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!
Buzzmaster (1:07 PM)
Mike will be here at 1:30 p.m. ET to take your questions!
mike wilbon (1:37 PM)
Hi Everybody...plenty to talk about with the NBA playoffs, Floyd Mayweather if anybody is interested, Jason Collins perhaps...we'll jump right in...
Are the Heat really going to march through this series as easily as the ESPN guys seem to think? If Deng and Hinrich come back and play with the same heart they used to break the streak...I really think the Bulls can push this to 7 and then who knows what can happen
mike wilbon (1:41 PM)
It's not a matter of what ESPN guys think. I don't think you'll find anybody who covers/analyzes pro basketball for a living who's going to pick the Bulls to win this series...any more than they would have picked somebody to beat the Bulls in 1992...Miami's the best team, without question, in the NBA and if D-Wade is healthy there's no real reason to pick Miami to lose a series in these playoffs. Having said that, I think it'll be a dogfight of a series. It could be five games, like the 2011 Eastern Conference Finals, where every game was a dogfight but Miami prevailed 4-1...I don't see a sweep, and maybe there will be a blowout in there somewhere but I see the Bulls battling Miami in a way the other teams in the Eastern Conference (knicks and Pacers included) cannot...To me that means tight games, contested games, nasty games full of confrontation and back-and-forth...
Can we shelf the Howard is the best center in the league talk ? Or put a notation next to it: Howard is the most dominant center in the league but if you're building a team you're much better off with Noah or Gasol.
mike wilbon (1:46 PM)
You're preaching to the choir on this one. I vote on the NBA's post-season awards and I wrote the name "Gasol" on my ballot for first-team all-NBA Center. I had Howard second-team and Noah third-team but should have flipped them...And I don't think Howard is the best center in the league and absolutely not "domiant." Dominant means you don't lose, you win...all the time...and he doesn't. He has the best statistics but he doesn't impact the game like Noah does, like Gasol does...I don't know how much or if at all this has to do with Howard recovering from his back surgery last year...maybe we'll see a player closer to his 2009 form next year, with an entire year to heal...But I'm not holding my breath. He's still damn valuable and he can change the game if he's with the right team...
Are people in Chicago mad at Derrick Rose for not playing ?
mike wilbon (1:49 PM)
A lot are, yes. A lot aren't. I don't know that I can put a percentage split on it, but there's increasing disappointment that he's not playing. how about that word: "disappointment." Rose, in 2010, 11 and 12, was as beloved an athlete as I've seen in Chicago other than the Mikes, Jordan and Ditka and Walter Payton...He's been on a short list of the most beloved athletes in the city's history, and I really hope that isn't eroding to the point where its beyond repair. All this could have been avoided, in my opinion, if the Bulls had simply announced in October that Rose was out for the season, barring some miraculous recovery...But they didn't. Leaving the door open just allowed all kinds of criticism, ridicule, skepticism and disapointment to blow in...unnecessarily.
Bigger impact on your opinion of KD: struggles closing houston out, or the finishing move he put on the griz?
mike wilbon (1:59 PM)
Hey, so it took a little bit of time for the Thunder to adjust to playing without R. Westbrook! Of course, it would. The guy dominates the ball, has a dynamic personality, and more energy than just about any player in the league...so needing a few days to figure out what the hell to do is pretty natural to me. Look, Memphis should have won that game yesterday, but Durant seized the opportunity with those two late jump shots...he closed out a team that gave him a chance...Can Durant average 35 and 15 the rest of the way? You would think that's too much to ask but he's a wonder as a player, a marvel. Durant and Noah, behind Steph Curry, are the three stars of the playoffs so far in my opinion...
How far could the Heat go without Lebron but with a healthy wade and the exact same roster ? I think at least conference finals.
mike wilbon (2:05 PM)
I don't believe that at all. You're telling me the Heat without LeBron could beat the Bulls? The Bulls as presently constituted? No, I don't see that at all. LeBron James is the best player in the game, period. And teams' don't win in the playoffs without their best player. Who does that? The Lakers? You can say Golden State but I'm swayed by all the metrics heads who have said all season that Curry, not Lee, is Golden State's best player...Anyway, you'd underestimating LeBron if you think that any team that loses him goes marching right along...not many times does a player lead his team in scoring, rebounding and assists...Magic MIGHT have done it once...Jordan never did it. You couldn't take Jordan or Magic off a team and think they would just go marching on...Not LeBron either. PLUS, Wade is having knee issues and that doesn't bode well either. Are you 100 percent certain Miami, if Wade is hurt, would beat the Bulls in this upcoming series? Just asking.
How many MVPs do you think LeBron can win? I feel like this voter fatigue thing is in the past. People realized the mistake it was to give the award to anyone but Jordan during his heydey. 2010-2011 seems like an exception because everyone was mad at what he had done with The Decision and that pep rally.
mike wilbon (2:13 PM)
Good question! I think two or three more...That would put him at six or seven right? Nobody's done that, other than Barry Bonds, oh Gretzky...maybe Kareem...I think Abdul-Jabbar has six. Thing is, you don't know who else might emerge. I can't see anybody surpassing LeBron the next three or four years. We don't know Rose's future, post-injury. Paul George has taken a big leap but he'd need another to pull even with LeBron and that isn't likely. Carmelo? Possibly. Tony Parker? Dark horse...
The bulls just won a series without their best player. The Heat definitely are talented enough to win the east without Lebron. They (might not) be favored, but they would at least be in the conversation with Wade, Bosh, and ray allen leading the way.
mike wilbon (2:16 PM)
The Bulls, as impressive as their effor and performance were, beat a team in need of a personality transplant, a team with a bunch of really good players (Lopez, Williams, Johnson) who play with so little fire...it's on simmer all the time with that team. The Bulls, as long as they have Noah and Nate, HAVE fire and plenty of it and I don't believe for one second they'd lose to Miami without LeBron...Miami wouldn't be getting a flat-lining team in need of a personality transplant...not even close.
Ant (NBA Land)
I dont know how the Thunder won that game yesterday, but a big reason was because the Grizzlies could not come up with a descent shot towards the end. Do you see this as a factor against another team, if they do slip pass OKC?
mike wilbon (2:19 PM)
Good question...Well, this is the reason I was critical of the Rudy Gay trade, because I thought in the playoffs Memphis would have trouble late in games finding offense if teams decided to load up on Gasol and Z-Bo...So far, I've been wrong. But you're absolutely right about Memphis being unable to get good shots late in that game. And it cost them because they couldn't stop Durant from getting two good shots in those final seconds...I think if Memhpis wins Game 2 they'll win that series because I think the loss of Westbrook is too much to overcome...Again, I just think its too hard to win in the NBA playoffs when you're missing a player as good as Westbrook. If they had Harden, that's another story, but they don't.
jason (san jose, ca)
Can the Warriors shock the spurs if Curry keeps playing the way he is and they get a semi-healthy D.Lee back?
mike wilbon (2:22 PM)
They're not getting D-Lee back. He said as much the other night when someone asked if he was gonna be back for the Spurs series...I'd love to see Steph Curry keep this up. He's one of my favorite players and has been from the first time I saw him play for Davidson...But can he carry a team past an opponent with three future Hall of Famers, plus a cast of young'uns like K. Leonard? And oh, a Hall of Fame coach in Gregg Popovich. I can't see it. I have a really hard time seeing the Warriors win more than one game in this series and I so hope I'm dead wrong.
The Bulls just won w/o their best player. Granted it was against the average Nets. Pretty sure the Heat would still take the Bulls as currently constructed minus LBJ. They just would.
mike wilbon (2:23 PM)
Why, cuz you say so? Did you have the Bulls winning Game 7 in Brooklyn? No, I didn't think you did.
Does Tom Thibodeau with his coaching style have the ability to coach a superstar player with a big ego?
mike wilbon (2:44 PM)
Oh Goodness, yes. There's no great player in the NBA without ego. I don't believe there's a great player in any sport without ego...In the NFL players have to surpress their egos more because THEY GET CUT, because their money isn't guaranteed. Still, part of being a great athlete is having an ego...It's as necessary as quickness or toughness or great hands...Okay, if you're talking about egomaniacs that's another story...but I think Thibs can deal with anybody...
With Westbrook out, how do you like the Grizzlies chances of making it to the finals, and maybe winning it all? Would the grizzlies front court cause match up problems for the Heat, assuming they make it to the finals??
mike wilbon (2:46 PM)
I like the Grizzlies chances of beating OKC with Westbrook down and but I like the Spurs over the Grizzlies this season...So, I'm looking at Spurs-Heat in the NBA finals. I know Memphis knocked off San Antonio in the 2011 playoffs but the Spurs are a better team now. K. Leonard would be a matchup nightmare for Memphis...I think that's the series we're going to see in the conference finals now...
Are you on board with the idea that the Westbrook injury actually hurt the Heat's title chances a little? Seems like they would much prefer a Finals rematch with OKC than a potential matchup with Memphis or San Antonio.
mike wilbon (2:53 PM)
Wow...hadn't thought of that...I did expect a Miami-OKC Finals before Westbrook got hurt...I'm thinking, I'm pondering...I don't know...I see the point, that the Spurs have MORE players and can hurt you in more ways than OKC. And the Spurs/Grizz are much more likely to pound the ball down low and just try to hammer the Heat who have Birdman and not much more in terms of size and strength inside...Hmmm...interesting point to make...We know the Heat would prefer a rematch with OKC now without RW but I seriously doubt that will be happening...
shagourney (houston, tx)
what is the importance or overall effect of jason collins coming out party? In my opinion this changes nothing because he is not a star or anything close to that. The issue will not hit home until a fans favorite superstar player comes out. what do you think?
mike wilbon (2:58 PM)
Interesting point...though I think the issue people are focusing on is the locker room, the fraternity of players in that sport...I think the NBA was the best-possible place for this to happen, in terms of tolerance...for the first openly gay player to announce his sexuality. I hope in very little time this is not a big deal, but it is now...And I get your point that it would be a much bigger deal if we were talking about a star player...and we may be in the near future now that Jason Collins has had the courage to do this...But for people who say, well why is this a big deal (I know you're not saying this, but for other who are) I'd simply say "if it's NOT a big deal then why has there been no player to be open about his homosexuality in the history of professional men's sports? You think there aren't any? of course there are, but they've been afraid of the repurcussions, in locker rooms even moreso (my guess) than int he stands. It is indeed important...Again, I hope in short time it becomes no big deal at all.
Kyle Smith (Texas)
Do you think that the Pacers are the sleeper in the East? Seems like they might get by the Knicks in 6. In your opinion do the Pacers have a real shot of beating the Heat in a series?
mike wilbon (3:13 PM)
I think the Pacers can beat the Knicks, yes (though I'm still picking the Knicks) but I do not see the Pacers beating Miami, even though the Pacers have some of the same advatnages (size) over Miami that they have over the Knicks...I need to see a bigger sample size of Indy dominating...I need to see a little more, like Game 2...
mike wilbon (3:16 PM)
Okay, gotta run and prepare for PTI...thanks for chatting everybody...Have a great week...Back to the playoffs!!!! MW