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December 8, 1:30 PM ET
Chat with Michael Wilbon

  (1:25 PM)

Michael will be here in a few minutes. Get those questions in!

Bill (Chicago)

Great to have you as a featured writer! Finally someone to give Simmons some competition...

Mike Wilbon
  (1:40 PM)

Hi Everybody...Welcome to my first live chat for ESPN, on my first day as an columnist. I've done chats forever, as far back as the late 1990s for The Washington Post...but that was by and large a soft core sports audience...I know this is going to be a much more hard core group. I'm looking forward to doing these regularly, and with no further ado here goes: Bill, thank you! Simmons and I have become much better acquainted with each other in the last couple of years, as 1) I read his volumnious work on professional basketball 2) He has started subbing for Tony and/or me on PTI. I can promise you I will not be writing 2,500-work columns; that is Bill's special domain. But I love Bill's work, particularly the stuff on basketball and I'm sure we'll have our back-and-forth moments if for no other reason...just because.

Ryan (Lehi, UT)

Hi Mike,Just wanted to let you know I've been watching PTI for about 7 years now, and watch it almost every night with my 4 year old girl, have been since she was born. Her favorite segment is heads on sticks!

Mike Wilbon
  (1:44 PM)

Heads-on-sticks is our Wednesday game for the most part. It's probably Kornheiser's favorite game (I like Toss Up better) because it allows him to be subversive and he still imagines himself as a 1960s radical...I am amazed at how copied heads-on-sticks is on so many TV shows...I'm not looking for credit, but for the record a producer named Erik Rydholm came up with it more than 9 years ago. Others do NOT get credit. It's like people thinking LeBron James came up with the talc tossing thing at the scorer's table. He didn't. Michael Jordan did it every game at the old Chicago Stadium and the United Center for years and years. When Jordan started doing that LeBron was barely born.

Kevin (Chicago)

Just read your column, "Let the reader beware" and I wanted you to know that Leon's on 83rd is no longer open. Try Uncle John's on 69th & Calumet.

Mike Wilbon
  (1:50 PM)

Leon's is CLOSED! When the hell did that happen? My goodness. After I had a heart attack, Doc Rivers told me I was specifically banned fromm Leon's. He said nothing about Lem's, but that's another story...(Side note: if you think these chats are going to be heavy on Xs and Os and ranking of the 2011 small forwards in high school, sorry, it won't be. Oh, there will be plenty of sports, but plenty of other stuff, too, like music, and TV and movies, and just personal back-and-forth that promotes arguing. Can you tell from PTI I like arguing? So, if you're looking for a breakdown of the Jets' errors on special teams, turn the channel now.) Uncle John's? I never heard of Uncle John's! You're serious about Leon's, I take it...or are you an agent of Doc's who simply thinks I still shouldn't be eating ribs slobbered in sauce, not to mention the fries and grape soda?

Bronx, NY [via mobile]

Do you think the Jets will make a Super Bowl run?

Mike Wilbon
  (1:53 PM)

You're asking be about a Super Bowl run after your team got its rump kicked like that? Are you serious? The short and easy answer is, of course not. Look, the Jets could be well served by that beat down, if they now rededicate themselves to the final four weeks of the seasonn. They've got time to recover and make a dent in the playoffs. But I think we're looking at Patriots-Steelers again for the late action in the AFC. You really think the Jets could now go to New England (since the game would almost certainly be in Foxboro) and beat the Patriots in a playoff game? I can't see that, not after Monday Night...

Carl (Boston, MA)

Who's side are you on, Mike Shannahan or ALbert Haynesworth?

Mike Wilbon
  (1:57 PM)

Well, you can't be on Haynesworth's just can't be. You listen to the guys in that locker room and all indications are the majority of the guys in the room on the defensive side think he's a selfish bum. HOWEVER...the Redskins are the last club you'd give the benefit of the doubt because it's been dysfunctional for the last 11 years. There's ALWAYS something stupid and melodramatic going on with the Redskins. Shanahan could have gotten rid of Haynesworth in August. Hell, it's four months later and we're still talking about whether he will play or not? If you think he's a rule-violating load, get him out. If you think he can play, play him. I know this: the Bears loved it every single time the Redskins took Haynesworth off the field because they KNEW they couldn't block him. He was killing the Bears, but that was secondary to the Redskins...who always seemm to have some agenda. Shananan is a terrific coach, but allowing this issue to hijack the team is insane. So, to answer your question, I'm on nobody's side on this..

Jake (Irving, TX)

why do you think NFL tv ratings are up but NASCAR ratings tanked 25% with an estimated 2 million viewers abandoning NASCAR?

Mike Wilbon
  (2:00 PM)

Great question. I've been asking people this for personal reasons. Just when I started to watch more NASCAR the ratings started falling through the floor. Maybe the audience that tuned in when the ratings jumped were people the sport couldn't hold onto. They sampled it and didn't like it, and now we're back down to the core audience that was fanatic in the first place. That's what I've been told. Look, tennis at one point drew huge audiences on television, but not so much now. Golf only does if Tiger is in contention. All these things are very, very iffy. Maybe NASCAR is a niche sport, but a really big niche...but isn't going to have that mass appeal we thought five, six, eight years ago.

eric fremont michigan [via mobile]

What is your all time top five nba players?

Mike Wilbon
  (2:04 PM)

Top 5? Wow, that's difficult. Russell, Kareem and Bird would be my front line. Jordan and Magic in the backcourt. The guy with the fewest rings would be Bird with three. Oscar would be my 6th man. Wilt 7th. Kobe my first shooter off the bench for instant offense. yes, I think I have Kobe sneaking into the top 10. I'm not entirely comfortable with that, but...

Ryan (Evanston)

Is next year THE year for Northwestern? No Ohio State, No Wisconsin, fairly easy non-conference slate (@BC the hardest to open up). Plus Michigan, Penn State and MSU are all at home. At Nebraska will be the toughest test. What do you expect them to do? (Assuming Persa's healthy)

Mike Wilbon
  (2:06 PM)

If you can assure me that Persa is 100 percent after that achilles surgery, then I'll be VERY excited. Obviously, Watkins is better off for having played a couple of games and won't be a complete neophyte if he has to play. Look, I'm an alum...I love Fitz. I want this to all be good. And it can be. But can I just get the Cats into the NCAA Tournament before I start obsessing over football?

Scott (Vernon Hills, IL)

Where does Jay Cutler's career go from here?

Mike Wilbon
  (2:10 PM)

Is he going to play like he has the last few weeks, where he doesn't just heave it to guys in the other jersey? Or is he going to try and squeeze passes in impossible places because he's so incredibly arrogant about his arm strength? Cutler has all the skills to be a fabulous QB, which is why the Bears traded so much to get him and why Shanahan before that put him on the field and envisioned a new franchise QB in Denver. BUT, it's up to him. Cutler was soooooo good against Philly. And look, I know the offensive line is challenged and the Bears don't have a big back (which they desperately need). But Martz and Cutler can figure out a way to reduce risk and simply be good. Eliminate the risk and the Bears defense and special teams can carry them a long way (a lot longer way than I thought because I didn't have them making the playoffs in Sept.)...I can't wait to see how Cutler plays against the Patriots this weekend, against that Jets defense which should have recovered from their recent beatdown, and in Green Bay.

TJ (Lincoln)

How can you dog Tony for his lack of hip-ness when you like Celine Dion and Kenny G???

Mike Wilbon
  (2:13 PM)

Dude, I'm not hip...and don't try to be. But you have no idea of Tony's lack of hipness. He's pathetic. He just got e-mail about a week ago. He's still wearing Bass weejuns. Sorry, Tony is Hip-challenged. And yes, I love Celine and Kenny G...and Marvin Gaye and Stevie and Prince and Elton John and Snoop and Fiddy and Eminem and John Legend and Earth, Wind & Fire and Chicago and Sinatra and Nat King Cole...You want to try and categorize that?

Matt (Wayne, PA)

The Cam Newton situation troubles me. How can we give the Heisman and a spot in the National Championship to someone who has practically been caught cheating?

Mike Wilbon
  (2:16 PM)

We don't "practically" catch people breaking rules or the law, we CATCH them...or shut up until they've been caught. You ever hear prosecutors arguing before the court, "I ALMOST have evidence. Really, I do." Sorry

Josh (Vermont)

Is it in the realm of possibility that Carmelo Anthony goes to Chicago, and if so do they become a contender?

Mike Wilbon
  (2:19 PM)

I was obsessed with this possibility a month ago. Now? Not so much. After watching Carlos Boozer score 25 and 29 the last two games and grab a toal of 21 rebounds, and after watching Taj Gibson come off the bench, and Luol Deng look like a suitable third option on offense...I don't want to give up a bunch of stuff for Carmelo anymore. Let this play out a bit. I don't even know if the two sides have talked lately...I tell you who I'd LOVE to see in the Bulls lineup at 2-guard: Rip Hamilton! He doesn't NEED the ball all the time. He disrupts NOTHING. I realize he's got about a $12 or $13 million price tag, but he'd be a GREAT fit, it seems to me. And what, the Pistons need him and his salary at this point?

Ryan (Mt. Pleasant, MI)

Wilbon, you and Tony are one of the few shows I will constantly watch, but getting to my question, you said the Cubs are cursed, you think the Detroit Lions are as well?

Mike Wilbon
  (2:22 PM)

Of course, the Lions are cursed...with incompetence. I don't think there is the weight of expectations. Who expects them to do anything? I tell you this: If the QB can ever stay healthy, I like most of the pieces the Lions have acquired through the draft. I like Stafford, too, but he's hurt all the time, it seems. I'm kinda vested in the Lions not being too good because I'm a Bears fan...but Suh, to me, is a combination of Reggie White and Dick Butkus. If there was any defensive player in the league I could cherry pick, it would be Suh...Okay, I have to run and prepare for PTI. Steve Young is our guest and he has to tape the segment earlier than I thought. I'll do these all the time, promise, meaning probably once a week on a very regular schedule...I appreciate you guys taking the time to engage and look forward to doing it soon, like early next week. I'm sure the exact day and time will be posted. Until then, have a great week.

Eric S. (Scottsdale, AZ)

Does Jeter have the right to be angry after being overpaid?

Mike Wilbon
  (2:24 PM)

He has the right to be angry that the club he has served so well has executives who went public, unnecessarily, with negotiating threats. Hell yes. I screamed about that last week before he signed. Why embarass the guy? Becuase you don't want to pay him the money? Then don't pay him the money. It was bush league.


The Mavs are riding high on a 10 game winning streak. Does this years Mavericks stand a realistic chance of winning it all?

Mike Wilbon
  (2:25 PM)

Am I going to take Dallas in a 7-game series with the Lakers? No. The Spurs? No. Sorry. I love Jason Kidd and Dirk and Jason Terry, but I can't see them beating one of those two to reach the Finals.

Patrick (Arkansas)

Do you believe that the Spurs are a legit threat to the Lakers' chances at a three peat???

Mike Wilbon
  (2:25 PM)

Yes, the Spurs when they're good like this are ALWAYS a threat to the Lakers or to anybody else. yes.

  (3:39 PM)

Thanks, Mike! And thanks to everyone for sending questions! Mike will be back for another chat soon! Take care!