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 (1:23 PM)
Hi Everybody...The Masters, last week of the NBA regular season, and of course Kobe Bryant...We've got a ton to talk about so here we go...
Jake (Denver, CO)
To amnesty or not to amnesty: Kobe is the question. If there was a record for most games played through severe pain, I think Kobe might have it. After 18 seasons in the league, this is a career ender for most players, though. What do you do, Wilbon?
Mike Wilbon (1:27 PM)
There are so many layers to this Kobe Bryant story. And yes, the first one, because it involves a price tag of $80 million, give or take a few hundred thousand dollars, is whether the Lakers should use their amnesty exception on Kobe Bryant next season. He'd, of course, get his $30 million BUT would be ineligible to play for the Lakers next season...consider it a red-shirt year...Kobe is a legendary healer, but every player I've talked to has told me a November or even December return is impossible. This injury has deep-sixed careers. Isiah Thomas and Dominique Wilkins, just to name two Hall of Famers...But I think the Lakers HAVE to do it, right? $80 million? Even the Yankees and Dodgers have to feel $80 million in the short-term, right? Plus, it would allow the Lakers to sign multiple star free agents and Phil Jackson if they want...So hard to get around it...
So I thought the Nationals were supposed to destroy the whole NL East?
Mike Wilbon (1:29 PM)
You mean the '27 Yankees? Look, the Nationals are a REALLY appealing team, and they look like a serious, serious contender, maybe even the favorite...BUT, this notion that the Nationals, a club with ZERO pedigree, were going through the National League like Tiger Woods through the PGA in 2000 is just insane. It ain't that easy. They might very well win; but watching everybody pick them like it was a forgone conclusion seemed absurd to me at the time. I don't think getting popped by the Braves is any big deal, except it shows the Nationals aren't superior to everybody in baseball as almost everybody, including those in the clubhouse, seemed to think when the season began.
Do you think this young Rockets team has a chance against a hobbled Nuggets squad if we can hold the 6th seed? Also, if you were GM who would you chase first and hardest this offseason, Chris Paul or Dwight Howard? I think I'd rather see Paul come to Houston and replace Lin as it would upgrade the team more than Howard replacing Asik. What say you?
Mike Wilbon (1:33 PM)
Okay, let's take the playoff question first. Ty Lawson played last night and I'd bet big money Kenneth Faried will be okay by the time the series begins Saturday or Sunday. Faried will have had an entire week of rest and rehab then, and the x-rays were negative...I don't see Houston beating Denver...might be a really good series but the Nuggets have so many people...As for the future, Howard seems a better fit in Houston in many ways (at least to me) than the Lakers. I just don't think Howard's personality suits being THE player in Los Angeles where the pressure to win as a leader of the Lakers is almost unbearable. I think Howard WILL re-sign with the Lakers, but I don't know how it will work...Put him there on Harden's team, with Lin and shooters like Parsons and I think Houston might jump up to be in position to challenge OKC and Denver in a year or two...
Hi Mike, Do you think a healthy Bulls team (not including D-Rose) could give the Heat all they could eat in a 7 game series?
Mike Wilbon (1:35 PM)
It would be competitive to a degree. The Bulls could get a game, maybe two, but I wouldn't see more than that. Remember, the Bulls only got one game off of Miami WITH D-Rose in the lineup two years ago in the conference finals, and Miami's a lot better now...the Bulls, not so much. The Bulls are so offensively-challenged they just would run out of ways to score against Miami...Having said all that, to me there are only two teams right now that could even get two games off of Miami in an eastern conference playoff series: the Knicks and Bulls. That's it. Boston? Too old, too beat up...Okay, maybe the Celtics could get two games. Maybe...
Rob (San Antonio)
Kobe is one of the toughest competitors in any sport and I would be shocked if he quit at this point. As someone who knows him and after talking to experts and other players what are your thoughts? I will preface my question with the fact that I would hate to see his career ends this way.
Mike Wilbon (1:37 PM)
There's unanimity that Kobe will play again...The question is at what level? Nobody comes back to be dominant after this injury, not in pro basketball. People started mentioning players like Tiny Archibald, Isiah Thomas...Is Kobe going to want to come back as a 14-point a guy player trying to fit in with the Lakers? Maybe he'll choose to not come back. I just hate that we could have seen the last of Kobe, period. And of course I fear that last week was the last of Kobe Bryant as we've known him, carrying a team on his back...It was a blast to watch. And he seems to conquer pain more than any basketball player I've seen since Michael Jordan. But...what's fair and reasonable to expect?
Keenan (Atlanta, GA)
How much do you think the 2 stroke penalty on Tiger impacted the overall outcome of the tournament? Do you think Tiger would have played loser, better, if he'd not been penalized before the round? And that his opponents may felt more pressure, been tighter, if he was only 2 strokes behind, and not scored as well, with Woods potentially breathing down their necks? Or is it mute, just an excuse, some are usiing for Tiger, that was not a determining factor at all?
Mike Wilbon (1:40 PM)
It's not the 2-stroke penalty I'm obsessed with...it's what caused the 2-stroke penalty: a ball hit with such precision it hits the flag and bounces off into the water. Let's just say the ball misses the flag and Tiger birdies the hole? We're talking four strokes here...and YES Tiger would have played the rest of the tournament with a different mental approach and emotional makeup...It made me sick, seeing that ball hit the stick and roll into the drink. Changed The Masters, without question. Four strokes...I do think, however, that Tiger ought to be encouraged, even though he lost the chance at a major championship...There are 3 left and he's playing better than anybody int he world again. Would you take Adam Scott or Tiger in the U.S. Open?
Seriously, what did George Karl ever do to the Basketball Gods? The most fun team to watch on fire heading towards the playoffs, then lawson, gallo and now faried.... Ugh.
Mike Wilbon (1:42 PM)
I know...I was thinking Denver should just forfeit the final couple of games...Does seem like Faried is going to be okay, though the Galinari injury hurts them. It's not a killer, but it hurts. I think Wilson Chandler and this new kid, Fornier from France, can make enough floor-stretching shots to let everybody else do their thing...But I just hope with a week or rest that Faried can be his Manimal self, or Denver could be vulnerable in the vert first round...Injuries are ruining the NBA playoffs...second straight year now...
Caleb VanZee (Fowler, MI)
So we all knew that Burke was going to go pro, but do you think anyone else will go? GRIII and Mitch McGary are pretty high on Chad Ford's big board...
Mike Wilbon (1:44 PM)
GR3 has a real chance, to me, to become a great player. We know money ain't an issue for him, being the son of a long-time NBA player...Depends on how desperately the kid wants to be great. He could clearly use another year at Michigan...clearly. McGary is the most overstated player in the last 5-10 years. He's a talent, not a player. He ain't ready for anybody's NBA...There's not one thing he could go into the league and hang his hat on, as they say, right now. He has to learn how to play...or he'll just get lost in a league where there are plenty of kids who have talent but don't know how to play and just drown over time...
Bryan (Springdale, AR)
Adam Scott may be a feel good story to some, but what feels good to me is when the best player is on top, and that is Tiger Woods. Just feels like a letdown that the greatest player in golf could not make it happen.
Mike Wilbon (1:46 PM)
I won't disagree with that...But Tiger couldn't make it happen because a ball hit the flagstick flush. You know how the rest of us TRY to do that. I've never had a hole-in-one, but have hit the flag stick six or seven times in my golf life...I"m unbelievably angry every time and I am playing for NOTHING that matters. I can't even imagine, at The Masters, watching that happen to a shot...As it approaching he's thinking birdie, at worst, and to wind up with that result...Unreal...
I know this may be a bit sacrilegious, but it's well known (at least by those paying attention) that kobe was atrocious on the defensive end this year. Is it possible that the lakers may improve so much on the defensive end without him to make up for his incredible offense?
Mike Wilbon (1:48 PM)
No. Ummmm, no. Let me put that another way. Hell no. I know Kobe wasn't good on the defensive end, but he's not the only reason the Lakers routinely give up 65-70 points in a half, 35-point quarters...Don't pin that all on Kobe. The Lakers, as a team, are atrocious defensively...And there ain't enough offensive in the world in that clubhouse to make up for what Kobe can do...And we're talking more than volume..."when" matters more than "how much."
There are a lot of people that don't want Tiger to win too. I'm not a fan. His demeanor, language and obviously the personal stuff. I recognize his immense talent and ability but doesn't mean we all need to root for him. I was riveted yesterday watching these other guys go at it. I don't get the whole "if Tiger doesn't win I'm not interested" nonsense.
Mike Wilbon (1:51 PM)
You're perfectly entitled to not like Tiger...Fine. But there are more of "us" than "you" which we know because of TV ratings, shoes and shirts sold, etc, etc. That's not arguable. Just to look at the other side of it, I watch plenty of golf where Tiger isn't involved...like the LPGA, Champions Tour, events on the PGA Tour he doesn't play...I like to watch golf, period. BUT, yesterday, I had two flights from L.A. One well after the tournament would have ended and one while the tournament was still being played. When Tiger got in at -5 I bailed...I knew I could see the highlights of the others and it would be enough...especially under the hit-the-flagstick conditions. So I left...got play-by-play from my boy Neville while sitting on the ground on a U.S. Air flight, then watched the whole sequence when I got to Arizona...enough for me. Had Tiger been involved that last hour, no way I'd have gotten on that flight. Two different views, Bro...
Deven (New York, NY)
What are your thoughts about Coach Collins, resigning after the season?
Mike Wilbon (1:55 PM)
I hope he's in Evanston soon, helping his son Chris in whatever way the new head coach at Northwestern wants...or whatever way the university might use one of the greatest minds in the history of basketball, which is what Doug Collins is. He's the best broadcast analyst ever, the John Madden of pro basketball...Now, that's my point of view as a Northwestern alum, just having hired his son...But no way was Doug going to endure a startup program, which is what Philly is with the Andrew Bynum deal having blown up in the club's face. They gave up Vucevic, who's third or fourth in the league in rebounding, Andre I. who was the team's best player and a first-round pick...for a guy who has ALWAYS been hurt, whose teammates (in L.A.) have always been suspect of him...It's a disaster, the Bynum deal, and there's no reason for Doug Collins to invest four, five more years in that instead of enjoying/helping his son in the other town (Chicago) that Doug Collins calls home.
Deven (New York, NY)
What are some things you like and don't like about the playoffs as a casual fan, Michael?
Mike Wilbon (1:55 PM)
Do I strike you as a casual fan of basketball?
Mike Wilbon (1:57 PM)
I don't like the injuries. I hate them. Last year it was Derrick Rose. This year, it's Kobe and Galinari and others...I hate that. Philosophically, I would rather the first round be best 3-out-of-5...Everything else I'm pretty good with...I love the playoffs. Just like I love March Madness, love the NFL playoffs which now consume the entire month of January...love October...
Mike, You strike me more as as "casual fan" of Cricket.
mike wilbon (2:15 PM)
Ha! Actually, I've never seen cricket in person and have wanted to...I want to see everything...but I haven't. Since I'm going to England this summer I should find out if and where I could...
Devin Brooks (Detroit (the ghetto side))
Hey Mike, Question for you. If you are Minn would you trade Kevin Love and your first round pick for Greg Monroe and Stuckey? remember Kevin Love want out..
Buzzmaster (2:21 PM)
Hey folks, Mike had some technical issues and now has to run to get ready for PTI. Thanks for chatting today and check back next week to chat with Mike again!