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 (1:37 PM)
What's up Everybody??? Playoff time! I'm as excited as is possible the third week of April, what with the NBA AND NHL playoffs starting...So we'll jump into that and whatever else you're up for...
Call me old school if you want but I think Championship teams must understand their roles, which is why I fear the worst for my Pacers. I really think Lance feels he's better than Paul George. Agree?
mike wilbon (1:45 PM)
Great observation. Yeah, I kind of agree with you. Same goes for OKC, right? That's my issue with the Thunder; doesn't Russell Westbrook think he's better than Kevin Durant? Certainaly, his shot total suggests he doesn't understand what the pecking order should be. But the thing about the Pacers is that George--and he is the best player on Indy's team--hasn't proven himself in the post-season yet and Stephenson, who is playing for a free agent contract, has that same uber aggressive mentality as Westbrook...Call me naive (TK already has) but I think the Pacers might have played themselves out of their funk yesterday against--drum roll--OKC w Westbrook firing up brick after brick in that game...Indy is the most compelling team/story going into the playoffs...Okay, Spurs or Pacers...
Batman (Gotham) [via mobile]
Hey Wilbon! Even though the ending of the Masters was a little anticlimactic since Bubba had a few stroke lead most of the back nine, I found myself more intrigued than most years. This may be sacrilege, but is gold more exciting without Tiger? Without that dominating headline, it was more exciting for me at least seeing all the young guys like Spieth and Blixt playing so well in a major.
mike wilbon (1:57 PM)
Maybe for you, but not for me. Yesterday's final round wasn't classic or unforgettable...not for me anyway. It was entertaining. There were multiple intriguing story lines, like Jordan Spieth and of course, Bubba...But it wasn't like having Tiger...And if you want to argue that, consider the TV ratings were the lowest for a final round of The Masters in 10 years...back when Tiger was driving them up...Over the first 2 days of The Master viewership was down 25 percent, then 29 percent. ESPN/CBS ought to pay for Tiger's rehab from this latest surgery...Golf is in trouble. People aren't buying it because they don't know these guys yet, and nobody out there (maybe Bubba) stirs the imagination...It's like the NBA in 1999 and 2000 without Michael jordan...Not possible that it was as good without him as it was with him. Same with Tiger/Phil...
Hockey is my third favorite sport behind baseball and football but for some reason I enjoy hockey playoffs more than anything else. What is it about hockey playoffs that make the sport so much better?
mike wilbon (2:10 PM)
Tension. The mere scoring of a goal is so enormous, and the reaction to it so passionate...NHL goals aren't as rare as soccer goals, of course, but the tension of a one-goal game is tremendous...I'm with you. I go to Blackhawks playoff games as a fan...went a lot last year during the championship run...and will be at Game 3 a week from tonight when the Blackhawks play the Blues in Chicago...It's thrilling...Now, I love ALL the playoffs. Baseball playoffs, which tend to be lower scoring, are also a thrill at 2-1 and 3-2 and 1-0...The tension is almost unbearable...
Cincy (Lincoln Park)
Theoretically? would you rather see Mirotic or Julius Randle on the team next year?
mike wilbon (2:15 PM)
Mirotic...He's the two-time player of the year in Europe. Randle seems a bit undersized. I wouldn't turn him down but it seems he'd be drafted loooong before the Bulls use charlotte's pick somewhere around 15...I'm excited to see Mirotic, given how long ago he was drafted by the Bulls...They need a floor stretcher, a shooter with size and Mirotic is 6-10 or so...I'm dying to see him.
So after all that it looks like Indy will still get Home court in the east. Is the reports of the Pacers demise greatly overrated? Did we just need something to talk about in March & April?
mike wilbon (2:20 PM)
Great question! I wonder if it says something more about Miami? Look, getting to the Finals 4 straight times is so difficult. Michael Jordan retired twice so he didn't do it. Magic didn't do it. Kobe and Shaq playing together didn't do it. Pop/Duncan/Parker/Ginobili ain't gonna do it. It's difficult. Miami's in a really, really tough situation. I could see the Pacers, if they finish with the #1 seed, losing to the Nets or Bulls in the second round. And I definitely could see the Nets taking the Heat to the limit in a a conference finals series...But no, the Pacers free fall wasn't exaggerated. I was in their locker room 2 weeks ago and they were very concerned then. The Pacers roster isn't loaded with crazies who are in denial. They've got smart guys like David West and Paul George and Roy Hibbert who know they're being challenged. It's on the court where they have real potential problems. They're 27th, I think, in assists and they turn the ball over like crazy, which makes for trouble against some opponents. They have to play their way out of this and might have yesterday with that win over OKC...
Mitch (dallas )
Can we give the "if X western conf team played in the east they'd be x seed" a rest? The spurs or OKC don't wine about conference placement...
mike wilbon (2:22 PM)
Well, if you're Phoenix and you win 49 games and miss the playoffs, yet have to watch a sub-.500 Hawks team in the playoffs, you've got to be upset. The best ATL can do will be 39 wins and the Suns could end up 16 games over .500 and not make the postseason...The Suns are WAAAAY better than ATL and Charlotte, not even close.
Mike P (Greater KC Metro)
Which 1st round matchup in the NBA playoffs has you the most intrigued and the most on "upset" alert.
mike wilbon (2:28 PM)
Bulls-Nets would be incredible...those are the teams with the best records in the Eastern Conference since January 1. I think the Mavericks can push either the Spurs or OKC in the first round, though I would NOT pick Dallas to actually win the series. Warriors-Clippers would be a really fun watch...I think we're looking at chalk, though...I expect to see Spurs, OKC, Clippers and Houston in the second round...and I expect (if the seedings hold) to see Pacers, Heat, and Nets in the second round in the East...Upset? Wizards over Raptors if they finish 6-3...Could Memphis beat OKC in the first round? I don't think so...Bulls-Nets would be a beastly series, though. I think if the Bulls finish 3rd, ahead of Toronto, could beat the Wizards AND Pacers to reach the conference finals but I don't know about the Bulls beating the Nets in a 4-5 matchup even with the Bulls having home court.
So I'm watching the Indy OKC game yesterday and after he hits the big shot I watch Stephenson dance for 2 minutes. Will some team overpay this summer him to be their leader? And if so why?
mike wilbon (2:32 PM)
No, not their leader...You can add Stephenson to certain teams and he can make a huge difference. There's talk in Chicago about him (not Melo) going there, to the Bulls...He wouldn't be their leader but he'd make a difference in their lineup, right? He's a bit much, but is he more than Noah when it comes to that stuff? Not really. It's risky, some might think, because Lance has been a wild-card emotionally in the past and some are tying Indy's two-month slide to Lance, specifically, moon-walking back into his old ways...But he leads the NBA in triple-doubles this season (with 5, one ahead of Noah who was one assist short of a 5th last night)...I'd take Lance on a team that's a contender...I don't want to make him the centerpiece of a dog team, like, Philly...Nope...
Mike P (Greater KC Metro)
Bubba wins a second green jacket and the golf world hasnt imploded on it self yet. Surprised that it hasnt or that Golf survived a major weekend without Tiger, Phil, D. Johnson, Mcillroy, Scott, and countless others not in contention
mike wilbon (2:33 PM)
Did you see those ratings I talked about earlier? You have to do more than "survive" if you're golf...
Brad (Iowa City)
Do the Bulls regret trading Luol Deng?
mike wilbon (2:36 PM)
I just said out loud in our PTI newsroom that if the Bulls had a healthy Luol Deng right now I'd take them in a series over Indy...now, the salary cap situation is going to help them get a lot better starting next season BUT they never thought D.J. Augustine would do for this team what Nate Robinson and Marco Belinelli did for last year's team that beat the Nets in the first round. They figured it out in early January...I recall talking to Thibs after an early January game and he came right out and said that D.J. was goint to allow his team to play a completely different way...and it did.
Dominic (Irving, TX)
how dare you say Spurs WONT do it. every1 counts them out year after year they say "ok last year was it, they are too old now." for 5+ years now. but all they do is win! since Duncan was drafted they have won 50 games every year. except lockout when they won 49... how dare you! haha
mike wilbon (2:36 PM)
how dare you actually listen. Show me where I said the spurs won't win...you're a clown.
Derrin (Plano, TX)
Was Russell Westbrook challenging his inner Kevin Garnett yesterday blocking shots as he returned to the bench? What was the point?
mike wilbon (2:37 PM)
Yes. There is no point. Westbrook's whole deal is to challenge any and everything...suppose he'd gotten hurt?
Mike are you excited for the upcoming World Cup? Have you ever been to Brazil?
mike wilbon (2:38 PM)
I am excited for the World Cup and I am NOT going to Brazil...never been to Brazil...never been to South America, which is too bad for me...So I'll enjoy it on the tele like most everybody else.
NFL Draft right around the corner! Are you taking Johnny Football to quarterback your team?
mike wilbon (2:42 PM)
Just to serve as a reminder: I don't watch the NFL Draft. Now, I know the date has changed but it comes during the NBA Playoffs, which I cover for this network...The NFL draft, to me, is the most overstated thing in sports today and NOBODY agrees with me because anything football gets a huge rating. I haven't watched a minute of it in, oh, 6 or 7 years...and won't this year. I watch TONS of college football. I'm a season ticket holder at a Big Ten school and really get into the kids in my conference...But I won't know 20 of the 32 players chosen in the first round...won't have any idea, really, about their individual college careers...
Tony (Richmond, CA)
Are the Wizards and the Bobcats franchises on the rise that will continue to make the playoffs and become a contender in the East? Or are they one hit wonders that will return to the usual mediocrity?
mike wilbon (2:45 PM)
Great question! Well, the Wizards have a backcourt that a lot of franchises would envy: John Wall and Bradley Beal...and they've got some nice big men in Nene and Marcin Gortat...got some nice wing players in Ariza and Martell Webster...I think the Wizards could beat Toronto in the first round...Charlotte has done a great job, particularly their coach Steve Clifford...But they don't have that franchise player and I wonder how long they can sustain it without a guy like Wall...
Kevin (Plymouth, MI)
Think we'll see Dumars with another organization now?
mike wilbon (2:46 PM)
Goodness, yes. Joe Dumars put together a team that won a championship and got close for several more years. Absolutely, yes, some team should hire Joe Dumars.
What's your over/under on how many medals the recently unretired Michael Phelps takes in Rio?
mike wilbon (2:48 PM)
Two or three, maybe. There are so many events, he'll win something...But will he be THE guy at 31? I can't see that. In swimming? Boy, I know he's the greatest ever but that's sooo old for swimming.
Charles (San Jose)
The Lakers were in the Finals four straight seasons from 1982-1985. Did Magic miss one of them?
mike wilbon (2:48 PM)
My bad...So Magic did it and Bird did it...Nobody since...Thank you for catching that...
How do you feel about Patrick Reed laying an egg at the Masters? Do you think he was just too over confident from winning a PGA event, or maybe because he (LOL) declared himself one of the top 5 golfers in the world he just put too much pressure on himself?
mike wilbon (2:49 PM)
I thought about Patrick Reed not ONE MOMENT while watching The Masters. Seriously, people pop up one week on the tour and all of a sudden they're proclaimed a big deal...I thought he'd finish about like he finished.
mike wilbon (2:50 PM)
Okay, gotta run and prepare for PTI...Thanks for chatting everybody...We'll resume next Monday when we have had a full weekend of NBA and NHL...have a great week...MW