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 (1:36 PM)
Hi Evrybody! Coming at you from frigid Chicago, where I just saw something that said the official temperature at 13 degrees...Chances are most people joining this chat are freezing wherever they are...So let's warm it up and jump right into a variety of topics...
Reason # 48 why the NBA Season is too long: Lebron's facemask has gotten more publicity than all the NBA games in February.
mike wilbon (1:40 PM)
Oh, ALL professional sports seasons except the NFL are too long. MLB should go back to 154. The NBA and NHL should be 65-70 games, max. And yes, anything LeBron does will get more attention than your garden variety February-March game...It's a time where people care about the team in THEIR market; trust me, nobody here in Chicago is talking about LeBron's mask the day after Joakim Noah recorded a triple-double AND Jimmer Fredette signed on and played for the three-point challenged Bulls...BUT, I get your point, totally. Nationally, no one game this weekend was particularly large or attractive. But that's always been how the NBA rolls. When the personalities were Magic and Bird, they were larger than any one result in the league...Same during Jordan's era, and same went for Kobe and Shaq when they were together with the Lakers. But owners are NOT going to be shortening the schedule and reducing the number of games because it would mean less $$$ and we know that ain't happpening...
Jay (Phoenixville, PA)
Why are people worried if a small handful of athletes get/complete their education or go broke? Seems like they are giving us the okie doke to distract from the real problem / reasons for not letting inner city youth eligible to make a living & fulfill their dreams.
mike wilbon (1:46 PM)
Are you arguing that getting an education doesn't facilitate making a living and fulfilling dreams? I grew up on the South Side of Chicago and I can promise you one led to the other, directly.
Is Melo the new Iverson? Lots of Points but very little of the other things?
mike wilbon (1:47 PM)
Maybe...Iverson got to the Finals once, though...Melo, not yet. But yeah, the analogy has its merits.
Hi Michael, do you think Boozer will still be playing for the Bulls next year?
mike wilbon (1:48 PM)
Probably not. BUT, if all the Bulls do is add Nikola Mirotic they could try and keep Boozer, which would allow Taj Gibson to still come of the bench...
Tiger Woods, not only does it look like that he will not catch Jack's record now, but I would not be surprised if he does not win another major. He is a very old 38,
mike wilbon (1:49 PM)
Lot of injuries, as you suggest. Knee, back, wrist...When you get to late 30s, as a whole lot of us already know, there's always something...
Kevin Miller (Philly)
Where does Iverson rank all time? top 20? top 25?
mike wilbon (1:58 PM)
no...not on my list. Would I rank Iverson ahead of, say, Patrick Ewing? No. And Ewing isn't top 20-25 either. Do you know how quick it is to get a top 15? (In no order): Russell, Jordan, Magic, Oscar, Bird, LeBron, Kobe, Wilt, Kareem, Baylor, Shaq, Duncan, Mikan, McHale, Sam Jones, Pippen, Havlicek, Irving, Rick Barry, Moses Malone, Unseld, Hayes, Frazier, Reed, Bradley, Monroe, Barkley, Ewing, Wade...How many is that off the top of my head? Damn, that's 30. Walton, Oh wait, Isiah Thomas...So, I got to 32 without even pausing at the keyboard and forgive me for those I forgot doing it that way. Is Iverson ahead of ANY of them? No chance. None. Steve Nash? Maybe a tie. Is Iverson ahead of Dirk? No. I'm getting dangerously close to 35, right, without Iverson? He'd be somewhere between 35 and 40 for me. There are folks who value different stuff, but--oh wait, Dominique? I got "Nique ahead of Iverson...Oh wait, Stockton, David Robinson...Hell, Iverson MIGHT make my top 50...but he ain't going ahead of a single guy I just mentioned...Glad you asked. I'm sure a whole lot of you under 40 don't even know who Hayes and Unseld are. Google, Holmes, google...
Have you ever been to a game in Milwaukee? Are we going to lose the Bucks to another city some day? Thanks.
mike wilbon (2:00 PM)
Yes, I have...and that thought has crossed my mind. And if I ran Seattle it would REALLY cross my mind. The franchise doesn't seem viable there anymore, which is sad. I grew up in Chicago at a time when the Bucks were a monster, with Kareem and Oscar, and even after that for a lot of years with Marques Johnson and Brian Winters and Junior Bridgeman and Big Bob Lanier and guys like that...But its such a forlorn franchise now, it seems...
What are your thoughts on the Jimmer Fredette signing by the Bulls? Thank you.
mike wilbon (2:03 PM)
I like the signing. I think he can help in certain situations. But people act like Fredette is going to play a lot when he isn't. That's not how Coach T. Thibs rolls, boys and girls. The 3 minutes straight that Jimmer got yesterday in garbage time against the Knicks could be the only time this season he plays 3 continuous minutes. Thibs has a rotation and short of injury it isn't going to change. Kirk Hinrich and DJ Augustin are going to get almost all the minutes all the time at point guard. Could there be situations at the end of quarters where you get Jimmer in there for a look at a three? Yes, of course...and in case of foul trouble and the like, yes...but the notion that Jimmer is going to get 12-15 minutes a night is foolishness...and I think Thibs LIKES Jimmer from what I heard from the coach yesterday, and I did talk to Thibs after the game in Chicago...
Bob Ryan had a great comment yesterday about Melo on SportsReporters. He said he's a " great piece" but not a player you build around. Basically saying you can't win a ring with him being your best player. Do you agree?
mike wilbon (2:13 PM)
Yeah, I think I do...Melo is an important piece for damn sure. But the thing he doesn't really do is actively, vocally lead a team...I mean the way, say, Joakim Noah does...take a team by the back of the neck and say "This way!" Carmelo doesn't do that. That's why the speculation about Chicago is interesting because he wouldn 't have to be one of the team's two most important personalities. Actually, the Bulls are already three-deep there with Noah, Rose and Thibs who are incredibly STRONG personalities. Perhaps Melo needs to be in a culture like that in the same way Los Angeles wasn't good for Dwight Howard. He needed to be in a place like Houston where James Harden was the obvious leader, with a strong personality like McHale...Melo wants to be in a big market, but I don't know his personality fits that. Where did Melo do his best work? In Syracuse, N.Y. Are the Bulls interested? Yes. Are they going to wreck the roster to get him? No. And will Melo even decide to leave? I don't know. I do think increasingly, even around the Knicks, the answer has evolved to "How much does he want to win?" If the answer is "desperately" then Melo needs to leave this summer. If its "not so much" then stay in New York, make the extra money and be involved in drama all the time...
Where do you stand on Wichita State getting a 1 seed? I look at it like I looked at this past CFB season. I thought Auburn deserved to go to the champ game over an undefeated Ohio State (if they beat Mich St) because of the superior schedule. Why should College B-Ball be any different? Wich St. has not played anyone, I'd be fine if they got a 3 seed.
mike wilbon (2:15 PM)
There is no credible argument out there against Wichita State being a No. 1 seed. None.
If the Niners ended up letting harbaugh leave or traded him, do you think that Jon Gruden would be tempted to step out of the booth and take this job?? If not Gruden, who would be a good choice to take over??
mike wilbon (2:19 PM)
I won't get into the speculation about who would replace Harbaugh, but I do think Jon Gruden loves his life in the same way that John Madden came to love his life, which is to say they make millions of $$$ doing something that has NO risk, huge profile, dozens of perks with no end of the riches in sight...Why risk that? I know, the answer is "because he's a competitive man!" And he is. But again, at what risk? He's won a Super Bowl, already been acknowledged as a great coach...and now he has a new life which seems pretty great.
David (Austin, Tx)
Can you and Tony touch on the disgrace that is Friday Night Tykes, this afternoon on PTI? This thing is a train wreck!!
mike wilbon (2:19 PM)
I don't even know what that is...
ted (cape cod)
Are you buying Billy Donovan's Florida Gators as the favorites to win it all heading into March Madness?
mike wilbon (2:20 PM)
I am buying them as a No. 1 seed...along with Wichita State, Syracuse and Arizona...
Dylan [via mobile]
What chances does kentucky have in the ncaa tournament
mike wilbon (2:20 PM)
To win? Not much. They're not that good this year. Just like all but about 10-15 schools.
Josh (Chicago Burbs)
Noah has been fun to watch of late, but I worry other teams are going to figure out what he and Thibs are doing and adjust. Your thoughts?
mike wilbon (2:24 PM)
I had that same thought as i was writing a column about Noah that's posted on ESPN.com now...Noah even brought it up in our talk post-game...The critical component is Noah's ability to score, to shoot, when people back off of him to play his passing lanes. Defenses will adjust (look for the Nets to cause the Bulls some turnover problems tonight) and then Noah and Thibs will have to adjust. That's the chess game that is all pro sports. But those guys--Dunleavy, Butler, Augustin, Hinrich--have to make shots on that dribble-handoff Noah likes to run at the elbow. If they make jump shots (talking about a BIG "if" other than Dunleavy) then Noah's assist totals won't be as outrageous as they've been lately. He's become the best big man passer in the NBA since Vlade in the early 2000s...
Andrew (Tucson, Arizona)
I believe the Bulls would need to trade another player on top of amnestying Boozer to acquire Melo. Would they be willing to part with Taj to get Melo?
mike wilbon (2:26 PM)
You're right, and they would have to almost certainly part with Taj Gibson, unless Melo says, "I'll sign a one-year deal because I want to play with Gibson on what would be a ready-made contender." Do I expect him to do that for $12-$14 million? No. Again, how desperately does Melo want to win, especially when he looks at his peers (LeBron, Wade, Bosh, and older guys like Kobe, Duncan and Dirk and want to have at least one ring, like everybody in that group?
John (Hartford, CT)
I don't get the Melo disses. The guy has never had healthy quality teammates with good coaching over a prolonged period of time. How'd KG do when Googs and Steph Marbury were his best teammates? Wouldn't his team look a lot different if Tyson Chandler was the same guy he was with Dirk on the Mavs? To win in the NBA, you need a good situation, good teammates, and a little bit of luck staying healthy. I'm not defending Melo, I've just seen him win a NCAA title as the best guy on his team, win in international ball, and play for what's probably the most dysfunctional franchise in sports.
mike wilbon (2:27 PM)
Great point, well stated...Thanks for that.
So if Iverson won one title would that put him in your top 50. Just curious.
mike wilbon (2:30 PM)
It might put him past John Stockton and Steve Nash, neither of whom won...but would it put him past Isiah Thomas? Seriously? No chance. Past Frazier and Monroe? No chance. Past Barkley who won no titles? No. Oh, I also forgot Reggie Miller who also did NOT win a title...would I have Iverson ahead of Reggie? Maybe...it's close. Oh, I also didn't have KG and Paul Pierce on that list, and BOTH go ahead of Iverson...So cracking the top 50 would be tough for him. Should he go ahead of Tony Parker? Not only my list...Tony Parker on a bad team, or a team built around him, could score 30 a game...he'd go about it differently than Iverson, who SHOULD get points for the way he entertained and left it out there everynight and inspired people...But so did a great many of those others...Bernard King? Hmmm
Did you accidently leave Hakeem off of your list or is he below all of thosse guys listed?
mike wilbon (2:30 PM)
Thanks for that. I said up front that I knew I'd forget somebody...And obviously, Hakeem goes ahead of Iverson. That makes it harder to put him top 50...
Can you help people like me have a better understanding of why there is acceptance of the N-word? I'm a 40 year old white guy and throughout my life that word has always represented hatred, intolerance and frankly, stupidity. I watch PTI daily and I've heard your argument but like Tony, when I hear that word it only has negative connotations. Is the use of it by African-Americans, or anyone who isn't using it derisively, an attempt to eliminate the hatred and racism behind it's original meaning? I'm a very big fan of your opinion and I appreciate any additional insight on this matter.
mike wilbon (2:34 PM)
For those of us who do use it, and I'd say its about 50-50 with people in my life, we're not attempting to do anything. We're using a word that our parents and grandparents and grand uncles and aunts used, and maybe great grands. No offense, but white folks are just joining the discussion in progress. We, black people, have been batting this back and forth and using or hating the N-word for hundreds of years...Hip Hop didn't invent the use of the word; it did (as my friend Jason Whitlock reminds me) explode the usage, push it into mainstream thought and discussion through popular culture when it was previously confined, almost exclusively, to barber shops and park benches or anywhere black folks, mostly men, congregated and used it...I don't EVER use it in front of white people but use it all the time with black people I know use it regularly and its not a crusade or a cause or an attempt. It's like "him" or "her" or "them" which is to say, a pronoun...not only is there not hatred behind it when we use it, its usually a term of endearment, and I don't expect people outside the culture to understand it, and ain't looking for their endorsement or permission to use it...I hope that scratches the surface a little bit...
Dumb hypothetical quesiton...If a bunch of old guys like Kobe, Garnett, Pierce, Allen, Duncan, Nash, Carter, etc, decided to play together on a team, could they take down the Heat in a Finals setting? Thanks.
mike wilbon (2:37 PM)
Love this question...If they practiced for three months, then maybe they'd have a chance. I like this...I gotta run this past some basketball people and see what they think. Obviously, this has failed in recent Olympic competition, like 2004 but all the U.S. guys were so young...I like the notion of old heads doing it because you'd like to think there would be zero knuckleheaded behavior and one goal: to win.
Hey Mike, what do you think is going to happen with the St Louis Rams stadium situation? I think Kroenke's land purchase is a leverage move and they end up staying given all of the hurdles
mike wilbon (2:38 PM)
I think I said during a chat some time ago I expect the Rams and Chargers to be playing in greater Los Angeles, ultimately.
mike wilbon (2:39 PM)
Okay, I gotta run and prepare for PTI...I presume we'll be talking more about Jim Harbaugh and about Tiger Woods, and beyond that I just don't know...We didn't talk about the Penguins-Blackhawks game, which I thought was a great event for the NHL...Okay, I'm out. See you next Monday...thanks for chatting. Have a great week. MW