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 1:30 p.m. ET!
mike wilbon (1:51 PM)
Hi Everybody...I'm just returning from California and Chicago (inching my way east) where I was consumed with basketball related stuff, NBA and college, but we'll obviously jump into the big stories of the day, Michael Sam and Marcus Smart...
Good Monday Michael. Let's get right to the biggest story from yesterday through today. What does Michael Sam coming out do for the NFL? Also, scouts/front office personnel saw him as a mid round draft pick but does he go undrafted now? Is this the beginning of more athletes coming out? Thanks.
mike wilbon (1:57 PM)
There's so much ground to cover here that I don't really know where to begin. I guess applauding his Missouri teammates would be a great place to start...for simply being supportive and not making a big deal of it, of being relieved (since some say they knew already) that Sam could now be true to who he really was. Do I think that's going to happen in the NFL? Not really. I'm apprehensive. I hope I'm wrong, but I just don't. The Mizzou players KNEW Sam for years, many of them. They knew who he was, not just his sexuality. But as he enters the NFL his sexuality will define him, at least for awhile. It'll start with the draft, where we've already had executives (on background, of course) say if things are equal between Sam and another player teams may decide they simply don't want to have the attention in and around their locker rooms...(more)
mike wilbon (2:08 PM)
...I've spent enough time in NFL locker rooms over the past 30 years to simply think Sam is going to face some overt hostility. I know how many players I've had tell me how much they don't want a gay person in their locker room (as if there aren't gay players, simply under cover, there are ALREADY in NFL locker rooms)...I know that a huge an influential subculture in pro football is Southern and Christian, in which there are loudly outspoken people who rail about homosexuality and sam sex marriage and all the related issues. Do I think people who identify themselves as such are going to pipe down or just stay silent about Sam when asked? No, I don't. Do I think people of all stripes, football players or not, are more accepting now than they would have been 10 years ago, even 5 years ago, of people whose sexuality is different from their own? Yes, absolutely. Still, I don't think Sam is going to exist without incident as he has at Mizzou. Would some locker rooms likely be better than others? Yes. Some rooms have stronger leaders, stronger coaches...But I'm not going to sit here and tell you I expect no drama, because I do...Jonathan Vilma, a REALLY smart guy, was quoted as saying last week he doesn't want to shower with a gay player...I think we're going to hear a full range of opinion...
I applaud Michael Sam's bravery. That said, do you think any team will draft him, or will the media "circus" be too much to deal with?
mike wilbon (2:11 PM)
I am NOT about to pretend to be a draft expert so I don't know if he was a lock to be drafted even before this revelation. But we've already heard some club execs would say they know there are teams that would not want the "circus" that presumably attends the arrival of Sam...And I don't doubt them one bit.
I just wanted to say that Texas Tech, Bobby Knight included, are weasels for defending their obnoxious/racist superfan. Next time a fan drops the n-bomb on a player, I hope he gets worse than a little shove.
mike wilbon (2:18 PM)
Okay, let's be much more careful here than you're being. One, we don't know quite what the Texas Tech fan said...not yet. Maybe we will be. I will say that as somebody who has been called the so-called "N-word" and been ready to fight over it, I won't condone Smart's reaction (because you CANNOT go into the stands, period) but I understand it. "Them's fighting words" describe precisely the way I feel about it. BUT, if "piece of sh--" is what the fan uttered, it doesn't meet the test to provoke that kind of response...not my test anyway. Now, this fan is a creep for previous actions (and this one) and the lack of civility in arenas and stadiums, fueled by alcohol consumption, is really, really bothersome and goes unchecked far too often. That said, Smart CANNOT go into the stands. Nasty, evil stuff is said all the time on courts and fields, around them close enough to hear. And Smart is going to have to figure out how to better deal with this if he's going to have a professional career. And if Smart simply fabricated this to drum up a more favorable reaction, shame on the kid for that as well.
Last week on PTI you said Matt Ryan is not one of the 10 best QBs in the NFL? I'm curious as to why you think this way. They were 5 yards from the Super Bowl last year and this year w/o his top receiver and the worst o-line and running game, he still put up respectable numbers.
mike wilbon (2:27 PM)
Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Ben Roethlisberger, Eli Manning, Kapernick, Russell Wilson, Joe Flacco, Cam Newton...I'd take all 10 of these guys ahead of Matt Ryan at the moment. ALL 10, 100 times out of 100 if we're talking career resume or a combination of career resume/immediate prospects. Matt Ryan, for my money, is a guy who is 12-15, somewhere in there...but not top 10. Can he play his way into the top 10 or even higher? yes, of course...by winning more in the postseason.
Vic (Los Angeles)
Since you're making more in-studio PTI appearances this year & less west coast trips, what are you doing with the extra time at home?
mike wilbon (2:34 PM)
Extra time at home? You think there aren't NBA games in other places? I'm not in Los Angeles weekly, you're right, but just last week I was in Miami for Spurs-Heat...I was in Oakland Thursday for Bulls-Warriors...so, while I am INDEED in the D.C. studio much more (thanks for noticing) I'm out to NBA games...So I'm not exactly posted up on the sofa! LOL. I have gotten to spend some Saturdays at home and attend my son's Kidball basketball lessons/practices/scrimmages...and watch more basketball with him than I thought possible for a kid not yet turned 6. He just wants to shoot it...a lefty...his screen-setting is really suspect at this point and he ain't fond of passing, but he can stroke it...My next few years are going to be devoted to driving this kid to way too many gymnasiums...until genetics take over and he goes to Plan B...
Tony (Richmond, CA)
Do the Bears resign McCown or let him go after inking Cutler to a monster deal?
mike wilbon (2:36 PM)
I would sign McCown and I can't say this loudly enough. Jay has missed games due to injury the last three years. so the Bears HAVE to know they need McCown if they're going to take advantage of Marshall/Jeffery/Forte/Bennett if Cutler misses games again...You have to protect these large investments by making a relatively small investment in McCown, a player that many other players think runs this new offense more efficiently than Cutler...
Do you think Melo or lebron would consider playing in chicago with derrick rose?
mike wilbon (2:37 PM)
Melo, yes. You can read my column on ESPN.com about Carmelo Anthony and whether the Bulls should want him if he decides to leave the Knicks.
Is Jadevon Clowney The best defesive lineman prospect you've seen since in the last 10 years?
mike wilbon (2:40 PM)
Better than Chris Long? No. His junior year he looked like a total offense-wrecker...not so much this past season, obviously. But Chris Long fit that bill when I saw him at Virginia...
Eric (South car)
Do you think the skins will end up changing there name?
mike wilbon (2:41 PM)
no...I don't. Ever? I don't know about ever...but in the next 10-15 years? No. I don't see it.
You're always praising defense in the NFL, but let's be honest: thanks to fantasy football and the best rivalry in pro sports (Brady vs Manning), defense is basically archaic. Sure, Seattle got lucky, but it's still a QB's league and the people want to see points.
mike wilbon (2:42 PM)
So, Seattle got lucky and the Ravens got lucky the year before that and the Giants, a defensive-oriented franchise, won twice in four seasons...Yeah, that's a lot of luck, Pal. Try again...
steve (salt lake city, ut)
no andrew luck in your top 10?
mike wilbon (2:45 PM)
Who you want to knock off my list? I can project and say Luck will be there, and I DO believe Luck will be there for a long, long time. But Kapernick and Wilson have been to Super Bowls, so you're not going to tell me he belongs ahead of them. All the guys I had on the list except Rivers have been to the Super Bowl, right?
What if a male figure skater announced he was gay? Would it be as big of a deal?
mike wilbon (2:47 PM)
Great qeustion...I think the answer is pretty simple: No.
Do you rank Carmelo ahead of Allen Iverson all-time? I think they are similar style players.
mike wilbon (2:51 PM)
Good analogy...Yeah, I think you can make that comparison. Tony K does it all the time...Iverson went to the NBA Finals. Carmelo has not...not yet, though he has time. Thing is, they're incredible prolific and effective scorers (though Iverson was certainly more spectacular) and somewhat one-dimensional. The question for Melo, to me, is as he looks around the NBA since he's a free agent in June, is what rosters are there where he would get teammates that do all the stuff he doesn't/can't do, and where that team desperately needs what he does, which is score. Larry Brown/Billy King brilliantly built a team around Iverson that way that reached the Finals.
Cam has won zero postseason games (1 less than Ryan) and is still wildly inconsistent. He was awful against Seattle (the only team Ryan has beaten in postseason). If nothing else Ryan is consistently very good. Not great but very good. Can't say that about Cam. Cam is still all potential.
mike wilbon (2:52 PM)
Dude, Ryan has been out there for, what, five years now and had good defenses AND great receivers and has one playoff win. So what are you telling me?
Why is it that you and Tony rarely talk NHL? Hockey is just as popular as basketball.
mike wilbon (2:55 PM)
It isn't. It isn't close. It isn't close to close. Don't confuse your opinion with fact. I do watch the NHL (Tony, not so much) and follow my hometown team pretty darned closely (Blackhawks)...But there's not the demand for it you seem to think there is. And I've said openly on PTI that the only thing I care about watching in Sochi is the hockey competition because its the most artistic thing I've ever seen...
Tim Tebow strikes me as a guy that would make a great backup for the 49ers and would be a nice project for Harbaugh. Is there any chance that could happen? It seems as teams don't want to deal with him because of the circus atmosphere.
mike wilbon (2:56 PM)
Don't you think the Tim Tebow train has left the station...for good?
Leo (Salt Lake)
Jerry Sloan just got honored here in Salt Lake. Being a Chicago native, whats your favorite Jerry Sloan story?
mike wilbon (3:02 PM)
My favorite Sloan story involves his dear friend and former teammates, the late Norm Van Lier...In the early prime of their careers Sloan and Norm had a huge fight when Norm was playing for, I think, the Royals...They didn't just fight, they fought all the way into the concourse. Norm once told me they rolled into a popcorn popper. Anyway, that off-season the Bulls had the chance to trade for Van Lier, so they go to Sloan and say, "Jerry, what if we wanted to get Norm Van Lier" and Sloan said, "Anybody who would fight me all the way into the concourse is a guy I'd love to play with" so the Bulls made the deal and two became the most beloved backcourt in club history, save a guy named Jordan and whomever he played with...I love Jerry Sloan. Love him. And loved Norm Van Lier, may he rest in peace.
Have you put any thought into what the new name of the Skins should be if they change it? I think bringing back the "Washington Senators" name would be pretty cool.
mike wilbon (3:03 PM)
None whatsoever...because I don't see it happening anytime soon.
Where would you rank Kobe and Lebron on your NBA All-Time List? Both have to be in the Top 10, right?
mike wilbon (3:07 PM)
Wow, great question...Well, Russell and Jordan and Magic aren't going to drop a notch...neither will Kareem. Will they supplant Bird? Perhaps, though I'm reluctant. I think the great Jerry West, who I had the honor of talking to in Oakland last week, winds up being surpassed...I think Wilt has to stay...I don't know how I feel about Duncan. I think Kobe may already be Top 10 and LeBron is certainly headed there...Ah, you didn't ask about Tim Duncan!!! Doesn't he deserve consideration, having won 4 and having to play against Shaq and Garnett and Karl Malone all his career?
mike wilbon (3:07 PM)
Okay, I gotta run and prepare for PTI...Have a great week everybody and thanks for chatting! MW