Print and Go Back ESPN: SportsNation

April 8, 1:00 PM ET
Chat with Michael Wilbon

  (1:01 PM)

Hey folks, it looks like Mike will be joining us at 1:30 p.m. ET today.

Michael Wilbon
  (1:22 PM)

This is Mike's assistant, Khaleelah. Mike is on his way from the airport and will start chatting at about 1:45 ET.

jimmy (nc)

how for real are the Knicks?

Michael Wilbon
  (1:56 PM)

Hi much to jump on including, obviouly, tonight's game and the NBA approaching the final week...I'm good with starting with this Knicks question, and I think the answer is "yes." I think it is. For them to be "real" they'd have to reach the conference finals against Miami...That's my definition anyway. They're playing the kind of defense they did early in the season when they were off to that great start. The Kenyon Martin acquisition has worked brilliantly. He brings a toughness the Knicks didn't have previously...and to be honest Carmelo is so much more effective when he doesn't have to share the space or the shot-taking with Amare Stoudemire...and I say that as a long-time Amare fan...AND J.R. Smith might have passed Jamal Crawford--well, he has on my ballot--for 6th man of the year. Mike Woodson has done a nice job orchestrating all this...I think the Knicks are a worthy challenger for the champs. I'm not going any further than that, but they'd be for real if they can challenge them because nobody else in the east can over a 7-game series.

George (Sarasota)

Was membership into the Big Ten at stake the reason why Rutgers men's basketball coach was not fired much sooner?

Michael Wilbon
  (1:58 PM)

Not that I know of, though who knows what the big boys in charge of decision making are thinking when they make these calls. There is a sense that Rutgers has "purged" itself now, going forward and into the Big Ten. I know people with Big Ten ties who argue it both ways (that it had something to do with the initial decision and that it didn't.) I find it terribly sad that the Rutgers president is still employed...

Randie (Miami)

Wilbon - as hot as the Knicks are now - and everyone sees them as a threat to the Heat - why cant anyone see that it is only JR Smith and Carmelo that are scoring points. The Heat and their bench are outplaying everyone...Dont get me wrong - the Knicks are scary when they are hot from beyong the arc - but the heat should be able to play solid D and stop the bleeding - your thoughts?

Michael Wilbon
  (2:01 PM)

Yeah, that's right, I agree with your assessment...But the point is ONLY Miami is playing better in the Eastern Conference. Only Miami...And if that's the standard of comparison, then the Knicks are doing pretty well...

Chris (SLC)

The Jazz road win over the Warriors last night was big for us.Do you still think the Jazz are going to fall short?

Michael Wilbon
  (2:06 PM)

Well, it's harder now to make a case against the Jazz or for the Lakers given that the Jazz could win this thing by beating the Timberwolves twice...Seriously, the Lakers are no lock to @ Portland because the Lakers rarely win @ Portland, even when they've got a great team and this is anything but a great team...Wow, the Jazz...they really could get this done and wouldn't THAT tick off Lakers Nation...

Joe (NYC)

Without Gallo and possibly Ty do this awesomely fun Nuggets team have any chance of beating OKC or SA?

Michael Wilbon
  (2:10 PM)

Yes. Jalen Rose convinced me of this yesterday when I was in despair over the Nuggets (I'm captain of the George Karl fan club) when he pointed out that Wilson Chandler IS a player who can stretch the floor with his three-point shooting AND this kid Fornier (hope I spelled that correctly) can both handle the ball and shoot it from deep...Look, A.I. is going to have to do more, Chandler will have to play bigger minutes than he usually does...but I think the Nuggets, while not as deep, are STILL a huge threat. Coaches (even GK) shorten their rotations in the playoffs anyway, so depth isn't as important as getting through the regular season...So I'm not as down about Denver's chances, which would be greater WITH Galo, as I was initially...

nolen (canada)

How serious is D-Wades injury and do you think he will be ready come playoff time?

Michael Wilbon
  (2:12 PM)

I think this Wade's sitting out is more in the interest of precaution...with an eye to being preventative...I think Wade is going to be a LOT healthier this post-season than he was last.

TK (San Diego)

Do you think Timmy D has a chance to be first team all-NBA? Its like he's quietly putting up numbers like he was 24 years old again. Im not saying he's an MVP, but he is definitely having a very good year on one of the top teams in the league. Thanks.

Michael Wilbon
  (2:14 PM)

You make a completely legit point. I am pretty sure I'm voting Marc Gasol as my firs-team center, and I'm not even sure Duncan can be put into the "center" spot on the ballot...Have to check on that. But Duncan has been absolutely great...Still, he can't carry a team through the post-season. He's going to need Parker and Ginobili pretty close to 100 percent if the Spurs are going to win it all...

Mitch (NC)

Jemele Hill said of Mark Cuban's comments on Griner, it "perpetuates the dangerous idea that great female athletes need to validate themselves by competing against men." But to me, if the NBA allows women, doesn't it mean that the NBA is for the world's best players regardless of any domographic category (sexual orientation coming soon too)? If you're the best, you play in the NBA, period. What if other barrier breakers said they don't have to validate themselves? American sports wouldn't be what it is today.

Michael Wilbon
  (2:22 PM)

Great question, and tough issue to call. I think my friend Jemele makes such a smart point...I actually felt this way (doubt I was smart enough to state it the way she did) when Michele Wie was being forced to compete in men's golf events...BUT, I do feel that the culture moves when people do things that were once thought of as impossible...And to that end I think B. Griner, more than any woman since Cheryl Miller and Annie Meyers and Nancy Liberman...I think those are still the three best players in the history of the women's game...I don't have a phony prediction on when it might happen or in whose lifetime...but I hope I live long enough to see it...

John (Denver)

I am a Kevin Durant fan but the way Kobe is playing with the number of minutes he has played in his 17th season is just mind boggling. Do you think it is just s shame that he has won only 1 regular season MVP. Do you think he was overlooked all the years or he never had many seasons of individual greatness as Jordan, or Lebron. Your thoughts???

Michael Wilbon
  (2:25 PM)

Great and fair question...I'd have to study Kobe's best seasons and compare them to the people who won in those years...Kobe could have gotten the first one that went to LeBron...but he did play alongside Shaq and at the same time as Tim Duncan...And didn't Iverson have a spectacular MVP season? It might be that Kobe, if we had time to look at every single season, was trumped one time after another by a better SEASON although not as good a player...Possible...Something to really look up...I gotta make this a pet project...

Boone (Yonkers NY)

What is the 7 game series result if the Knicks meet the Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals. I'm going with the Knicks in 7!

Michael Wilbon
  (2:26 PM)

Miami in five or six, I think...But I just like that there's a challenger in the East now, which we didn't see coming three weeks ago, right?

oliver (dc)

In his last four home games, John Wall has averaged 32.3 points, 8 assists, 6.3 rebounds, 1.8 blocked shots and 1.5 turnovers. Is he worth a max deal?

Michael Wilbon
  (2:27 PM)

I think he's played his way into a max deal, and thanks for those numbers...More important, the Wizards are a real team with Wall on the floor and they were dreadful without him. Dreadful. 4-28 or something like that...

Faraz (Chicago, IL)

Who is your pick for Coach of the Year?

Michael Wilbon
  (2:28 PM)

Coach Spo in Miami...George Karl second, Pop third...That's my order, I think.

John (Atlanta)

Chris Webber made mistakes at Michigan, but hes had a HOF worthy career, is a successful analyst, and currently lives in Atlanta where the National Championship is being played. Does he owe it to the Fab Five and himself to show up tonight?

Michael Wilbon
  (2:29 PM)

I think so, yes...owes it to the University of Michigan, to the basketball program there, to Michigan alums who supported him and to his former teammates...That's my take on this...

roberto ( brooklyn)

Come on Wilbon. Who's your pick in tonights NCAA championship game? This is where the rubber meets the road.

Michael Wilbon
  (2:35 PM)

Michigan...But I'm conflicted...As a young sportswriter for The Washington Post I was assigned to cover this new conference called The Big East...early in that period Rick Pitino was named the coach at Providence College and I got to know him reasonably well and he was damn helpful to me, professionally speaking, for years and years...Let's face it; we root for people we respect, like and have made our lives/jobs easier...having said that, I'm a Big Ten alum, a trustee at one of its member institutions and I'd want Michigan people rooting for my school in non-conference situations, like football bowl games for my NU Wildcats since, well, we don't have much of a NCAA Tournament resume, if you know what I mean...Anyway, this comes down to rooting interest for me because the two teams are even-Steven. They both play to win the championship every season. They've both WON before...Dont' tell me Michigan winning would be an upset because they're a No. 4 seed and Louisville is the No. 1 seed...don't want to hear that. I'll take Michigan in OT, but it's a pick-'em game.

Michael Wilbon
  (2:37 PM)

Okay, you were framing a really compelling question until you led it into a word game. What are you, a TV producer? LOL. I'm not up for a word game at this hour. Let's just take your question and make it a comment because you are spot on...You just framed Carmelo's life for the next month...Well done.

Devin Brooks (Detroit)

Mike, tell me this.. when I look at Trey Burke stats and how he play the game, and I look back at Chris paul and his stats.. they are the same.. trey weight more than Chris when Chris came out of WF.. to me, everyone in the media thinks trey is too small, but Chris was too.. why media think trey is just a off the bench guard..

Michael Wilbon
  (2:40 PM)

Another good question...I don't know that it has anything to do with media...other than that we talk constantly with NBA scouts and so we're probably reflecting what they think. At Burke's best I think some of those comparisons are legit. But he's so erratic, turns it over too much. I watched a Michigan game vs. Penn State this season where Burke just gave it away, handed it over a a Nittany Lion team which at the time hadn't won a Big Ten game...It's that inconsistency that gives folks pause. Remember, Burke was a score-first pg who to his credit wanted to learn how to be a distributor primarily...I don't see him as being in the category of Chris Paul, but I'm happy to eat the big plate of crow if he winds up being anywhere near that good.

Chris (Charleston, SC)

Mike, you do know Burke is third in the nation in assist-to-turnover ratio, right??

Michael Wilbon
  (2:42 PM)

I heard that during the broadcast the other day. But sometimes its WHEN you turn it over, not just how many...

Peter (Pittsburgh)

I'm skeptical of everyone who thinks the Knicks can challenge the Heat. I mean, for one, Lebron can shut Carmelo down, and the Knicks also have no answer for King James on the other end of the court. Also, is everyone forgetting the beat down Miami gave New York last playoffs?

Michael Wilbon
  (2:42 PM)

The Knicks are better than they were last year, don't you think? I do. A lot better.

Ashley (Portland,Maine)

Hi Wilbon - Do you see anyone challenging Tiger Woods at the Masters this year?

Michael Wilbon
  (2:43 PM)

Hell yeah, an entire field of guys. Twent of them...or more. Yes.

Tyler (Birmingham)

who makes the playoffs lakers or Jazz? ? why?

Michael Wilbon
  (2:57 PM)

We'll look at this one more time...The Lakers play the Hornets, @Portland, then have home games against the Warriors, Spurs and Rockets...The Lakers HAVE to go 4-1, right? I don't have them winning at Portland...In the meantime, Utah has a home date with OKC, then home-and-home with Minnesota before closing in Memphis. now, Utah can trump a 4-1 Lakers finish by going 3-1 because Utah holds the tiebreaker. So, a big question is whether Memphis already has the home court over the Clippers for the first round series. Memhpis holds a one-game lead over the Clips now...Utah HAS to sweep the Utah needs to beat either OKC at home or the Griz on the road if you agree with me that the Lakers go 4-1 to close...Oh my goodness, I'm just talking in circles...I DON'T KNOW...I just don't...I'm not going to phony it up. I have zero idea...It's going to be very exciting, though.

John (NY)

Wilbon: Your last comment about word games and Carmelo appeared to be in response to nothing..?? Can you post the comment you were responding to?

Michael Wilbon
  (2:59 PM)

I don't know what happened? It was a really smart question about Carmelo and how the perception of him, his reputation, changes if he leads the Knicks to the Eastern Conference finals this season and goes toe-to-toe with LeBron, but sinks back into the pack if he the Knicks go out in the first round of these playoffs.

George Karl (Chicago)

Where would you rank Kobe Bryant on the all time list? Where would you rank lebron right now on the all time list?

Michael Wilbon
  (3:07 PM)

I don't have a 1-20 rank or anything like that...I think Kobe will retire as one of the 10 greatest players in the history of the NBA, and in that group I would include Jordan, Russell, Magic, Kareem, Bird, Oscar, Wilt and West...You can argue the top 10, I suppose but I have Kobe in that top 10 going foward and clearly LeBron will be there, too, if he isn't already. But he has to win more than one title in my opinion (and I know Oscar has only one)...It's subjective and going forward it's going to be more difficult...

Michael Wilbon
  (3:07 PM)

Okay, I gotta run and prepare for PTI...Have a great week everybody, starting with tonight and the NCAA title game...See you next week...thanks for chatting. MW