Print and Go Back ESPN: SportsNation

October 30, 1:30 PM ET
Chat with Michael Wilbon

  (1:10 PM)

Mike will be here at 1:30 ET for your questions!

mike wilbon
  (1:35 PM)

Hi Everybody...Baseball over, Basketball beginning...I'm not sure the average sports fan is all that excited over that, but I am, as a card-carrying basketball junkie...The league opens on TNT tonight with a double-header and we, ESPN/ABC, jump in Friday night with a double-header, including Lakers-Clippers...We'll get to the NFL in a second but I'll start with an NBA question...

David (Montreal)

Hey Wilbon, it seems every year the pool of teams in the NBA with an actual shot at winning the title shrinks. I know anything can happen in sports (hot streaks, injuries and so on), but my sense is that compared to some of the other professional sports, the NBA has a bit of an issue in terms of competitive balance. Just wondering what your take on this is, and what you think would be a good way to help combat this issue (hard salary cap, some form of a player franchise option, etc..)

mike wilbon
  (1:39 PM)

There are surely fewer serious contenders in the NBA than in the other professional sports. There's no question about that. I'd disagree with the assertion that the pool of contenders shrinks. It's always small. You can go back to the 70s and 80s, and find that there were no more than four or five teams that could really win, and usually only three teams. This season it would be stunning if the champ didn't come from a pool of three teams, Heat, Lakers, Thunder. That's it, that's the list. If I'm going to include a fourth team it's the Celtics...and it would take a lot considering how many players they'll have to incorporate...if we stretch our imaginations just a little, the total is 5, including San Antonio...but that's the outer limit...Each sport has a different rhyme and rhythm, and pro basketball's is largely about watching the best teams to see if they can actually be the best teams over the course of a year and how they navigate the league. It's not the NFL or MLB and doesn't need to be. I love the differences between them...

Alan (South Florida) [via mobile]

Mike, you hittin' up Prime 112 while you're in Miami?

mike wilbon
  (1:44 PM)

I was in and am already out. Goodness, Miami was beautiful yesterday. I went down, as many of you already know, to have an on-camera conversation with LeBron James which is airing now and will air in a bigger chunk later tonight on SportsCenter, and was able to spend some good time talking/listening to the Celtics and Heat players and coaches...Look, I've spent a lot of time in Miami over the last 25 years; my parents and other family members retired there more than 20 years ago...And I've probably had more meals at Prime 112 than anyplace in South Florida and unless Myles throws me out, that's my place. Joe's is great, and Tony K. would eat every meal there if he ever left his house anymore to go to South Florida. But Prime 112 is for me. I'd rather go there than just about anywhere...and that extends to more than Miami...

Brian (New Orleans)

I'm partially rooting for LSU against Alabama to change things up. If LSU wins, will this be the year to break the streak of a SEC team being in the national championship game?

mike wilbon
  (1:46 PM)

Maybe, but maybe not. The voters aren't going to drop Alabama below 6th or 7th even if they lost at LSU, which means Alabama could climb back into contention by winning the SEC title game...And while I realize how difficult it is to go and win a game in Baton Rouge (I think it's the most difficult place to play a road game in the country) I just don't see LSU, which is a one-dimensional team, beating Alabama, even with home-field advantage. Possible, yes. Probably? I can't see it. So, I still think we're looking at Alabama and a challenger, Oregon, Notre Dame or K-State.

Darren (Milwaukee, WI)

Mike, I get how you're more "old school" than "new school" when it comes to stats, but why are you often so dismissive of people who are trying to analyze sports in new and different ways? Rather than calling it all "junk", doesn't it make more sense to acknowledge that sometimes our eyes lie to us and we can benefit from having more information available?

mike wilbon
  (1:48 PM)

Does it make sense for you to acknowledge that sometimes stats lie...or more important than "lie" that they don't explain everything. There's no metric to tell you how a 76-yard run on 3rd-and-six late in a game demoralizes a defense or how much it lifts the team that scores...there's no metric to measure leadership or emotional steadiness. So, different strokes for different folks.

Matt (DC)

Has your already illogic defense of Miguel Cabrera changed in any way after seeing his rather lackluster postseason performance; specifically, his poor defense and "unclutch" hitting, if there is such a thing?

mike wilbon
  (1:49 PM)

The first thing you ought to do is know enough about the topic to make a believable argument. ALL regular season awards are confined to regular season exploits. So how would the post-season performance have any bearing. The votes were already cast. Before you shoot off your mouth, have some accurate idea of the rules and what is pertinent.

Jimmy (KC)

Who gets fired for this debacle of a Chiefs season first - Pioli or Crennel?

mike wilbon
  (1:50 PM)

Very possibly both.

Derrin (Plano, TX)

Is Dez Bryant on the verge of being a lost cause, and major bust?

mike wilbon
  (1:51 PM)

Both...Although he made one helluva catch, didn't he? I know that some coaches are blinded by his talent. He just doesn't seem dependable, does he? Then again, neither is the coach of that outfit...and sometimes, though I like him a lot, neither is the QB.

@MikeWilbonSaid (L.A.)

When will your self-exile from social media end?

mike wilbon
  (1:53 PM)

I think with the NBA season starting tonight, it should be, well, tonight. I do cover the sport for ESPN/ABC and my bosses expect me to interact. So maybe tonight...Though, if I can't control myself and play nice I'll ban myself for good and the bosses will just have to understand...We'll see...I'm not all that confident, to tell you the truth. I didn't get into this business or have any success in it by being a shrinking violet. I know, it's a new and fine line I'm expected to walk...I just don't know that I can...or even want to...We'll see. The first thing I'll have to navigate is the people baiting me on Twitter to do something stupid.

Joe (Colorado) [via mobile]

What to think of knucklehead Bryant McKinney being sued for a $400,000 debt at a strip club?

mike wilbon
  (1:54 PM)

I don't...And why would you? Like there isn't enough stuff to occupy your mind during the day/night. That's not in my top 100,000 things to consider.

Eric (Sacramento)

Mike, I LOVE your work. Before the days of the internet, I used to go into my local bookstore and buy the WaPo just to read guys like you, Tony K., Tom B., etc...Having said that, can you please tell me why Jason Garrett isn't being excoriated by the national media? He has SINGLEHANDEDLY cost the Cowboys 6-8 games in his brief tenure. With Atlanta looming this weekend, do you think the Cowboys can turn the season around?

mike wilbon
  (1:56 PM)

First, thanks. Second, isn't he being ripped to shreds? I think he is...But I will say this, addressing your observation: The national media, particular many of the people covering pro football, don't criticize coaches as much as media covering the other sports. NFL coaches, except when they do something egregiously stupid, skate on a lot of stuff. So many of the people covering the sport obsess over the mistakes players make, on and off the field, and accept whatever coaches say as gospel...BUT, I think Garrett is catching hell, should, and will probably continue to...His judgement has been awful, over a slew of games in multiple seasons.

Kris G (Indy)

And thank you for not caring about idiotic updates in the life drama of sports figures (a la McKinnie and the strip club debt). That kind of information isn't reporting it is being nosy. Who cares?

mike wilbon
  (1:57 PM)

Thanks...That's sort of my feeling. I didn't mean to be too flip with the person asking the question...I just don't care...

CC (Atlanta)

Michael Vick -- coach killer. This cannot be refuted, right? For Andy Reid to fire the DC of his #12 ranked defense yet seemingly insulate the real problem (Vick), he has lost the team. How can Reid justify his rationale?

mike wilbon
  (1:58 PM)

He can't...And, look, I'm reluctant to go after Andy Reid as hard as I might because of the tragedy he's still reeling from...But firing the DC is just one example of the coach's bad judgment in recent years. He was a terrific coach for a long, long time...Not anymore...

Alex (OH)

Is there any question that NBA players are the best all around athletes in the world?

mike wilbon
  (2:00 PM)

Well, there's always a question. There are some soccer players who fit the bill, some football players (The Saints Jimmy Graham)...I think the combination of speed, explosion, balance, hand-eye coordination, etc. qualifies more basketball players than any other sport...but it ain't exclusive.

Brian (PA)

Opinions on the 76ers this year? Is a return to the Eastern semis realistic? And can Andrew Bynam be the star he wasn't allowed to be in LA?

mike wilbon
  (2:03 PM)

It's gonna be hard. The Eastern Conference has some improved teams...The Nets seem to me to be at least as good as the 76ers. The Pacers ought to be marginally better...I have to say I'd pick the Heat, Celtics, Nets and Pacers to be my four semifinalists in the East...though I wouldn't dare rule out Philly if Bynum can play 70 games, at least, and play with the kind of pressure Kobe insulated him from largely in Los Angeles.

Kris G (Indy)

I hope you and yours are well and surviving the battering storm. I am a long-standing T-Wolves fan (since their inception), and I was extremely excited for this season. Now, I am filled with dread because of the injuries to our two stars. If they both comeback healthy and with little regression, how reasonable is the playoffs, and more importantly will the team be fun to watch before they come back?

mike wilbon
  (2:04 PM)

Aren't they each gonna miss about 20 games? That's one-quarter of the season in which they figure to go, what, 7-13 or something like that? I don't see a playoff run this year for the Wolves. Now, if your two big guns were there from Day 1 or at least after five or six games I'd feel differently...but it's hard to see that now.

Ryan (San Jose)

Hi Michael, i have been as critical as anyone of Notre Dame, playing a soft schedule and not really being that good, but after the Oklahoma win are they serious national title game contenders?

mike wilbon
  (2:06 PM)

Notre Dame does NOT play a soft schedule. The Irish play everybody...Now, if a couple of teams on their schedule have down years, you can't hold Notre Dame responsible for that. Hell, Notre Dame can't recruit for Michigan State and Purdue or whomever. Notre Dame plays a murderous schedule...If they beat USC to go undefeated I have ZERO problem with them playing in the national championship game, even though we're all being told Oregon will be the "other" team if both go undefeated...

Justin (Denver)

Mike, do you think the Nuggets model is something that can be viable in the playoffs? Or will they be relegated to a team that is different enough in the regular season to win 50+ games?

mike wilbon
  (2:08 PM)

I believe in George Karl. I like the addition of Andre I. I like Wilson Chandler and Iggy on the court together, all that athleticism and defensive ability. I could see Denver being joining the Thunder/Lakers/Spurs as a top four team in the West. Do I see them beating the Lakers or Thunder this post-season? No...not unless OKC's chemistry goes bad because of the Harden deal, but that's a stretch.

Randy (Utah)

Hey Mr. Wilbon, Love your chats. Love your honesty and love that you aren't afraid to rebuke a fan. I look forward to your chats each week. Last week, a question came through and I could tell it exhausted you. You mentioned that it is questions like that which cause you not want to do chats. As frustrating as it is, and I am sure you get many nasty comments, focus on the many who really enjoy what you provide us fans. Thanks for all you provide to us, overly enthusiastic to the point of sometimes losing common sense, sports fans. Oh, and lest I forget, go Jazz! I think they might be a better team this year than they were last year.

mike wilbon
  (2:12 PM)

Thank you for that. You just gave me a shot of energy and a little optimism. More than a few people have told me to just ignore the instigators and posers and focus on all the folks who just want to engage in legit conversation and I KNOW YOU ARE ALL RIGHT! Intellectually, I know it. But I seem to be the Monty of media...and it's stupid and counterproductive, to want to just attack the knuckleheads...We'll see...Temper, temper!

Roy (SF)

Please discuss Buster Posey and his amazing career start. 2 WS Rings, Rookie of the Year, Comeback Player of the Year, probable NL MVP, and a batting title while catching one of the most difficult staffs in the league and gunning runners out left and right. Will he go down as the best catcher ever when its all said and done?

mike wilbon
  (2:15 PM)

Let's not project wildly after a couple of seasons. Let's just say he's an amazing player, the best in the game today. But didn't people have Joe Mauer being that a few years ago? I'm old enough to have seen the entire careers of Johnny Bench and Carlton Fisk, and more recently Pudge Rodriguez...I'm not giving anybody best-ever consideration after, what, three seasons? He's a stud and the most important position in baseball and if I was a Giants fan I'd be giddy over not just a second World Series title in three years but over having Posey...I'm just not in a rush to proclaim people all-time greats three years in. There's time, if he stays healthy and just as productive...I hope so, it'll be a helluva thing to watch.

dan (chevy chase)

MW, thanks for doing this. Normally love Lovie Smith, but one play from the Bears game stood out. Panthers had just recovered Cutler's fumble at like the 45 yard line with 10 seconds left in half and no timeouts. Somehow, steve smith was completely wide open for a quick out and got the ball to the 32. Luckily they went for half mary, but that SHOULD HAVE COST US 3 points. Thoughts?

mike wilbon
  (2:19 PM)

yeah, I'm with you on that. I don't know about Lovie on gameday...I don't know that he's anymore than okay on Sundays...I do think that from Monday through Saturday he's one of the very best in the league. The Bears always seem ultra-prepared. they don't commit a lot of stupid penalties. they always seem properly motivated and smart about the opponent...I attribute that to coaching...I love his calm and evenness, even if folks in my business like to make fun of that trait...I think it serves the team well...But there are some gameday things Lovie does or doesn't do that seem strange. Still, overwhelmingly I think he's a terrific coach...

Joel (Chapel Hill)

What advice did you give Simmons for the transition to TV on a regular basis?

mike wilbon
  (2:22 PM)

I haven't...I don't know that there is pertinent advice I could give Bill...I think he'll be fine with repetition. Hell, "reps" aren't just for people in sports. You need to find a comfort level and can only do that, in my opinion, by doing something time after time after time after time...So, not a word of advice for me...I think Bill will be just fine...He's a smart man, clearly knows TONS about basketball...The more we get to pick at him, make him refine the cases he makes...he'll be good to go. Look at what a professional broadcaster Jalen Rose has made himself...Jalen and my man Jon Barry are as good as anybody anywhere...cause they're smart and did it every day and asked questions and care about what they're doing and want to get better just like they wanted to get better as players. Bill will be just fine...

Spencer (Atlanta)

Looking forward to your Lebron interview tonight. If you could interview one sports figure from history, who would it be?

mike wilbon
  (2:23 PM)

Great question. Either Muhammad Ali between 1965 and 1974 or Babe Ruth in 1927 or Jackie Robinson in 1950 or so, after he had some distance from breaking the color line in baseball...

mike wilbon
  (2:24 PM)

Okay, gotta run folks...Gotta get to the studio here in Chicago to do PTI...Yeah, looking forward to the NBA opening tonight, to seeing a game in person tomorrow (Bulls-Kings) and getting to Los Angeles for the ESPN season opening broadcast Friday...Hope you're all going to tune in...Thanks for chatting a day late...See you next week! MW