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. 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!
bad news: the crying heat have no chance of making it to the eastern conference finals. good news: they'll have plenty of time to chill after the regular season
mike wilbon (1:24 PM)
Trying to get started here but having big technical difficulties, Gang...Hope everybody had a great weekend...Miami has important things to fix in the next five weeks before the playoffs begin but I don't think the problems are so massive they can't be. I'm not ready yet to say Miami can't beat the Knicks or Sixers in the first round and the Bulls in the second. I think the Bulls are a better team now, yes. But I also believe Miami can figure out some of what's ailing them in time to win two rounds and get to the conference finals...
At this point in Lebron's career, seeing his ups and downs, is it more justified to say that Lebron does not have the inherent leadership ability, drive, and killer instinct to be the best player in the world? I'm not talking sheer athleticism; I'm talking basketball player.
Mike Wilbon (1:31 PM)
It's certainly fair to start wondering, after eight years in the league, if LeBron lacks certain attributes and killer instinct is the one I wonder about. And you are absolutely on the money in that too many people confuse athleticism with playing the game. Magic and Bird had little in the way of jumping and explosion but it didn't matter at all because inherent leadership ability, drive and killer instinct they had in abundance...So, by the way, does (or did) D-Wade, who exhibited these things in 2006. I'd argue they're having LeBron do too much. I'd like to see Wade, Miami's best half-court player, with the ball in the final 10 seconds because we've seen what Wade can do in those situations...People are starting to compare LeBron more and more frequently with Wilt, who had all the skills, every physical attribute you could want, but couldn't match Bill Russell when it came to the intangible attributes you mention. At some point, though, LeBron is going to have to figure out that winning is difficult and it demands certain sacrifices you might not want to make but have to. When? I don't want to say he can't, but he certainly hasn't yet. And eight years in is a little long, considering just how skilled he is.
Do you agree that all this Heat hate is annoying?
Mike, the Lakers played out of their minds yesterday, perhaps better than they're capable of playing on a regular basis; anything from yesterday's game suggest that an LA-SA series wouldn't be extremely competitve and go 7 games?
Mike Wilbon (1:42 PM)
No, it's not annoying. Why? Miami brought all this on itself with that celebration. I just watched it again on YouTube...I'm talking about where they're seated in their uniforms and LeBron is talking about winning not two, not three, not four, not five, not six...Are you kidding? There's a championship rally before the first practice has been conducted! They earned this reaction. And trust me, it's not hindsight. The most famous players in the game--I mean THE MOST FAMOUS among them--hated Miami and wished they'd lose every game from the night LeBron announced his decision. And yes, that's fair. Not only do I not hate the Heat, I know how good they've been for the game of basketball this fall/winter, know how good they've been for the ratings and readership...And I know those guys, Wade better than Bosh and Bosh better than LeBron, but I know them all and like them very, very much...have great professional relationships with all of them...Wade more personally because we're from the same place and South Side Chicago stuff in common...know Juwan Howard better than any and all of them, really like Mike Miller who's a total pro...I'd like to see those guys do well, so I absolutely DO NOT hate them...BUT, I get why so many people do. How can you now get it. They're the Yankees, except they're not sitting on a ton of championships. They'll have to play through it, and I think they will ultimately. They'll have to realize they brought this upon themselves (well, a couple of guys did) and they'll have to just crash right through it if they're going to be the team they believe they can be...
Mike Wilbon (1:49 PM)
The Lakers, I believe, have what amounts to a check list of things they want to get done this regular season, which they are otherwise bored with completely. Just before the All-Star brea they won at Boston, won at Madison Square Garden, won at Portland (where they historically stink), won at Oklahoma City, and now won at San Antonio. Oh, and they have at Miami Thursday night. The Lakers, even in their boredom, want to show that when they're awake they can kill you. And they still can. I will say this in their defense: only two franchises have reached four straight NBA Finals, the Celtics and Lakers. It's difficult and demanding and exacting to the point of being numbing. They're not robots. This isn't a football season. The Lakers identify these moments where they want to flex and, BOOM!, the knock you out. So, no there is nothing from yesterday's game that suggests a Spurs-Lakers series would go seven games. Quite a few players in the league wondered during the All-Star break whether the Spurs 1) can still play defense...2) can win if they don't shoot threes well in a particular game...Well, yesterday's result suggests the Spurs can't play the kind of championship defense they used to play and that they might have to incorporate more of the traditional inside-out offense starting with Tim Duncan that they used so effectively over the years...
Dave (austin TX)
Tired of all the Hea talk. What about the Spurs? So they dropped one to the Lakers. Just came out flat , it happens. Everyone talks about San Antonio living on the 3 point shot and thier D isn't what it used to be. At 51-11 the formula sure seems to be working right?
Mike Wilbon (1:53 PM)
Formula's "work" in the post-season. The Spurs could have been "flat" but it's hard to imagine they would be with the Lakers coming in. Again, there are Lakers, among others, who believe the Spurs will struggle in the post-season with this new high-octane approach...There's a lot of skepticism among current players over the Spurs. They say the Spurs are the new Suns and it won't work. We'll see...
can we read too much into lakers whooping on s.a. yesterday, and was kobe the most important player on the floor as you suggested he would be?
Mike Wilbon (1:54 PM)
I think Phil Jackson appealed to the Lakers in all the right ways about their play once the All-Star break ended, and they're now alert and acting in full defense of their back-to-back championships. There are still 20 or so games to go, so maybe Phil and Kobe got it right...again.
Nate (Virginia Beach)
When will see Derrick Rose get the same fouls called that other superstars receive? There were several cases during yesterdays game that Rose didn't get a foul called (still made the basket) on the flip side Lebron and Wade will get those ticky tack fouls called all the time.
Mike Wilbon (1:56 PM)
Ain't that the truth. Thing is, it has to be earned over time. I think beginning in the playoffs, especially if Rose wins the MVP, we'll see him start getting some of those calls. Miami beat him up pretty good yesterday and he got about one-quarter of the calls he should have. But this is part of the evolution of becoming a Superstar in the NBA. It takes awhile.
If you're Memphis, do you want to actually play the higher seeds in the playoffs than lower seeds considering the success against San Antonio, Dallas and Los Angeles?
Mike Wilbon (1:57 PM)
Memphis is going to be a tough out in the playoffs, I'll bet that. As much as I want to see another Suns-Spurs series, I'd welcome Memphis-Spurs, too...I wonder, though, how Rudy Gay's return is going to affect what they do. The Grizz look pretty good now but they're going to have to hit the re-set button when Gay returns.
DR (West Hollywood, CA)
Is this the best season for the L since 98??
Mike Wilbon (2:01 PM)
Yeah, I think so. Good question...I liked 2002 a lot, the year Sacramento was great...And I liked the year the Suns and Spurs played that series the league ruined by suspending Stoudemire and Boris Diaw...when was that, 2007...Yeah, 2007...So, there have been some seasons I liked, but this is pretty darned good stuff. Actually, it's great as the league heads toward the playoffs. A Miami-New York series in the first round, a 3-6 possibility, would bring a ratings bonanza...There are some good matchup possibilities...
The Bulls beat Orlando with guys like Asik and Brewer really stepping up and no one player really having an enormous game (at least relatively in Rose's case) yet they were in control most of the game. Are the Bulls the deepest team in the NBA, at least defensively?
Mike Wilbon (2:06 PM)
Yes, the Bulls have the best bench defensively by a big margin. And it enables them to have team after team score its fewest points of the season or shoot its lowest percentage...Ronnie Brewer is so good on the ball as a defender. It's quite an ensemble the Bulls have, which doesn't often work in the NBA, the one-star model. And we'll have to see how it works in the playoffs...CAN'T WAIT! (Do I have to pay Bart Scott royalties for saying that?)
From these previous losses by Miami, is it safe to say that Lebron Jmaes just lost alot of points for MVP
Mike Wilbon (2:07 PM)
LeBron is 4th in my MVP voting at this point: Derrick Rose, Dirk Nowitzki, Dwight Howard (I just flip-flopped those two) and LeBron 4th...I do have a vote, and I believe in revealing that stuff when all is said and done...
Are the Lakers back ?
Mike Wilbon (2:07 PM)
shorter answers, more questions answered please
Mike Wilbon (2:08 PM)
Then conduct your own chat. You want shorter than yes...yes...look elsewhere, pal. thanks for playing.
Ranky (Ann Arbor)
Wouldn't you argue that Kobe went through the same criticism a few years ago about "not having what it takes" and that Lebron is just going through the same thing?
Mike Wilbon (2:09 PM)
Great question...Kobe went through it, though, after winning with Shaq. Then he had a year when he and the Lakers blew a 3-1 lead to the Suns, and another year when they missed the playoffs completely. So yes, Kobe did go through this and it seems people don't even remember it now. Glad you did.
Mike, can we talk a little NCAA? Any thoughts on Ohio State dropping 14 of 15 three's yesterday? That's insane, right? Do they have what it takes to win the whole thing?
Mike Wilbon (2:10 PM)
I've been saying on PTI for five weeks my pick to win the whole thing is Ohio State, because they've got this great combination of inside and outside play. Without knowing the brackets for another week, I'll take Ohio State right now against the field.
Wilbon, would first like to say Im a big fan of yours. Now my question. I hate to look past the great season the bulls are having, but this team is a piece of two away from really dominating the league for years. The bulls I know have what 2-3 first round draft picks. What do think the Bulls plan will be when draft day comes???(I havent been watching college hoops all that much this year)Thanks.
Mike Wilbon (2:13 PM)
Thank you, first of all. Second, you don't have to use those picks on college players. You could package them to trade for a shooter...there are usually a couple available. Memphis was crazy to turn down the Bulls' offer for OJ Mayo...But anyway, you could identify a shooter who now plays in Europe or South America, or trade for one...so the picks are still valuable, even in a what appears to be a terrible draft...Although I talked to a former club executive who is a master at drafting and he says that's overstated, the draft isn't all that bad...We'll see...
Does Luol deng like flying under the radar on this bulls squad?
Mike Wilbon (2:13 PM)
Yes. I've asked and he's answered that he does.
Artest's Biceps (Los Angeles, CA)
We're back, as well.
Mike Wilbon (2:15 PM)
Good point that shouldn't be ignored. Ron Artest's improvement and the Lakers 7-0 run aren't coincidental. When he's flying around and blocking shots and diving on the floor it's just what the Lakers need. and Artest feels like he's more a part of things.
Things going good in Chicago. Weather is somewhat warming up (despite typical Windy City weather of snow this weekend after it hit 60 the day before), Bulls beating top teams on the road, Hawks on an 8 game winning streak. How sweet would it be if both teams go deep into the playoffs come May?
Mike Wilbon (2:19 PM)
Yeah, we can't end this chat (well, for the chicago folks anyway) without giving some dap to the Blackhawks who've won 8 straight and jumped all the way up to 4th (though they're about five points out of 10th). They appear to have hit a stride at the perfect time, though there are, what 15 games left, something like that...This just in from John Hollinger and his Championship Odds: the Bulls have the greatest chance of making the NBA Finals and of winning (17.9 percent)...This seems crazy to me, but I respect John's work very much...Will have to find out how and why he arrived at this decision...Okay, gotta run and prepare for PTI...Talk to you all next week on SELECTION MONDAY!!! Can't wait...Ooops, did it again...