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 (1:15 PM)
Good afternoon everybody! Coming live to you from San Antonio...we'll get right to the NBA playoffs but don't be afraid to get into other stuff, though it is a fairly quiet period on the sports calendar...
Nina (Princeton, NJ)
Huge Spurs fan here! I love that you were the only one on the panel that picked the Spurs in 7. Looking smart after Game 1, right? I know Miami and Lebron are great, but how much are they benefiting from playing in a weak Eastern Conference? I mean, the Bucks, Bulls (without 5 starters), and Pacers? May as well have given them a bye to the Finals right? You think they would look this good if they were in the West and had to go through Spurs, Memphis, Clippers, Warriors, etc?
mike wilbon (1:18 PM)
Totally fair question...I think Miami is a great team, no matter where it plays...especially with the emergence of of the young guards, Shane Battier having grown more comfortable playing there, the addition of Ray Allen and Birdman...so I don't want to minimize what Miami did this year, but you make a valid point. The Western Conference is harder, period. This isn't arguable...The Warriors might have been the third best team in the Eastern Conference but finished, what, 6th in the West? It would be a much more difficult road to navigate, yes, but I think Miami would still be in the Finals because they're the best team in the NBA...as long as D-Wade holds up...makes it possible somebody could trip them up if he's severely diminished...
Cam (Rhode Island)
Honestly does anyone have the talent to take the heat to even a 7 game series?
mike wilbon (1:19 PM)
Spurs and Grizz do...I think...that's why you have playoffs, to answer those questions definitively...7-game series usually do that, as opposed to single-game elimination...
Michael, This has been the most boring NBA postseason of my lifetime. Not one marquee matchup and it seems like a foregone conclusion that the heat will win it all. Do you agree?
mike wilbon (1:23 PM)
Didn't people say that about the playoffs at least a couple of times when the Bulls won? Pro basketball isn't the NFL, isn't the NCAA Tournament. It's not about upsets, it's about seeing whether the best teams in basketball can survive multiple 7-game series and prove they're what we think they are...It hasn't been terribly exciting, I'll agree with you there...but I don't find it boring...The Bulls were a good story while they lasted, as was Golden State and Steph Curry...The Memphis games (until yesterday) all are exciting and down to the wire...Injuries have dramatically impacted the post-season, which has a lot to do with your disappointment probably, but we're only halfway through...I'd give it a C+ or B-minus minus right now! LOL
Jason (Ellicott City, MD)
Are you or Simmons a bigger homer when it comes to Boston and Chicago?
mike wilbon (1:28 PM)
I would think we're about even...How could one be a bigger fan of his team than the other? I've been rooting for the Bulls my entire life and he's been rooting for the Celtics his entire life...We're no different than most of the boys/men in the world (and some girls/women too) who follow their teams from the time they're 5 or 6 years old and stay locked in for life...And it's not just those two teams. Bill follows the Red Sox and Bruins with the same loyalty, though I'm not sure where he stands on the Patriots...I'm as loony about the Bears and Cubs and nearly as much so about the Blackhawks...so I think Simmons and I are pretty typical of guys who grow up fans of their teams...
Tony (Richmond, CA)
Does J.R. Smith return to New York next season?
mike wilbon (1:31 PM)
We were just tossing this back and forth yesterday before the Countdown show...Who else will want him that has money and shots to offer? Atlanta? Is there a Western Conference team where he fits? Problem for the Knicks is, they're so overcommitted in terms of salaries...The frontcourt alone (Carmelo, Amare, Chandler) swallows up the salary cap. Can they get better if they commit another $40 million to JR Smith? Is he worth it in the post-season when people earn their salaries? Can a team depend on JR Smith and have a realistic shot of making it to the conference finals, which ought to be the minimum required of the Knicks these days? I don't think so...
Deven (New York, NY)
Do the Spurs ever miss shots? I highly doubt the Grizzlies will allow that to happen again.
mike wilbon (1:33 PM)
Even the Spurs said after yesterday's game they know they won't be that hot again--pros understand that...And Memphis is going to play better...And even though I'm solid with my pick of Spurs in 7, 7 games means the Spurs are going to lose three times and one of those, I think, is tomorrow night here in San Antonio...This is why IT'S A SERIES and not single elimination. All of us overreact to one game...But the Spurs just went up 2-0 last year on OKC and lost, and Memphis lost each of its series openers in these playoffs and still won those series...So I'm reading NOTHING into Game 1...nothing.
Deven (New York, NY)
Jalen, Magic and Bill picked the Grizzlies, while you picked the Spurs. Why?
mike wilbon (1:36 PM)
Because over time it seems proven to me that players have to endure over a period of time (Magic and Bird are the exceptions) to win NBA Championships...They've got to survive difficult losses (Jerry West, Oscar, Jordan, LeBron, Julius Erving, Moses Malone, David Robinson, etc) and battle for years to make it all the way through and I don't think Memphis has done that just yet...I think they've got another step to go, and I think the Spurs, who we KNOW understand that process, are just going to be better collectively on the bigger stage. It has nothing to do with Xs and Os or any of that...I just expect the Spurs, like they did in the last round, to emerge victorious at the end...
Mike how much will D-Wades play affect the outcome of the Heat-Pacers series?
mike wilbon (1:37 PM)
A lot. You heard him say some days he can and some days he can't. I take him at his word. When he can't, Miami is going to be less imposing...But I think with Chris Bosh playing this way, and Battier and Ray Allen and the young kids coming along...I think Miami would win anyway, even with a diminished Wade...but it ain't a certainty with him limping around...If he's healthy there's no question, not in my mind.
Martell (Chicago, South Side)
If you were the Bulls GM, would you trade Loul Deng to gain cap space, and get a high draft pick?
mike wilbon (1:42 PM)
I dont think so...Sometimes a trade drops in your lap and you don't say no BUT, I think given the way the Bulls played this post-season...I think I'd saddle up with this group one more time and hope to keep them healthy...I'd try to keep Marco Belinelli to add to a backcourt of Rose/Hinrich/Jimmy Butler (No way they'll give up on their own draft pick, Marquis Teague)...I'd rather see them keep Nate Robinson but there won't be enough $$$$ or playing time/shots to keep all of them happy...But Deng is critical to that team's success...You're talking about an All-Star under 30 years old, remember...I won't say 100 percent chance no way, but I'd be damn reluctant...
Deven (New York, NY)
Since this is the conference finals, any chance the Grizzlies bounce back and win the series?
mike wilbon (1:43 PM)
Of course, yes. They just bounced back after being down 0-2 to the Clippers and down 0-1 to the Thunder...so why not? San Antonio is a tougher, smarter, more experienced and championship opponent...still, yes, there's a chance...a good chance.
Do the pacers have any chance of upsetting the heat in series if they steal game one?
mike wilbon (1:44 PM)
yeah, a chance. yes...What percentage chance would I put on it? 20 percent maybe...no higher than that, okay, 30 percent...But Miami is still the overwhelming favorite...
Why will no one give the Pacers any credit in the National Media. Everyone is saying that the Knicks lost the series and the Pacers Lost because of bad shooting. They have had the best denfense in the league all year. I'm not saying they will beat the Heat but have a better chance then Memphis and Spurs.. Why?
mike wilbon (1:46 PM)
No everyone is saying that. Maybe you need to expand your reading list. The Pacers are a better team, period, and plenty of people are saying that. There's NEVER and unanimity in the national media, so stop making that up...You, like most sports fans, hear what they want to hear. Hell, there are entire SHOWS built around people in the media NOT AGREEING on anything. I know, I appear on one of them every day...
Do you think the Indiana pacers are interested in Dwight Howard?
mike wilbon (1:47 PM)
Why would they be with the center they have, Roy Hibbert, having advanced further in the playoffs the last few years than Howard? I'm not saying he's as good, but it's not a position by position contest. Trust me, Houston is a lot more interested in D-Howard than Indy...and logically so.
Come on Mike, the Grizz have players who have been through tough games...Tony Allen for the Celtics, Marc Gasol in Spain and Prince in Detroit. The Spurs have a lot of youth that hasn't experienced the same things Duncan, Parker and Ginobli have. Does it really make that much a difference that a few guys did it together rather than taking experience from elsewhere and bring it to the Grizz ?
mike wilbon (1:59 PM)
I hope you're not discounting experience, especially for guys doing ANYTHING together, because that would be insane. Look at your own life and whatever you do. I know that I'm much more certain about being on live television now than I was 10 years ago...and our Countdown shows in the coming weeks will be better, smoother, and executed with more confidence than yesterday's...You think Tayshaun Prince, playing the post-season for the first time in Memphis, is as certain as which way a teammate is going to react as Duncan and Parker and Ginobili? Really? Zebo and Gasol have never been this far in the playoffs...K. Leonard and those young Spurs were this far LAST SEASON. You discount experience if you want. I'll look at the history of the NBA and I'll take the old guys, right up to the Dallas Mavericks two years ago with Dirk and J-Kidd...I really, really like Memphis and what they're building. I LOVE the Spurs in these situations, even after losing last season after a 2-0 lead. Hell, it's BECAUSE of losing that 2-0 lead last year, in part, that I like the Spurs this post-season...
Mike, if Ray Allen and Reggie Miller play H.O.R.S.E., when each were at their prime who wins and why? Is there any psychological advantage either would have over the other?
mike wilbon (2:07 PM)
Ding Ding Ding!!! This is the winning Barber Shop question of the day! Love it...And I have no idea. I have to ask my experts on all things shooting related, Jon Barry and Chris Mullin. I might see Mully tonight since he's here in San Antonio. I'm interested to know what they'd say...I couldn't possibly pick between the two. They're the two greatest shooters of the last 20 years. Deep shooters. Mullin is in that class, too, but didn't go out as far because that's not where the game was in the 1980s and early '90s when Mullin was at his most unstoppable...really good question...we'll have to revisit this one next week...
Your show is based on people disagreeing on the topics you CHOOSE to discuss. Spending three segments discussing whether Mike Woodson mismanaged the game, Carmelo took too many shots, etc. is what we end up discussing because ESPN is the news leader and they write the storylines. Ex: Is it a big deal when any other 3rd string QB is cut from his team? No. But with Tim Tebow it's the leas story. And I'm not buying the "well he won a Heisman and a championship so it's news." Is Championship-winning QB Greg McElroy in the headlines? Is Heisman-winning QB Jason White? No, and neither are multiple others who will go on to have much longer back-up careers than Tebow. ESPN blames the circus around Tebow as the reason he isn't sign, when they are the ones in charge of that circus. Your show is not about disagreement, or covering both sides like you told Tom, it is about setting an agenda, not having the fans "hear what they want to hear" as you say.
mike wilbon (2:12 PM)
Your problem is you think every point you make is original, which suggests a total lack of listening in certain instances. I take shots at my own employer all the time ON THE AIR for the Tebow obsession, so your thought not only isn't original, it is aired on the network your criticizing. I agree with you whole heartedly, which is the bottom line, on Tebow...but to act as if you're brave enough to make the point and nobody else is shows that you don't listen to the disagreements you are presented with on the network...you want to take out after certain shows, fine...not only is it your right but it's good...networks need to be challenged...Hell, all content presenters need to be challenged...but at least know what's being said and the difference between the shows...Story lines on NBA Countdown or SportsCenter aren't the story lines on Around the Horn or PTI or Skip and Stephen A... and if you think all of the people on those last three shows I mention agree on anything, including what topics should be discussed, then you need to turn the TV off because it would strongly suggest you ain't paying attention anyway, which is your right as well...
Chris (Athens, GA)
Hey Mike. Thanks for the great work. What you would do with the Knicks? All the best.
mike wilbon (2:17 PM)
Thanks...Goodness, I don't know. The first thing I'd want to do is start trading away a couple of pieces, but where are the takers? Amare's knees/salary make him virtually impossible to deal. The Knicks owe J-Kidd another season, right, even though he'll be 41 years old...JR Smith wants $50 million, which I wouldn't give him...I wonder. Could they trade Tyson Chandler and get back a guy who can play in the post AND at the free throw line? Sounds like Pau Gasol, but what would the Knicks give up, in addition to Chandler, to get him from the Lakers? And don't say Amare because D'Antoni coaches the Lakers...I just don't know where they start. Carmelo wants to bring the whole group back, or at least that's what he said publicly...but I don't see how this group plays any better or differently than they did the last couple of weeks. This is going to be difficult...and they have NO money for a free agent addition, none...Sorry to be Debbie Downer, but I've been listening to fix proposals for the Knicks for two days here in San Antonio and haven't heard anything that adds up yet.
Hey, Mike, do you ever see Phil Jackson or Jerry Sloan coaching in the NBA again?
mike wilbon (2:18 PM)
It really sounds like Phil wants back in, and I suppose if the Nets want him he might give it a go...Yeah, I suppose I could see both back in for a short stint...Sloan seems like he wants to have one more go at it as well...
Is there any sports moniker out there less menacing than the PELICANS?
mike wilbon (2:18 PM)
Ha! Yeah, I don't much like it either...
Darrell (Jax, FL)
Wade has had a history of pushing himself too the limits. Is there any worry from the Heat that Wade is risking a career ending injury?
mike wilbon (2:20 PM)
Great question. Well, not officially...but at 31 with 10 years of wear and tear, it has to be a concern behind closed doors, especially with LeBron having the option to go someplace else after next season if he thinks he's in need of a healthy wingman...And Wade doesn't know how to play any other way, Bless him. Look how he played when he came out of the locker room last week in that game against the Bulls after having his knee "adjusted." He's still "Flash."
You and I both know that John Wall is getting a max contract, a deal that is very debatable because you are looking at what he did over the course of the second half of the season to project he will be worth the max deal. That said, if he continues to play at that pace, it is hard to argue there are 10 better players. Thoughts?
mike wilbon (2:26 PM)
Oh, it's easy to name 10 better players. Hell, there are probably ten better players in this playoffs right now...Parker, Duncan, Gasol, Randoph, Conley, LeBron, Wade, Bosh, Paul George...Okay, that's 8 off the top of my head...I won't count old Hall of Fame warriors like Ray Allen and Manu Ginobili because Wall is a young player you'd take ahead of them in a draft looking forward. But Wall's a talent, yes, not yet a player. You probably have to give him the max contract, as you said...I LOVE what Wall did the second half, he was great with Beal...I think he's improving. It's up to the Wizards to put a foot in his rear end to make sure he continues along this trajectory and up to Wall to look at the competition out there at his position and decide he's going to max out as a player...That, of course, is completely uncertain...
Do you think Mike Woodson is the right coach for the Knicks?
mike wilbon (2:27 PM)
Yeah, I think he is...I like the way he handled Melo and JR during the regular season. I think the Knicks need to make J-Kidd an assistant coach because the guy knows people and basketball like few others...The Knicks problem is personnel...Too old and too many pieces that don't fit...
If you put t.allen on lebron since lebron has to guard Z.Bo isn't it too much? Miami need Wade to beat Memphis...
mike wilbon (2:28 PM)
Agreed that Miami needs Wade to beat Memphis, but Memphis might not beat San Antonio...I think Miami needs Wade to beat the Spurs...AND LeBron ain't guarding Z-Bo...No chance. None. Zero...That's where Memphis has an advantage...Spo has to go big, but he ain't putting his star on Z-Bo.
Hey Wilbon, what makes Lebron even comparable to Jordan? He can't shoot as well, he isn't as clutch, and God knows he has none of the same fire in his heart. James just uses his big body to bully his way into the defense. He doesn't use crossovers or skills just his body. What makes him better than Jordan, Kobe or even Larry Bird?
mike wilbon (2:32 PM)
Everything these days is overstated...Nothing is viewed with context or nuance. And your question Michael is part of that problem. LeBron is highly, highly skilled, and he does just about everything you can do with a basketball at somewhere between 8-10. He's not as good as jordan and may never be...But LeBron has no weaknesses, none. He's shored up his FT shooting late in games, he's a great defender, a better playmaker than Jordan because that's what he does naturally...There's nothing in LeBron's game, especially since he now can operate in the post and draw double-teams, to criticize...Not anymore...LeBron's a different player, totally, than Bird was...LeBron has six, seven more seasons in which to make his place in history...Let's see what unfolds. I don't think I'll see a player as good as Jordan in my lifetime but I'm happy to watch and people expand the game and the possibilities...Can we now go so far in either direction with these declarations...
mike wilbon (2:33 PM)
okay, I gotta run and prepare for PTI...thanks for chatting everybody...See you next week, on Tuesday, since Monday is a holiday...Thanks...MW