Print and Go Back ESPN: SportsNation

January 28, 1:45 PM ET
Chat with Michael Wilbon

Lewis (Flint Michigan)

Kobe looked like Magic with a jumpshot yesterday. He was a beast against the Thunder yesterday. How much better are the Lakers with him playing this way?

mike wilbon
  (2:02 PM)

Hi Everybody...w/ no football yesterday we'll jump right into the NBA, NCAA hoops, and yes, a little Super Bowl stuff...and since the Rondo talk is such a downer (we'll get to it in a second) Kobe's as good a place as any...he and Steve Nash plot and scheme after every single game to come up with something that will last, and the two of them have been doing it for weeks...This may be it. Kobe and Steve have essentially switched roles with Kobe becoming the primary playmaker and Nash playing off of Kobe...for two games it has looked brilliant...Kobe can manipulate a defense as well as anybody...The question, though, is how long the Lakers can sustain this particular strategy? They need to go something like a 25-5 run to really get in the thick of it...we'll see...But it HAS to be encouraging to the Lakers to have beaten OKC like that yesterday...

tdiddy (winnipeg) [via mobile]

Hello Mike. With Rondo out the rest of the year, do you see the Celts trading draft picks for gaurd help (Calderon or Lowrey from Toronto come to mind) or do they blow everything up and deal KG and Pierce for youth and draft picks and start anew?

mike wilbon
  (2:12 PM)

The Rondo injury was so depressing to me yesterday...He's the best player on the team...THE BEST..and I'm not one who thinks the Celtics can just keep marching on without him. It's not four years ago, or three years ago when Pierce or KG was the best player and Rondo was just a support guy....Nope. Rondo is The Man on that team. Rondo, with D Rose hurt, is the second best point guard in the league behind Chris Paul...How can the Celtics get Calderon away from Toronto before the trade deadline? By offering what? What do the Celtics have that Toronto would want, long-term besides draft picks? Thing is, are we sure Toronto and/or the Wizards can go on a sustained roll and catch the Celtics? I'm not. The Wizards, if they'd been awful for just 20 games, could catch Boston...but the Wiz were nowhere for 30 games and they're 9 or 10 back which is a lot to make up in half a season...Philly could do it, but it's not like Bynum is going to be a lock to come back and help lead the Sixers...I don't think the Celtics, WITH Rondo, were going to unseat Miami in the East but I just don't see how the Celtics can contend at all without him. The guy led the NBA in triple-doubles this year. People shouldn't underestimate how damn good Rondo has become...

WTE (Nashua, NH)

I'm a big Celtics fan and his injury stings but......Sometimes he holds the ball too long at the top of the key while his team mates just stand around, thus forcing Boston to force a shot w/ little time on the clock. Could a guy like Leandro Barbosa help change the Celtics offensive mentally and get them to start creating their offense a lot sooner on the shot clock?

mike wilbon
  (2:13 PM)

What? Leandro Barbosa? I loved Barbosa when he was the Suns' 6th man on the 7 Seconds or Less teams of the mid-oughts. But Barbosa might have fewer assists than any guard in the league the last eight years. You're asking if Barbosa can be a playmaker? Dwight Howard can replace Reggie Miller as a free throw shooter!

Eric (Chicago)

Wilbon, Woods leading/dominating/most likely going to win at Torrey Pines...indeed it's a story, but is it that big of a story in the golf world? He seems to play particularly well there but other courses seem to mess with his head throughout the season. Or, out from left field, he's playing well because of the hope of rekindling with Elin? Every angle must be explored.

mike wilbon
  (2:16 PM)

You raise a totally legit point as regard to Torrey Pines; I won't even entertain any of the Elin talk because nobody has any idea of that...but in terms of venues, even last season, when Tiger won three times, the courses he won were at Bay Hill, Congressional and Muirfield...places he LOVES and ALWAYS wins...I wonder if comfort level trumps everything else right now for Tiger...I want to see him win someplace where he has already won 4 times or whatever...

Joseph (Seattle, Wa)

Ponder this one the NBA all-star weekend; instead of the skills competition or possibly the now boring dunk contest, what if the NBA put in a 1 on 1 tournament between the 8 best players in the league

mike wilbon
  (2:16 PM)

You don't need to twist my arm! I'd love that...All-Star Weekend needs an renovation...

Josh (Chicago)

Love what I am seeing out of Jimmy Butler, tough minded kid who is not scared of the big moments. I had a good feeling that he could do what Brewer did for the Bulls by hustling and playing great D, but it has been a pleasant surprise to see how well he finishes at the rim and rebounds the ball. He seems to play a lot like Michael Kidd Gilchrist. Was wondering what you think of this comparison?

mike wilbon
  (2:22 PM)

I don't compare him to Gilchrist, but I love Butler because of all the reasons you state...There should be no more of Luol Deng, when he comes back from this hamstring injury, playing 46 minutes because Butler CAN PLAY...He's a much better athlete than Ronnie Brewer (who I liked a lot in his role with the Bulls)...I'd like to see a Rose/Butler backcourt, with Hinrich going to the bench...and Butler COULD play 40 minutes a night because he could get 30 mins at guard and 10 subbing for Deng at small forward...The big developments, to me, for the Bulls this season are Butler's evolution and Marco Bellineli's improvement since November as a scorer in clutch situations...

Nolen (Canada)

Rajon Rondo is out for the season with injury. Why was he still on the floor with the Celts up by 20 late in the game? Is Doc to blame for this one?

mike wilbon
  (2:23 PM)

What? THEY LOST THE GAME after being up 27 AND LOST THE GAME. Yo, wake up...Rondo was on the floor virtually the entire game, including those last minutes when the game went to double OT...

JJ (Seattle)

Do the King's become the Sonics? Or does Sacramento somehow keep them

mike wilbon
  (2:27 PM)

The Kings become the Sonics, yes. I don't see Sacramento keeping the Kings there, despite the really heart-felt efforts of Sacramento's mayor, Kevin Johnson, the former NBA All-Star...I've got mixed feelings about this because I LOVE just about everything about Seattle, and Seattle as a basketball town...but I also have thoroughly enjoyed watching the Kings play in Sacramento, especially the Chris Webber/Vlade Divac teams who were cheated out of a trip to the Finals in, I think, 2002...

Paul (Chicago)

The President of the United States comes out and says he would have to think long and hard about allowing his son (if he had one) to play football. Bernard Pollard said he doesn't see the NFL existing in 30 years. But the NFL is a money-making machine, and there is a constant stream of talent. What, if anything, would finally be the straw that broke the camel's back?

mike wilbon
  (2:36 PM)

There's no "final straw." There would be, in these scenarios, a gradual erosion...Malcolm Gladwell has written the same thing for years...I have a 5-year-old son who LOVES football...We throw the ball at 9 p.m. almost every night before he goes to bed and he talks about playing QB when he grows up...and I DO NOT want him to play organized football. I know too many recent former players who have serious concerns (not to mention, issues post-retirement), and I know too many team physicians who have serious concerns, and not just at the pro level, but about hits on players in high school, head injuries that kids suffer at a young age...So, to get back to the original question what happens to the football talent pool if parents, fearful as I am, start directing their kids to every other sport and keeping them out of football? My kid doesn't get to decide; I ain't running a Democracy...I take the temperature of the situation at the time and make a call...Well, forecast it out over 40 years if fewer and fewer young boys play football...what happens? Seriously? This is what happened to boxing. Once upon a time EVERYBODY wanted to be Heavyweight champion of the world...Now? Who? Nobody cares about boxing anymore and it used to be a cultural MUST...Football sure looks secure and out of danger now, but what if nobody figures out a way to stop these head injuries...

Rob (San Antonio)

The Pro Bowl is what is and while I only saw part of it I did like moments that brought some personality to it i.e. Jeff Saturday snapping to Peyton one more time. What are your thoughts?

mike wilbon
  (2:43 PM)

I don't watch the Pro Bowl and would only watch it if my kid played in it. I, unlike a gream many others who watch, find it useless...Of course, there are a lot of ACTIVE NFL PLAYERS who feel about it the way that I do. It has nothing for me. And apparently the people who spent good money for tickets but left the stadium half-empty the entire game feel the same way. BUT 8 million people watch, which is more than World Series games and NBA Finals games...I find it a complete and total waste of time and wouldn't turn off a re-run of Law & Order SVU that I'd already seen 8 times to watch it...Again, 8 million people watch so my sentiment isn't shared by everybody...but you asked me...

Larry (New Orleans)

Mike, since you're a big basketball guy, I wanted to get your thoughts on the Hornets name change to the Pelicans. I understand what it represents, but do you think it was the right move? Will Charlotte rebrand themselves as the Hornets?

mike wilbon
  (2:44 PM)

I don't like Pelicans, but it's not like New Orleans should be wed to "Hornets." For me it's just a yawner...

Jeremy (NYC)

Was watching the Knicks/Hawks game on a flight yesterday. Most of the flight was captivated and going crazy when Melo had it going. Is there anything like it when Melo catches fire. Who would the heat be more afraid of, a DRose led Bulls team or a Carmelo "I truly believe I'm as good as Lebron" Anthony led Knicks team.

mike wilbon
  (2:47 PM)

Really good question...They've beaten the Bulls in a series already, Eastern Conference Finals...and I can tell you they don't look at the Knicks and their 3-point shooting, as a huge threat...Now, if the Knicks can get Carmelo AND Amare going consistently and have much more inside play than they've had, THEN the knicks would be a bigger threat...

Rick (Kansas)

Have you watched any Jayhawk games this year? Are you sold on McLemore being drafted #1? If not, who?

mike wilbon
  (2:50 PM)

I have watched him, and like him, but I don't think ANYBODY is so good in college basketball this year that he should be called a "lock." I really like the kid Cody Zeller at Indiana quite a bit...but scouts are talking about how bad this draft is going to be at the top...we gotta see a lot more from McLemore and everybody else...

Keith H (Seattle)

Michael, not as a rooting interest, but as more likely to win: Who do you think will win the Super Bowl?

mike wilbon
  (2:52 PM)

I KNOW I have no idea who's going to win this game...And while I like the two teams involved and the matchups and the Harbaughs and Ray Lewis and blah, blah, blah...BUT I have ZERO idea who is going to win...Worse, probably, is that while I'll watch as closely as anybody I can't work up any interest for the pre-game hype...I have no bid for that stuff. It's just time, for me anyway, to move on to college basketball and the NBA...

mike wilbon
  (2:54 PM)

Top 3 of the 20th Century? Ali (because he didn't just change sports; he changed the world), Michael Jordan, Babe Ruth (because he was Greg Maddux then he was Babe Ruth)...I was one of the people who voted in the SportsCentury panel in, wow, 1998...And I think that was my top 3 then...

mike wilbon
  (2:55 PM)

Okay, gotta run and prepare for PTI...Thanks for chatting everybody...We'll be in post-game Super Bowl mode next Monday...Hope you all have a great week...MW