
Mike Wilbon (2:09 PM)
yeah, I'd better go because if what you guys are telling me is true I wouldn't be able to see it on live TV in America! Ha. Snuck one in! Okay, I could fly to Montreal with Matthew, go to a pub and see it, right?
Once the games are over, what are you most looking forward to once you come back to the states? Baseball, football training camp, other?
Mike Wilbon (2:11 PM)
White Sox and Bears...That's where my head is. Is my man Urlacher okay? That's what I'm obsessed over these days, Urlacher's knee. I think the Bears are loaded, but I'm not going to get carried away like somebody did in Bears camp. Who was that who uttered the words "Super" and "Bowl?" Don't do that, Holmes. Too much pressure. I want to see how Chicago reacts if the White Sox were to get to another World Series...Goodness, two for the White So (hey, it's possible) and none for my Cubbies...I want to see how that plays out...Sorry people, I'm a Cubs fan but no way I'm rooting AGAINST a team with "CHICAGO" on its jersey cause some folks have some agenda I don't share...
Mike Wilbon (2:13 PM)
Okay, I said 45 minutes and here it is 75...I gotta go...PTI time and then some late-night dinner somewhere in London...Next time we chat will be the day after the Olympics end...I arrive in D.C.. next Monday at like 11 a.m. and will need something to keep me away, so why not chat? If you guys are up for it...Thanks to our hosts in Great Britain, London specifically, the Hyatt Andaz even more specifically for me. I like it here...I need to come back to London more. See ya Monday, thanks for chatting. MW