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 (1:20 PM)
HI Everybody...the dog days of February are about over, which is great! Spring training, March Madness, NBA playoff races...all on deck...we'll jump right into it...and maybe some Academy Award reactions, too...(the host did nothing at all for me, but I'm just sayin')
Bryan (Springdale, AR)
Kobe and Dirk trading blows yesterday was something....have you seen a game like that before, between two teams out of the playoffs that felt like they were playing for a something extremely meaningful?
mike wilbon (1:23 PM)
Um, yes, I've seen it before...There's little in watching the NBA closely for 30 years I haven't seen in some variation. I don't know that it was rare, but it sure as hell was entertaining, especially when you throw in all the Mark Cuban-Kobe stuff that served as a pretty good sidebar. Look, the pressure the Lakers are under to make the playoffs is going to create on-court drama night-after-night the rest of the way. Yesterday it was in Dallas against Dirk and a less-than-mediocre team...Tonight it's in Denver against a really good opponent I do NOT expect the Lakers to beat. But the way Kobe's going now, and with improvement from Nash and Howard...maybe...
Ron Henton (Terre Haute IN)
I don't understand why ppl think the bulls have a shot to beat miami with derrick rose. The Heat have improved more in the last two years as a team than the Bulls have and Lebron James has gotten better while DRose has regressed due to injury. Barring an injury, do you think the Bulls have a chance with just DRose in the next few years or did his brother Reggie have a point (although it was ill-advised)?
mike wilbon (1:27 PM)
The Bulls have no shot to beat Miami this year, not with Derrick Rose either. It's a nice romantic notion, that the rivalry picks up where it left off two years ago, but it's flawed. Miami's a champion now, a healthy champ on a roll with one of the greatest players in history having found a groove that might be as great as any he's been in. The Bulls can't score. They've scored an average of only 70 points in losses to Miami, Boston and OKC. Rose can't change that days off major reconstructive knee surgery. It's taken D.Wade more than half a season to get to the point where he can do all the things on his knees he used to do, and he didn't have nearly the injury Rose did! It's gonna take Rose months, not weeks, to find his form and we don't even know what that form will be.
Mr. Wilbon, please tell me who wins the Atlantic Division. And keep in mind the following: over their past 32 games, the Nets are 20-12 while the Knicks are 15-17 (including having lost 5 of 7 to far inferior opponents, ex-Indy, who destroyed them). From this day forward the Knicks have the toughest remaining schedule, while the Nets have a much easier one. Knicks haven't beaten a playoff team on the road since DECEMBER 11th, and of their remaining 29 games, 17 of them are on the road, including 12 of which are against current playoff teams. Seeing all of that, aren't the Nets in good position to overtake the November title winners from MSG?
mike wilbon (1:30 PM)
If you go back to either these chats or PTI or anywhere I run my mouth you'll see I picked the Nets and Sixers to be as good if not better than the Knicks...I KNOW I had the Nets being better than the Kincks. (Bynum deep-sixed the Sixers long ago)...This isn't a surprise that the Nets are about to catch the Knicks. I think the Nets have a better team, certainly a younger team, one with more balance...I don't think the Nets are a threat to the Heat and I don't even think Brooklyn can beat the Pacers, but they should win the Atlantic and force the Knicks down a peg in the Eastern Conference standings.
Robert Blythe (Kittanning, PA)
Houston plays the Lakers the final day of the regular season. Kobe Bryant and James Harden aside, which roster looks better to you?
mike wilbon (1:32 PM)
Well, if we're going by the look-at-the-roster test the Lakers look better than just about anybody, right? They've got three Hall of Famers, for sure with Kobe, Nash and Howard...Oh hell, make that four with Gasol (remember, international contributions count and Gasol is the best player on a Spanish team that has won major stuff)...Having said that, I like the move Houston just made to acquire Thomas Robinson from Sacramento, and put him in a lineup with Harden and Lin, Chaandler Parsons and Omer Asik...That's a nice lineup...But they're only 3 ahead of the Lakers with 20-some to play so it should be a dog-fight.
Can the Spurs win it all this year?
mike wilbon (1:35 PM)
Hell yes. The Spurs are every bit as good as Miami right now and, to me, a little bit ahead of OKC...The Spurs are better than they were last year. Stephen Jackson and Boris Diaw have had an entire season with the team. Tiago Splitter and and the three-point bomber from North Carolina (I'm having a senior moment) are sooooo much better than a year ago. And K. Leonard is a young beast, a complete player who is going to cause matchup nightmares in the playoffs. PLUS, Tim Duncan is healthier, Tony Parker is absolutely in his prime...Manu Ginobili is a little off form, but he should be rested because Pop makes damn sure his guys aren't overly taxed going into the playoffs. I think the subtraction of Harden from OKC, plus all the other developments I mentioned with the Spurs will make San Antonio a smidge better than the Thunder this year. Plus--and I've been around the Spurs a little bit recently--they seem on some kind of mission since losing to OKC last year. There's a determination about them I like...
Lakers sneak into the playoffs and get swept in the first round? Is that enough to convince DH to stay?
mike wilbon (1:36 PM)
Wouldn't Lakers-Spurs be the best first-round matchup in the modern history of the NBA? It would be the most hyped. God, what basketball fan wouldn't love to see that series?
Alan (South Florida) [via mobile]
Mike, I am a huge basketball and appreciate/enjoy the new stats that Hollinger and others have created. However, I worry they take away from my enjoyment of the game itself as I spend too much time breaking down numbers to judge play. As an analyst do you ever have the same struggles?
mike wilbon (1:38 PM)
No. I watch the games, talk to players, coaches, executives...and I tend to ask coaches specifically (as well as veteran players like Ray Allen and Kobe Bryant) what stats they buy into. NO, I don't have that problem, not even a little bit.
Why do these billionaires purchase NBA teams only to slash payroll (looking at you, MEMPHIS)
mike wilbon (1:39 PM)
Because the luxury taxes are so punitive...But I hear your point. Why do these NFL teams sign guys to huge contracts only to cut them two years in? Same deal right? What, they didn't know what they were getting into?
Do you agree that Dwight Howard is the "future" of the Lakers? I just don't see it?
mike wilbon (1:41 PM)
My crystal ball doesn't see that either. Dwight Howard, to me, doesn't have the demeanor, the makeup to be the centerpiece of a successful Lakers team. There's more pressure on the Lakers to win than any basketball team in the NBA, including the Celtics, who simply aren't the No. 1 sporting obsession in New England the way the Lakers are in Southern California. I just don't see Howard having the personality to carry a team in that environment...
Spike1473 (Jacksonville, FL)
With the way he's playing right now, how do you stop Lebron?
mike wilbon (1:43 PM)
You don't. You can't. It's like "stopping" Shaq 12 years ago or "stopping" Kobe in 2009 or "stopping" Jordan or Magic or Bird of Moses Malone or Kareem in their primes. You don;t. Can't stop Kevin Durant either...You have to lock down the guys around them, and there's only a handful of teams (Spurs, OKC, maybe the Pacers) who have the players this season, right now, to do that.
Does anyone know where LeBron is going to go next? Has there ever been a superstar where the entire second half of his career is going to be filled with speculation about what city he ends up in next (other than Shaq)?
mike wilbon (1:45 PM)
or Dwight Howard? No, nobody knows including LeBron where he's going to end up next. I would imagine if he wants to end up back in Cleveland Dan Gilbert will be smart enough to get the deal done, but that may be presuming too much about Gilbert. And if LeBron actually opts out to become a free agent, will Jim Buss demonstrate he's anything like his father and go after LeBron, and go after him hard. I don't think Jim Buss has any of what made his dad perhaps the greatest owner in sports...so maybe it'll be Cleveland after all...
i watch pti every day and i,m stil l a fan of yours.who will your 5 good minutes guest be?
mike wilbon (1:46 PM)
If you watch every day (does anybody do anything every day?) you'll know that we hard EVER have 5 good minutes guests on Monday...Too much to cover. Never, do we have one during NFL season because we're coming off Sunday games. Maybe once or twice during basketball post-season we do it...but today? Nope. Just Tony and me so you'll have to grind!!!
Which one of these Lakers is gone this summer and where to?: (a) Dwight Howard in FA, (b) Pau Gasol in a trade, (c) Kobe Bryant in a ludicrous amnesty decision (hopefully driving him to the open SG position in Chicago), or (d) D'Antoni? I didn't include Nash or the player formerly known as Artest because they don't seem to be as talked about.
mike wilbon (1:47 PM)
Kobe Bryant ain't going anywhere. All the rest of open for speculation, which will range from fun to the absurd...But Kobe? I can't see him being anywhere else next season.
Phil (SF, Ca)
Are the Warriors good enough to win a playoff series? They have beaten some of the best teams in the NBA but can be inconsistent from night to night...
mike wilbon (1:49 PM)
Good question. Let's see, the Warriors, if they finish 6th, will probably get the Clippers and wouldn't that be fun. The Clippers would win, but it would be a fun watch. If the Warriors finish 5th, they'd like get Denver, and boy would that be fun...The Nuggets would win, but it would be a fun watch. I like and root for the Warriors, as I've said a few times in this space. But it takes time to build. I don't see them winning a playoff series this season. They just need to get in and get to the second phase of building: learning how to play in the postseason!
How come nobody goes after Lebron physically like they used to do to MJ? Would be curious to see how he plays if he knows he'll get hammered when he drives.
mike wilbon (1:55 PM)
The game has changed, the rules have changed, the nature of the players has changed, the style of basketball has dramatically changed. Last week when LeBron was shooting 70 percent or whatever impossible number he reached, it was point out to me by a current old vet than LeBron wasn't being met at the rim by the likes of Bill Laimbeer and Budda Edwards and John Salley, or Patrick Ewing or Shawn Kemp...or going back further Jeff Ruland or Robert Parish or kevin McHale, God knows, Nate Thurmond or Wes Unseld...There's not even any Manute Bol or Tree Rollins types...The game has evolved away from that. No resistance in the paint or at the rim. None. It's one of the reasons Michael Jordan shooting 50 percent of better for 5 straight seasons is so amazing in retrospect. LeBron is about to go over that for his 5th straight season, too, but it's a lot easier in this basketball environment. The notion that LeBron might get knocked on his butt is non-existent.
mike wilbon (1:56 PM)
...Hell, I forget to mention the likes of Mark Eaton and Karl Malone...Big Gheorghe Muresan...There were tons of guys who used to be paid to flex around the rim...not anymore.
Brandon (Phoenix, AZ)
We need to re-think the way of stopping The Heat. Quit thinking in the sense of stopping Lebron as that is not going to happen. You need to limit Wade, Bosh and Co. Lebron is going to get his 30pts and Rebounds, what you need to do is stop from getting his teammates active and involved. Almost like stopping Nash in his prime. You wanted him to score.
mike wilbon (1:57 PM)
Yep, pretty much...except when Wade is shooting 50 percent and playing like he has been in 4h quarters that probably won't work either. In 2006 when Miami won I thought Wade was the best player in the league that season. Now, its 7 years later and he's north of 30 now...but he can still do it this season and next. I think San Antonio is the only team that has enough to counter what Miami is doing.
Why did everyone make a big deal of cuban's remarks about kobe and amnesty?
mike wilbon (1:58 PM)
Because people having nothing better to do. It ain't a big deal...but there's got to be something to discuss on talk radio on Twitter. I'll be saying later on PTI its a total non-story.
Mike - do you buy into the Pacer's being a legitimate threat to the Heat in the playoffs? I like Indy's squad, they play tough defense, but didn't the Heat just beat them 4-2 last year - without Bosh!
mike wilbon (2:01 PM)
Yeah, but Paul George is better now. If I was handing in my All-NBA ballot today, let's see...LeBron and Durant, Kobe...I could put Paul George in that other slot because Chris Paul has missed some games. Maybe CP3 and George fill out my all-NBA team. I'd put him ahead of Carmelo if the Pacers finish ahead of the Knicks, which I think they will. Nobody on Denver ahead of Paul, nobody on Golden State...Tony Parker deserves serious consideration, for sure...Nobody on the Bulls or Nets...George is a better player, a borderline star...he takes over games now. Granger could give them depth off the bench...I think Indiana is the other conference finalist...They won't beat Miami, but could really challenge them.
If you (ahem Lebron) had the chance to play with Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters for the next 8 years for the last few years of your prime up until the twilight of your career, you'd (Lebron) would have to at least consider it, right? past decisions aside obviously.
mike wilbon (2:03 PM)
Ah, yes. Absolutely.
Josh (Richmond Va)
Do you think Dan Gilbert could ever get over himself and welcome back Lebron in a couple of years?
mike wilbon (2:03 PM)
That's the part I don't know. He could think more of himself than any owner in the league...which is saying something. The smugness is unreal.
Is it time to put dwayne wade and lebron james as the best duo ever?
mike wilbon (2:06 PM)
Have you watched basketball for only the last three years. You ever heard of Magic and Kareem? Go to YouTube and look at them. Jordan and Pippen? Oscar and Alcindor? West and Chamberlain? West and Baylor. Seriously, you clearly don't know anything about them so go find some footage. Bird and McHale? Bird and Parish? Monroe and Frazier? We're talking champions here. Most of them one more than one. Russell and Jones? Go do some homework.
Adam (Arizona )
Hi Wilbon, Are you okay with the new NHL realignment plan with Winnipeg moving West and Columbus + Detroit moving east?
mike wilbon (2:07 PM)
I do NOT like it because it would break up the Red Wings-Blackhawks rivalry which is one of the league's best, maybe the best one in the Western Conference. I understand the need to realign and also get costs under control...BUT whatever you do with Detroit the NHL needs to do with Chicago. No?
MW,Is it time to consider Gtown as a legit threat to be a 1-seed for the tourney?
mike wilbon (2:10 PM)
Maybe...Great question. Georgetown has another game with Syracuse coming up...they're No. 7 in most rankings right now. This kid Otto Porter is a beast. I was talking with my producer, Matt Kelliher, yesterday and he thinks its possible Porter could be the best Hoya since Allen Iverson! I challenged him and said what about Rodney Monroe, and what about Roy Hibbert and what about Jeff Green and he said it really could be Porter..I asked some other Georgetown alums this morning and they said the same thing, which wowed me. I gotta watch Georgetown a little more closely the next two weeks. I just think most of the top 25 teams are going to lose again before the tournament begins...I mean, like, 20 of them, I think the conference tournaments are going to be a bear and take a toll on the top-ranked teams. But if Georgetown can go through that with only one more loss, yeah, I'd be up for them as a No. 1 ...But that's asking a lot.
Brent (St. Paul)
Your final 4 teams are.........
mike wilbon (2:12 PM)
Oh, I'm not ABOUT to go there. I'm gonna pick a 3 seed, a 6 seed to make my Final Four...This is like the old days when top seeds are going out early...I believe that...I gotta see brackets Brent...and I want to see the conference tournaments to see who I think is vulnerable...But anybody who writes down Indiana, Kansas, Duke, Georgetown...or something like that, is a fool. You better figure out a sleeper or two over the next two weeks.
Who is the best sidekick ever when it comes to NBA history? I would say either Scottie or McHale
mike wilbon (2:13 PM)
I probably would, too...Pippen has six..McHale has three. What about John Havlicek? What's he got, eight rings I think...Dennis Rodman was a pretty good one, too!
You forgot Stockton and Malone in your list of best duos.
mike wilbon (2:15 PM)
Thank you for that...Yes, even though Stockton and Malone didn't win they ARE up on that list. I know I forgot other ones, too. Sloan and Van Lier. Thomas and Dumars, West and Goodrich, Nash and Stoudmire...
I completely agree with that the NHL shouldn't split up Detroit/Chicago rivalry. I just don't see them sending Nashville east or the never ending rumor Quebec City gets an expansion team.
mike wilbon (2:15 PM)
thanks for that! And Quebec City, to me, should have a team.
"No resistance in the paint or at the rim. None." I get that the rules have changed, but the idea that there is no rim protection anymore is taking things way too far. Noah, Chandler, Howard, Ibaka, Hibbert, Sanders, Asik are all solid rim protectors to name a few.
mike wilbon (2:17 PM)
You really want to compare any of them, beyond Dwight, to the guys I mentioned on my list. Really? You'd better go to YouTube as well. I had Robert Parish on my list. Oh, I forgot Hakeem Olajuwon. David Robinson, Patrick Ewing. You 're giving me Asik and Hibbert and Sanders...Oh, and Jordan played against Kareem for several years...And Dikembe Mutombo. Are you serious (John McEnroe tone)? You can't be serious?
Do you care about the NFL Combine? Watch any of it? I find it boring.
mike wilbon (2:18 PM)
No. I can't watch it. I LOVE listening to Bill Polian. I think he's the smartest football man of our time, maybe on the short list ever. I want to hear him and then I turn it off. I have no interest in it. Too inexact. Too many guys show up as good players as rookies and somebody has to explain why the combine didn't catch them. So I don't get it.
Lebron/Wade aren't even better than Shaq/Kobe.
mike wilbon (2:19 PM)
That's right. Shaq and Kobe won 3 titles. DOMINATED basketball for awhile.
Bryan (Springdale, AR)
Do you consider the NFL making calendar adjustments to the combine and draft a bully-type move to the other sports, or just smart marketing, or both?
mike wilbon (2:20 PM)
Both. Great question. The NFL has the smartest marketing plan/execution of anybody. And the NFL is a bigger bully than anybody. They'll try to force this 18-game schedule down the players' throats, and the NFLPA might sell out, even though the NFL talks out one side of its mouth about player safety.
Jafet Padilla (Puerto rico)
Love the coundown crew...except the celtic dude...but i wanted to ask u what do u think of the Heat vs San antonio matchup in the Finals...what would be the Key part of the series other than POP vs Spo, Tony Vs Bron?
mike wilbon (2:22 PM)
Thank you! Come on now, get off my man Bill Simmons! You must be a Lakers fan! LOL. The matchup intrigue is endless. San Antonio's BIG LINEUP against Miami's rebounding-challenged lineup. Would the Spurs go small? Duncan and shooters with no Splitter? Ginobili vs. Wade? Nobody on the Spurs to guard LeBron. Endless.
Not that probably care, but do you think Steven Jackson should try to 'cash in' one last time and test free agency or stay in the Lou?
mike wilbon (2:23 PM)
Bro, he's had a really nice career but isn't Jackson done as a feature back?
Mr Johnson (Milwaukee)
with you being a huge Bulls fan,, are you excited to see Derrick Rose close to returning
mike wilbon (2:23 PM)
Scared more than excited.
Bryan (Springdale, AR)
Don't forget Dirk and Terry please... 2 Finals trips, 1 Title
mike wilbon (2:23 PM)
Roger Goodell reportedly made around the ballpark of $30 million last season, isn't that a bit ridiculous? What good has he done for the NFL outside of the player conduct policies and advances in concussion testing?
mike wilbon (2:24 PM)
He's done a lot...Seriously, he has. But $30 mil? I don't see it. I don't.
Amare/nash > Lebron/Wade? ....you're reaching there Wilbon....completly reaching!
mike wilbon (2:25 PM)
I was just naming terrific duos, Bro...Nash and Amre were the best and pick-and-roll since Stockton and Malone. And got hosed out of a championship in 2007 when the NBA suspended Amare and Diaw in the playoffs....So maybe it ain't a reach. They should have a championship, one, just like LeBron and Wade at this point.
Do you see the cubs as a potential landing spot for Stanton & Price?
mike wilbon (2:26 PM)
The Cubs seem to me to still be in the development stage, not in the Big Player acquisition stage...
How silly is this 18 game NFL season speculation? They don't care about player safety one iota.
mike wilbon (2:27 PM)
Not beyond avoiding lawsuits...I know, that's cynical. But how do you talk out both sides of your mouth like the NFL does? Unreal.
Nick (Quakertown, PA)
A little Oddsmaker for you. If OKC didn't have James Harden in last year's playoffs, what are the odds the Spurs are last year's champs. He hit so many clutch shots and while the Spurs still had to get through the Heat, some NBA experts were arguing it was the best team basketball they'd ever seen.
mike wilbon (2:28 PM)
I don't believe OKC can beat the Spurs without Harden...I mean THIS YEAR...Now, the Spurs are better this year, but while Kevin Martin is a fine shooter, he's not Harden. Hell, Harden guards big scorers very effectively and I can't see Martin doing that...or creating in the fourth quarter the way Harden did last year vs. Spurs....
Charles (San Jose)
Maybe you should come up with a test chatters have to pass that proves they know anything that happened before 5 years ago.
mike wilbon (2:31 PM)
Ha!!!! I LOVE this suggestion...Okay, as fun as this is, I gotta run...Darn, we didn't talk about Danica Patrick at all. I was hoping she could finish Top 3, and I really admire her for saying, as a rookie she didn't know quite what to do at the top in that final lap or so where she dropped from 3rd to 8th...This is why experience matters...Still, I thought Danica ran a nice race yesterday...Okay, gotta run..BUT, more college basketball discussion next week, please! Thanks for chatting everybody! See you next Monday!
steve (battle creek, mi)
I think mike when you said rim protetors, these young guys dont know what you mean. 2013 rim protection is blocking/altering shots. 1999 rim protection, was i hope he gets up off the ground from them laimbeer, mahorn, rodman elbows. Hell, it used to be a rule in Detroit, only the first foul counts...after that hit him as much as you want!
mike wilbon (2:31 PM)
Thank you for that! Great distinction, and a necessary one, too.
Jerry Rice (Hall of Fame)
I run a 40 yard dash slower than most. Why am I in the Hall of Fame?
mike wilbon (2:32 PM)
That's right, Jerry Rice has your NFL Combine right here!
Man, Blackhawks won again! How long do you see this point-streak going?
mike wilbon (2:32 PM)
At least through tonight when they should beat Edmonton in Chicago...At some point though it becomes a nuisance...I think one or two more games.