Chat with Michael Wilbon
Welcome to SportsNation! On Thursday, ESPN's Michael Wilbon stops by to chat and share his thoughts on the sports world.
Wilbon, a longtime Washington Post sports columnist, is co-host of ESPN's Pardon the Interruption, the popular weekday sports debate and discussion program, as well as an NBA studio analyst for both ESPN and ABC. A pioneer in sports journalism, Wilbon was one of the first sports writers to broaden his success beyond newspapers to include television, radio and other media.
Send your questions now and join Wilbon Thursday at 11 a.m. ET!
mike wilbon (11:04 AM)
Hi Everybody...Thanks for joining in at this strange time...Monday was the funeral of my wife's 101 year-old grandmother, the only real grandmother I've ever had, and I wouldn't have missed a minute of it...But with the tournament beginning in about an hour and with the NBA having such a big week I wanted to chat with you guys before the week ended...I'm in Arizona and when we're done here will drive to Tucson for the first-round games in the NCAA's West region...
Thoughts on the Fab 5 doc?
mike wilbon (11:15 AM)
This is THE place for me to start today considering how much talk there is, some of it heated, over the Fab Five documentary. It's been mostly praised, except if you're a fan of Duke or an alum or friend of Duke. Grant Hill's op-ed piece which is pointedly critical of some of the things said in the documentary is every bit as worthy of reading as the doc is worthy of viewing. I won't get into a long discussion of my feelings because I wrote a column about it which will be posted on .com shortly. Suffice it to say here that I know Jalen Rose, the executive producer and Grant Hill, the target of some of the Fab Five's teenage derision, for many, many years. And respect both of them, have professional and personal relationships with both of them. And they're much more similar at this point of their lives than they are dissimilar. It's an emotional discussion but one very much worth having...
Brendan (Pittsfield, MA)
Hey Michael - D-Wade had a MONSTER dunk last night then began to do the cabage patch dance at midcourt. Somebody should have reminded him that his team was down 9 at the moment. The only thing that shows me is that they're more concearned w/being a highlight reel time then a championship team. (as if the welcoming parade didn't already show us that)
mike wilbon (11:19 AM)
Normally, I'd agree with you 1,000 percent. But in this case, having talked to D-Wade just on Tuesday, I wonder how much that show of happiness had as much or more to do with his huge court victory for custody of his two sons as the dunk and the good feeling in the moment of the game. Maybe I'm reaching, but that kind of show of emotion is so rare for Wade during his eight years in the NBA...I just saw the smile on his face when we had him on PTI Tuesday, and I know how enormous a deal this custody battle was...I am connecting the two because I know how thrilled he is. Any other time, I'd be in a much different place on this issue because I, as a rule, dislike a whole lot of celebrating during games, especially when your team loses. So if it sounds like I'm giving Wade a bit of a pass here because of special circumstances, I think I am...
WHY did the Bulls not get C. Lee?? I understand they did not want to give a big for him, but Houston would not have taken a couple #1's? Don't you think the lack of a decent SG will be the Bulls fatal flaw this year??
mike wilbon (11:22 AM)
Maybe...But have you seen Omer Asik's development? I felt THE EXACT SAME WAY as you on the day of the trade deadline. Then I've really really locked in on Asik's development and it's clear Gar Forman and John Paxson were right to keep him. A 7-footer who is a late bloomer with that kid's body and upside? They're not going to have Kurt Thomas beyond this season or next...And Carlos Boozer, as much as I love him, has missed some games in his career with injury. So Asik is more than an insurance policy. He can play with Noah, with Boozer...The Bulls bigs are an advantage against Miami, maybe an advantage over Boston without Kendrick Perkins...Look, I think the Bulls are going to struggle offensively in the playoffs because they don't have that reliable jump shooter, yes, but keep the bigs was the right move, I think...And Houston wanted a big, not just picks.
Do you see the Mavericks getting the #2 seed?
mike wilbon (11:24 AM)
No. The Lakers are on a roll and they'll be the 2-seed, and at the same time the Mavericks are struggling a bit, even with some second-tier teams. I think the Mavericks may be the biggest threat to the Lakers in the West because Dallas has some size...But the absence against Caron Butler, who they would ask to guard Kobe, is huge. With Butler perhaps the Mavs would be able to wrestle the 2-seed away from the Lakers, but with L.A. locked in and playing April basketball instead of early November basketball I don't see anybody beating them out west...
Anything positive to say about the Bobcats?
mike wilbon (11:26 AM)
I think the Bobcats will be the 8th seed in the East. Is that good enough? Actually, I love the way Gerald Henderson has come along. I thought on draft night he was an excellent selection. Paul Silas has done a pretty darn good job rallying them after that team was so disappointing early in the year...
James miami [via mobile]
Besides Rose, who is the one player you would pay Top Dollar to see
mike wilbon (11:27 AM)
You mean, besides Kobe Bryant, one of the top 10 players in the history of the game? Besides LeBron James and Dwyane Wade? Well, besides them AND D-Rose, I'll start with Blake Griffin. Easily.
Michael, any comment on Jalen Rose calling Grant Hill and others "Uncle Tom's"? I thought it was out of line and bitter.
mike wilbon (11:30 AM)
we'll go back to this for a second. It WAS bitter. Jalen said he was bitter and jealous of Grant who had all the things as a kid that he, Jalen, wanted. The sticking point here is largely that in the doc Jalen doesn't fully disassociate himself with those 18-year-old comments. Jalen did a great job of that in interviews and on twitter...He has explained fully that's the way he felt at 18 and has nothing but admiration for Grant since...but in the doc it doesn't come off that way and Grant, understandably, took exception. I would have, too. I talk to Jalen all the time and I KNOW he doesn't feel that way now and hasn't for many, many years...Some might feel it's uncomfortable to have this conversation in public, but I think a ton of good can and will come from it. And I know those guys well enough to know they'll get together and talk...And it's not like they don't get along and don't like each other as grown men because I know they do.
Why does Tony always say "Good Night Canada"? I've read different explanations. What's the real story?
mike wilbon (11:32 AM)
Because until just recently, while PTI formally ends during SportsCenter with our last segment and "Big Finish" TSN didn't show that portion in Canada, where they have their own SportsCenter...So, Tony would say "Goodnight Canada" at the end of the previous block, the top of the hour (6 eastern time) because our show would end then for viewers in Canada...Anything other than that you hear, forget it. That's the one and only explanation.
Sam (Sterling, IL)
Michael - I'm sure you've been asked this a lot, but...what would bring you more joy: a cubs world series trip, or a wildcat final four run?
mike wilbon (11:35 AM)
Great question...Easy answer for me. I've been a Cubs fan all my life...a Wildcat since 1976...A Cubs World Series appearance. And I say that hoping the basketball team will simply make the NCAA tournament soon. Although I ain't turning up my nose at ANY athletic successes my alma mater has...And for those of you asking for a Cubs prediction for the season, I have zero idea. Seriously, does it matter what my prediction is? I'm planning on catching some Cubs (and White Sox) spring training action next week and look forward to hearing the chatter about both teams...Seems the White Sox are poised to have a better season than the Cubs, at this point anyway.
Hey, Michael. I thought Grant Hill showed class and some great perspective with his NY Times Op-Ed. And I also liked his last sentence about being proud that his Duke teams never lost to Michigan.
mike wilbon (11:35 AM)
Never losing to the Fab Five is the trump card for Duke, isn't it? And yes, Grant Hill's op-ed piece is a damn good one. I talk about that in some detail in the column that will soon be posted...
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
Who do you think will be the National Champions in Men's College Basketball according to your Brackets?
mike wilbon (11:37 AM)
I've got Ohio State, San Diego State, Kansas and Michigan State as my Final Four...I don't understand why--Sorry Mr. President--people fill out their brackets and pick all 4 No. 1 seeds to reach the Final Four when that has happened a grand total of ONE time. I don't get it; why do people do that? And it's so unlikely to happen this year because there is so little difference between the teams now. In fact, I think it's more likely a No. 1 seed gets upset the first weekend than reach the Final Four as a group...
Tom (MN) [via mobile]
Can Blake Griffin only dunk? That's all ESPN shows.
mike wilbon (11:39 AM)
Great point. He's got to develop a little jump shot...He doesn't have to become Karl Malone but his offensive game has to evolve...Having said that, he does have some nice finishing move around the basket...but our obsession (probably, it reflects fans' obsession with Griffin) is with him dunking, which is the most entertaining individual thing in basketball right now. I tire of the dunk highlights; I really do. But I can watch Griffin dunks all night long, and I guess the producers feel the same way I do as just a viewer...
If Chris Webber ever stomped on someone's chest and coach Fisher didn't suspend him do you think they would have gotten away with it like Laettner and Coach K has? That is one major reason why the Fab 5 has every reason to despise Duke.
mike wilbon (11:41 AM)
I NEVER believed Laettner (It was Laettener, wasn't it? That was nearly 20 years ago!) stomped on anybody's chest as you say. I think as often happens in tangles with bodies on the floor, Laettner stepped on the other kid...I don't think it was intentional and if it was a kid from Kansas, not Duke, who did it I don't think people would have reacted as violently as they did. (and apparently still do)
any chance we see Calipari in the NBA next year? If so, where?
mike wilbon (11:43 AM)
Next year? Wow. I hadn't thought of that. Maybe I'll get to ask him in the next week or two since I'm flying around and covering the tournament...Hmmm...Where do you have him going? Seems to me he'd only take a job where he thought he could win the NBA Championship. It's not like he's going to follow Phil Jackson in Los Angeles. (I'm thinking Brian Shaw there)...It's an intriguing situation, though. Miami? Hmmm...I like the mystery around this one...
Scott (Northglenn, CO)
To you who is/was the best player: Grant Hill, C-Webb, Juwan or Jalen?
mike wilbon (11:48 AM)
Grant Hill, no question. Grant was the best player (sorry, but Laettner didn't win a title without Hill)...Grant led a team with no great player back to the Finals as a senior...Grant's first seven years were better than any stretch the other guys had, although I thought Jalen was under-utilized at a couple of stops. The Suns, I think, could have gotten over the hump had Mike D'Antoni played Jalen more when the Suns needed a veteran swing player off the bench. Of course, C-Web was the most talented of the bunch...Well, maybe he and Grant were even...Web had such great hands, such a quick jump, such an imaginative passing game, could finish around the basket. Web was a MARVELOUS talent, seriously. He led the Kings to the brink of an NBA championship and was hosed against the Lakers. Hosed, yes, I covered that series and will go to my grave believing that. It was an embarrassment. Wow, had Weber and Sac gotten past the Lakers and into the Finals history would view him so much differently. None of those guys won an NBA Championship (illustrating how difficult it is)...If you've forgotten (Grant did) how great Hill was go look at him on YouTube. He was a triple-double threat every night AND a great defender...I'm still taking Hill, I think.
dan (New Haven)
DO you think that chicago will try to sign J.R Smith during free agency
mike wilbon (11:50 AM)
No. The Bulls are HUGE on chemistry and they could have had JR Smith THIS year if they wanted. No, I don't see him as fitting into what they do, who they have. A big, big, big reason the Bulls are as good as they are is they don't have guys who color outside the lines...no free-lancers, no knuckleheads...And Smith can be those things...Hell, he IS those things and the Bulls, both players and management, make it very, very clear they want no part of guys like that, which I think is admirable if you can find guys who can play who also comport themselves the way you want. It doesn't always work out that way, and I think the Bulls could stand one mix-it-up guy in that locker room...but their way is working so I ain't about to argue...
Scott (Northglenn, CO)
Do you see the Nuggets sustaining their success, and making some noise in the playoffs?
mike wilbon (11:51 AM)
wouldn't that be a great story if the Nuggets keep rolling? They're 9-2 since the trade and they share the ball, play much better defense...They're exciting to watch. I know George Karl is happy because I've talked to him a couple of times. He's beyond happy, he's excited. His battery has been charged. And that's great to see.
Tanner (San Diego)
Mike, which game are you most looking forward to in Tucson today? There is some good hype about both a 12 and 13 seed upsets down there? The 10-7 game could be good too...
mike wilbon (11:52 AM)
I'm most excited about seeing San Diego State in person because I've only seen them play on TV in parts of three or four games...can't wait, as Bart Scott would say...
Can part of the Bulls rise this year be put on the fact that their division is absolutely terrible? I mean come on, there is not a single team over .500 behind them........
mike wilbon (11:54 AM)
Yes, absolutely. The Bulls division is wretched. And Milwaukee is the surprise there. I thought the Bucks would challenge the Bulls for the division title and they've been a big zero all year. A lot of people, my man Jon Barry included, think Milwaukee will make a late charge and win the No. 8 spot in the Eastern Conference...But at this point, wouldn't that still be a disappointment? But yeah, if you can beat up on Cleveland, Detroit, Milwaukee and Indiana it certainly allows you to move up the ladder. It ain't like being in a division with Miami, Orlando, Atlanta and Charlotte, where only the Wizards truly stink...
Tony and you working on 10 years for PTI, right? Awesome show. Wanted to know why you despise the University of Michigan football program.....I can take it.
mike wilbon (11:58 AM)
It's really a pro wrestling hate. I hated Michigan football (not basketball, football) as a kid because my brother loved them. And I've kept it up on TV because it's fun. I poke at Michigan because they're the Big Bear in the conference I care most about, the Big Ten. It's particularly enjoyable that Northwestern football, over the last 15 years, has had some success against Michigan...NOW, let me say that I've got more family members who went to Michigan (tied, probably, with Northwestern at about a half-dozen apiece). And I have more guys I like who have gone to Michigan (Desmond Howard, Juwan Howard, Jalen Rose, C-Web, Jon Jansen...guys I'm forgetting, tons of guys)...Anyway, you only pick on the biggest and best in your conference and Michigan historically has been that in the Big Ten...Let me tell you this, if my kid Matthew is good enough at anything to be recruited by Michigan, I'd be the happiest father on earth. So that should tell you how much I really hate Michigan...I'll continue the rants (as many directed at Notre Dame as Michigan) because I love to do it...
Michael, when will our alma mater (Northwestern) ever break through and make the NCAAs? Will it take a 96-team field?
mike wilbon (12:00 PM)
I hope it's a 68-team field or whatever this is. I hope it's not so far down the road the tournament is letting everybody in. I had really hoped for last year and those losses to Penn State were just a crusher...I thought we had a chance to win the Big Ten Tournament last week if we just could have beaten Ohio State...Don't make me sad on the morning of the first-round of the tournament by bringing up this topic...And by the way, it is the FIRST round, not the second round. Please. So what, the other 60- teams got byes in the first round?
Do you think Carmelo could be an above average defender? Is it just about effort and energy at that end of the court?
mike wilbon (12:01 PM)
He sure could be. Question is...is he interested. The Knicks had better commit to playing some defense or they'll get bounced out of the playoffs in four or five games. They've got a dozen games to get their act together...right now I don't know what to think about them...
mike wilbon (12:03 PM)
Okay, I gotta run and hop in the car and start the drive to Tucson...Seriously, I can't wait. This is one of my five favorite days of the year, the Thursday/Friday of the NCAA Tournament. When I was covering college hoops for a living I couldn't even sleep on the Wednesday night before the tournament...Hope you all enjoy the day and watch as much as possible...We're back Monday to discuss the weekend and look ahead to NBA developments...Take care everybody and thanks...