Print and Go Back ESPN: SportsNation

January 3, 1:00 PM ET
Chat with Michael Wilbon

Kathy (Raleigh)

The best matchup this weekend seems to be Packers @ Eagles. How much do the Packers have left having 2 win and in playoff games the last 2 weeks? And should the Eagles be worried about just being 4-4 at home this season?

Mike Wilbon
  (1:11 PM)

Hello and Happy New Year everybody! We'll jump right into a number of subjects, but I have to start with the NFL, given the playoff matchups being set and so many head coaches heading for the unemployment line...or more likely television studios...And yes, I agree with you that the best matchup of the weekend is Packers at Eagles because they might be the two favorites to win the conference, yet one has to go immediately. I really do think they're the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the NFC, and I'm not certain of the order. We've seen teams, like the Steelers a few years ago, get hot at the end of the season and keep the momentum going. Once upon a time the teams with the bye-week dominated, but not so much lately. REmember, just two years ago the Cardinals were a wild-card team that went to Carolina and won when the Panthers were heavily favored. I think the Packers have plenty left; the question is whether they can stop Vick and Jackson and McCoy on a fast track in Philly...I think a rested Vick rates a slight edge and I wonder about the Packers running game, which comes into play more in colder weather...But to call a Packers win an upset would be, well, silly. They're two evenly matched teams and remember, the Packers won in Philly in the season opener, but Mr. Vick was holding a clipboard that day, not the football...

Brian (Michigan)

Is Ndamukong Suh the favor to win Rookie of the Year in the NFL?

Mike Wilbon
  (1:14 PM)

Over Sam Bradford? No. When a rookie starts at QB and does as well as Bradford, for a team totally on the rebuild, and he takes every single snap and keeps his team in playoff contention (even in a division as stinky as the NFC West) then he almost automatically is the heavy fave for rookie-of-the-year...As I say that, let me admit that if I was drafting from all the first- and second-year players in the NFL today, I'm pretty sure I'd take Suh with the first pick. He, quite simply, is a beast...an unblockable force of nature who reminds me of a young Reggie White...which is going to be bad news for offenses everywhere over the next dozen years...

Tony (Chicago)

Any chance the Bulls upgrade at SG? Keith Bogans may possibly be the worst starter in the entire NBA. I would love Rip Hamilton, but that seems impossible given his Contract. Maybe someone like Courtney Lee is available.

Mike Wilbon
  (1:23 PM)

As a lifelong Bulls fan, I'd like to see Rip Hamilton starting alongside D. Rose, too. I don't see it happening because Mr. Rip is making approx. $13 million..One would think the Pistons would be agreeable to dealing Rip since they've also got Ben Gordon (making, what, $11 million or something close to that?) and because the Pistons are awful and should be building for the future...But there are probably cheaper alternatives, in terms of salary, even though the players would demand more in trade compensation. O.J. Mayo's name came up back a couple of weeks ago when he began coming off the bench. J.R. Smith's name has come up and he's become expendable since Aaron Afflalo has emerged as a reliable starter at the same position...I like the suggestion of Courtney Lee, a guy who doesn't hog the ball, who is 6-5 and can play defense and has been to the Finals before (with Orlando two years ago)...But Rip, purely in terms of basketball, seems like he'd be such a great fit. Talk about not needing to pound the ball. He cathes it coming off screens and it's gone. Or he finds those spots 19 feet away on the baselines, and it's gone. Poof. The Bulls, it seems to me anyway, wouldn't have to re-work everything they do offensively for Rip to get his touches. He's not needy on offense...And while he's not the defender that Mayo is or Courtney Lee is, he played on a defense-first team and he wears a championship ring...The Bulls have enough youngsters. Old guys get it done in the NBA Playoffs. (Look at the Celtics and Lakers)...A veteran who knows what he's doing, to me, would pull the Bulls even with Orlando and leave them with a chance in a series with Miami...not favored, mind you, but a chance. As the Bulls roster is now, they're sorely lacking a proven shooter and they'd be at a huge, huge disasdvantage in the second round of the playoffs against either Boston or Miami...I know the Bulls have won 13 of 15 and have run off these last few without Jokim Noah, but in the big picture they've got a hole in their lineup they've got to address to contend this spring.

Aaron (Dallas)

Go Spurs Go! Think they can get close to 70+ wins?

Mike Wilbon
  (1:26 PM)

I can't imagine Gregg Popovich, a coach with big picture perspective on just about everything, would push his team to win 70 when that would almost certainly jeopardize a run in the playoffs. Even though the Spurs now have young players-on-the-rise, like Gary Neal, they still depend on Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker, who have more miles on them than a 1999 mini-van. Right now, the Spurs look like the favorites in the Western Conference...I think winning a fifth NBA Championship would satisfy Pop more than wearing out his veteran players going for 70...

Chris (Philly)

Michael, what's your take on the Obama statement about Vick? What has Vick done that's so commendable other that resisting the urge kill dogs?

Mike Wilbon
  (1:29 PM)

Well, if he has that urge still (which you couldn't possibly know) then resisting it would be a great place to start. I'm not in the camp that says Vick shouldn't be able to play football. I do believe the crimes he committed were heinous, but I believe other players over time have committed serious crimes, some involving physically abusing women, and they were allowed to come back and play in whatever leagues and there wasn't nearly the outcry there should have been...Vick has played fabulously. He was found guilty of a crime and did the jail time to prove it, which was good. I'm not interested in imposing some personal prison on him, but if you are, I suppose that's okay.

Chioke Hassan (Baltimore,Md)

Dear MichealCould you see NCAA Football have a Minority Clause like in the NFL?

Mike Wilbon
  (1:33 PM)

Good question. No, I don't. Big-time college football programs are subject to almost no rules. Their boosters, in a great many cases, hold more influence than the president of the school. The "searches" for coaches aren't subject to any authority inside or outside the university community. The "Rooney Rule" to which you refer is something that the NFL, with the approval of its member club owners, imposed on itself, so as to fairly address hiring issues. The NCAA schools have no such interests, by and large, and no such concerns. They'll tell you everything is okay as it is. Change, my friend, is a dirty six-letter word to the people who lord over big-time college football...unless is lines their pockets, and sometimes even then...

Amara Fofana (Milwaukee, WI)

Is Orlando with its new additions the most dangerous team in the East or is Miami still the only team that can dethrone Celtics? FYI I watch PTI everyday best show ever on sports period...shout out too Kornheiser.

Mike Wilbon
  (1:37 PM)

It could wind up that the healthiest team in the Eastern Conference is the team to beat. The Celtics, imposing as they've been, need Rondo and KG and everybody else in that top 9 to be healthy. Yes, that includes Shaq and Big Baby, and of course Pierce and Allen...Nate Washington, too...Same, obviously, for Miami which doesn't have the depth Boston does. Orlando is an interesting case because the Magic thought going into the Holiday run that another move was necessary, to bring in a big who could help Dwight Howard...but they ran off some wins, including the Christmas Day beating of the Celtics, and suddenly, you look at them and think, "Wow, they're a new version of the same team that reached the finals two years ago, just more athletic with Arenas and J-Rich...BUT, in the playoffs when fast-break basketball become a slow dance (as the Suns), you have to rebound, you have to have size...and Orlando has none. NONE. I don't know if that lineup, in a seven-game series, can beat the Bulls, much less Boston. So, I think Otis Smith will go back to the bat phone and make a deal for some size in the next month...He has to...

Baylor (Portland)

Last week on 1st and 10 Skip Bayless and Herm Edwards both agreed right now D Wade is a better basketball player than Lebron. Who do you think is the better player and who do you think will be the go to guy in the playoffs?

Mike Wilbon
  (1:40 PM)

LeBron is a better all-around basketball player but if you ask me who I want in the final two minutes of a game my answer is D-Wade. And that's precisely what makes Miami so damn good...and why there might not be anybody in the league who can beat them. They've clearly got the best one-two punch in the league and while Chris Bosh might not be the best No. 3 player in the league (Kevin Garnett is a No. 3 right now, behind Rondo and Pierce, right? And Lamar Odom is a No. 3 as well) he's way, way up toward the top of the list of those who'll be in the playoffs...But Wade-LeBron, if healthy, will be very, very difficult to throw out of the playoffs.

chris youhanna (Newport Beach (CA))

I think the wear and tear of the last 4 seasons is catching up with the Lakers mentally. I'm not concerned so much about home court as I am the horrible habits they develop. This team would be unbeatable if they actually ran the triangle and player hard defense.

Mike Wilbon
  (1:45 PM)

The Lakers are awful right now. I'm betting most of you (outside SoCal, anyway) didn't see that beatdown administered by Memphis last night. It was stunning to see the Lakers starters just get run over like that. Thing is, you listen to the explanations from Phil/Kobe/D-Fish/Pau/Lamar and they're all different, which means they're not even set on what's wrong or how to fix it...Yes, wear and tear does that, to some degree. You just get weary. Kobe told me last month his primary responsibility is figuring out how to get the team up for a Tuesday night game in the middle of December or January, and he's ON THE MONEY with that. I remember Michael Jordan saying something almost identical in 1998 when the Bulls were going after a sixth title. It's hard. And Kobe's game will undergo a necessary transition as he gets older, which is, um, right now. He'll figure it out, as Jordan did...But the Lakers might have to get their butts whipped a few more times before they come out angry on those blah Tuesday nights in January/February. Sometimes, the champ has to take a shot in the chops before getting fed up. I expect the Lakers to snap out of this, but I don't know that they're equipped right now, to beat the Spurs...I don't think ANY of us would have thought that six weeks ago, but now is now.

John ((Bronx N.Y.))

mike the new york giants are better with tom coughlin or without him?

Mike Wilbon
  (1:46 PM)

Didn't they win a title WITH Coughlin coaching them? They won 10 games this year...Okay, they've gotten sloppy at the end of the last two seasons...I think that's fixable...I wouldn't fire Coughlin and essentially bet I could find another guy who's better...

Pete (MSG)

What do you think... when all is said and done is Melo a knick in NYC with amare? They would be a scary duo to check...

Mike Wilbon
  (1:49 PM)

I think so, yes. But if I'm the Knicks I'd wait until next year and sign Carmelo to whatever the new max deal is...I wouldn't trade away all my assets now because that wouldn't allow me to beat Boston or Miami this year anyway. If I could convince Carmelo to play out the string in Denver (which I know, is tampering, but don't act like it doesn't happen because it does; that's what agents are for) and then come join a full compliment of players in NYC for a five-year run of head knocking with Miami/Chicago/Orlando (Boston will have to re-tool soon) and a reasonable chance at multiple-championships...

Matt (Chicago)

Nate Washington plays for the Titans, not the Celtics... I believe you meant Nate Robinson.

Mike Wilbon
  (1:49 PM)

Ha! I did indeed...thanks for the editing.

stephanie (cincy)

Micheal, boosters are wanna be jocks. The real power in college is the trustee's. They hire and can fire presidents, so they have quite a bit more influence than a local car salesman who was cut from his HS FB team

Mike Wilbon
  (1:50 PM)

Stephanie...I am a trustee...at Northwestern University...so I know that already...But don't you think most Boards are chock full of boosters? Trust me, the most important boosters at any school are already on the Board.

Bolutife (Nigeria)

Three Questions Mike...1. Can the colts seriously make a playoff run given that the only two teams they need to worry about in the AFC are the Steelers and Patriots and they can conceivably beat those two teams.2. Can the spurs maintain the momentum they have all the way to the finals and will there be a major fall back.3. If you know anything about soccer, what are the chances Arsenal wins the FA Cup

Mike Wilbon
  (1:53 PM)

We just dealt with the Spurs. I'm in zero mood to talk soccer today, so let's deal with the Colts...Why are you so certain (it sounds like it anyway) that Indy will beat the Jets? I'll take Indy, yes, but with certainty? I think the pecking order is Patriots, Steelers, Colts, yes. But it's not like the Ravens can't pop up and beat anybody in the conference? Yet, I'm not sure the Ravens can beat the Chiefs. I think it's a difficult road in the AFC. I'll take the Patriots as a heavy favorite...Every other matchup in the AFC to me is a pick-'em...The Colts are simply missing too many veteran players, Pro Bowlers in several cases, to see them as automatic.

John (michigan)

Hello Mike! I'm a huge fan of yours! Is it safe to say Lebron James is finally the best basketball in the world cause of Kobe's recent struggles?

Mike Wilbon
  (1:57 PM)

Maybe...Maybe...Is he the MVP in the league this year to this point, though? I don't know. Wade has to get as many votes as LeBron. I think I'd cast my vote, to this point, for D. Rose of the Bulls. Manu Ginobili would be up there as well...I think we have to see how this plays out, who carries Miami through important games and the most important stretches of those games...Maybe they'll win by such margins nobody will have to...Kobe is going to come back to earth simply because of age and mileage; it's happening now. But as Jordan did in his mid-30s, Kobe can reconfigure his game and possibly have the same impact as he did as a high-flyer...Kobe's not handing over that baton...

Mario (Miami, FL)

Every year for the past decade, an NFL team that wasnt in the playoffs the prior year makes the cut, which of the newbies have a best chance to play in February?

Mike Wilbon
  (2:00 PM)

Great question...Well, the Chiefs are really a newbie, aren't they? I don't want to rule them out, though they would be such a huge underdog in a matchup with the Patriots...Do the Bears count as a newbie? They haven't been in the playoffs since 2006, so they are, right? Certainly, I'm not going to go with Seattle here...If the Packers beat the Eagles, I'll go with the Bears beating the Saints at home, then the Falcons in Atlanta...I could see that, though it calls for Jay Cutler to hold himself to one interception per game and I don't know if I can see that.

Mical (Austin )

What kind of impact can John Elway have as VP of Football Operations. Doesn't his title automatically rule out control freaks like Cower and Gruden?

Mike Wilbon
  (2:06 PM)

Love this! I would hope so. It appears owner Pat Bowlen, who has a relationship with Elway that now approaches 30 years, feels he hasn't done the best job the last four, five years. Denver has become irrelevant, which is sad given the importance of that franchise to the region and the league. Early word is Elway, a proud Stanford alum, isn't going to just look the other way while Mr. Harbaugh, still as of this moment the Stanford coach, goes to the Niners or Carolina or someplace else. All 3 of those NFL franchises are on the rebuild...Let's see how bold and how creative Elway is as an executive. There are a lot of guys I'd hire as head coach (Holmgren, Cower, Marvin Lewis, Harbaugh...the list is long) as long as they're working for a strong GM, like Bill Polian...M. Lewis is a perfect example of why I'd NEVER hire a man to do both jobs. Margin the GM undermined Marvin the coach by bringing in too many no character or low character players, guys you simply can't count on...Look how much better Holmgren was as purely a coach, once his GM duties had been stripped...All the best to John Elway, only the greatest QB of all-time...

will owen (new york)

Oregon or Auburn?

Mike Wilbon
  (2:06 PM)

Oregon...I think...

Jeremy (Atlanta)

As a Lifelong Bulls Fan I just want to know Why Cant DROSE be the best player in the NBA

Mike Wilbon
  (2:10 PM)

I don't know if he can be the best player in the NBA, but he can be the most valuable. I think, at the moment, he is that. To win the award, though, the Bulls would have to win right around 60 games and be within three or four games of the Celtics and Heat, which is going to be difficult...not impossible but difficult. The winner, I think will come from the east unless San Antonio wins 67 games, then Ginobili could be atop the leaderboard...But Rose is in the mix, and if he can play 80 games while Rondo has missed a few already it will count in his favor. But the Bulls can be no lower than the third seed and they have to be standing shoulder to shoulder with Miami and Boston...If Noah is back before the All-Star break...okay, I gotta run and prepare for PTI...we'll chat at the same time next week, hours before the BCS Championship game kickoff...Goodness, that's deep into January for college football...Have a great week everybody. MW