Chat with Michael Wilbon
Welcome to SportsNation! On Monday, 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 Monday at 1 p.m. ET!
mike wilbon (1:05 PM)
Hi everybody...Hope your brackets are in better shape than mine...I'ver got three of my Final Four teams left (San Diego State, Ohio State, Kansas) but that's not all that great at this stage of the tournament...I lost Michigan State in the very first round and nearly lost the Aztecs in that 2 OT thriller...The tournament has been pretty good so far, but not compelling. Then again, this next weekend can produce plenty of memorable games that could define the tournament and the way we ultimately remember it...
In your opinion who is the best player left in the Sweet 16?
mike wilbon (1:07 PM)
I think Ohio State, Duke and Kansas are all pretty evenly matched. I'd rank San Diego State after them because the Aztecs offense simply isn't up to the level of the other three...And if you make me pick just one, I'll say Ohio State, though I honestly can't separate them from Kansas and Duke, I guess in that order...
Will Jimmer win Player of the Year?
mike wilbon (1:08 PM)
Yeah, I think so...narrowly over Kemba Walker of UCONN and Ohio State's Jared Sullinger...
Why would you pick the knicks to upset the Miami Heats? Would you say the same thing for The Bulls since they are 2nd and knick are 7th in the east.
mike wilbon (1:13 PM)
Picking the Knicks to upset the Heat in the playoffs a couple of Sundays ago on ABC is THE DUMBEST thing I've said in years, as far as picks go...Unforgivably stupid. And I took it back the very next day, after the Knicks lost at home that same Sunday night to the Pacers...The Knicks aren't ready for prime time. They're not winning a playoff series this year and won't in any year until they get serious about playing defense. I was putting WAY too much stock in New York's victory over Miami a couple of weeks ago...That was more about Miami's struggles than about the Knicks...
Wilbon, Love the show! Thoughts on Bynum's 2 game suspension? Isn't he the same guy that took out Perk in the Finals. Point is, if you watch that hit on Beasley, he clearly was trying to take him out.
mike wilbon (1:14 PM)
Well, the NBA appears to see it the same way you do, and I am not going to quibble with the decision to bounce Bynum for two games...That's a signal for him to get his act together. If he does it again...
Pat Riley (Miami, FL)
How many championships do you think the Heat will win with our Big 3? And do you think I will fire Erik and become the Miami Heat head coach again?
mike wilbon (1:16 PM)
How about one first? I'm not one to predict multiple championships. Yes, Miami has the foundation for multiples, but let's see the Heat win one first. I could see three in four years, something like that, but there have been some incredibly talented teams that fell short and couldn't get one...
Adam (Toronto, ON)
With Andrew Bynum seemingly playing at a high level with some consistency, think we should make the Lakers the favourites? If they finish with a better record than CHI and BOS and meet one of them in the finals, can those 2 teams beat Kobe and crew in Game 7 in LA?
mike wilbon (1:18 PM)
I think the Celtics, obviously, can beat the Lakers...I don't know about the Bulls. I think it's just difficult to go from not having won a playoff series to winning four. I'm sure the Bulls think they can, and have every reason to feel that way so far...but the Lakers and Celtics have performed at a championship level and there's lot of proving to do before you just walk in and beat the champs...
David (Chicago (at heart))
Hey Wilbon,How worried should I be about Rose's play of late. Not getting any assists?? (Saying he doesn't have Boozer right now doesn't work because he was getting assists when Boozer was out). Not shooting 3s the same? Could the presure of being so close the the MVP be getting to him?
mike wilbon (1:22 PM)
great question...I've been wondering a little bit about that too. Maybe your theory is onto something...On the other hand I talked to an NBA executive the other day who reminded me that these are the true dog days of summer, and to take a look at the Celtics' struggles and all kinds of other factors (Rose' poor shooting lately and assists being down) as indicators that teams, all of them, are just huffing and puffing and dragging themselves to the finish line...I want to see if after a couple of days off Rose has a more efficient performance against the Kings in the next game...The stress of the end of the regular season and fighting Boston for the top seed are the kinds of pressures that operate on a team in the playoffs that make it a completely different season from the first 82...
Hey Mike, I went to The Bulls vs Pacers game on Friday Night. This is the 6th game I've been to this year in the 6th different city. In addition to the Wizards game at the end of last month, I have never seen such a staggering amount of Bulls/Rose fans, and after that ridiculous comeback attempt that literally had grown men acting like boys on xmas eve, I think despite the loss, UNLESS YOU WATCH THE GAMES or ARE THERE, you can't deny he has brought the buzz all the way back to the fan base. What i wanna ask is, I feel at least in the first 2 rds possibly, the Bulls will have a significant advantage with Road Game turnout. It can only fuel a deep playoff run right?
mike wilbon (1:26 PM)
Real championship contenders win on the road, but it's not dependent on the number of fans in the stands. There weren't many Bulls/Jordan fans in Indianapolis during that famous 7-game playoff series with Reggie Miller's Pacers. The fandom speaks to the size of the Bulls' fanbase and the way people feel about Rose and his personality and approach to the game, the humility he exhibits. But players and their performances will determine what happens in the playoffs, not fan support, though the Bulls would welcome it, I'm sure...
How can great athletes not play or care about defense? i.e. Carmelo, Stoudamire, Bosh (until lately), JRich, etc. Last time I recall, Jordan and Kobe were pretty good athletes.
mike wilbon (1:30 PM)
Great question/comment. I agree with you. But I think the coach also has to establish an environment where defense is a priority. Phil Jackson did that, and Doug Collins before him. And remember, Jordan already had experienced that kind of culture at North Carolina for three years. I like a ton of what Mike D'Antoni does as a coach, but establishing defense isn't on of those things. I've been cautioned about that many times by guys who have played for or against him. I wonder if D'Antoni would seriously consider turning over the defense to a "coordinator" of sorts, the way Coach Tibbs ran the defense for Doc Rivers in Boston. Until the Knicks get serious about stopping people, they're going nowhere. The scouts who cautioned that Amare and Carmelo don't play good enough defense to win in the playoffs are looking pretty smart with the Knicks having a record of 7-8 (or something close to that) since the trade.
Tommy John (Evanston, IL)
Hollinger makes the argument that D-Rose can't be MVP -- the Bulls' success is due to their great defense, and Rose is an average defender, at best? Rebuttal?
mike wilbon (1:33 PM)
Then Hollinger's argument would be that the Bulls, without Rose, would be what? An 8 seed? 7 seed? No, they'd be a lottery team, period. Defense isn't ALL that wins championships. You have to play offense. Rose is the single biggest difference-maker in the NBA. If LeBron is taken off of Miami they're still a playoff team. Dirk doesn't play much defense, but he's what makes it go in Dallas. Teams have to be balanced, and the Bulls are fairly balanced because they've got the great defense and they've got Rose. You have to take into account a team's personality, who provides its leadership, who other teams cannot stop, who breaks down opposing defenses...I haven't read Hollinger's take on this yet, but Rose is the MVP, I don't care what anybody says, and that wlll be proven when the vote is counted this April/May...
Bill Mc (Kharkiv, Ukraine)
The recent Jalen Rose - Grant Hill discussion, got me thinking about Grant's career. Will he be in the Hall of Fame? He had a fantastic college career, has an Olympic Gold Medal, and was one the the five best players in the NBA for his first 7 years before the injuries hit. Is it enough? The Basketball HOF is not just for the NBA years, will he get in? I would hope so. Please give me your thoughts. Thank you.
mike wilbon (1:36 PM)
Grant Hill is a lock for the Hall of Fame, because, as you accurately state, it's the Basketball Hall of Fame, not the NBA Hall of Fame. Hill, in my book, was the best player on those first two championship teams. Hill, remember, got a team with no other celebrated players to the championship game, a third title game, in 1994. Christian Laettner, who is rightfully praised as one of the great college players of all time, never won without Hill. Grant HAS to be a Hall of Famer if for no other reason than that...And those first 7 years in the NBA were pretty darn amazing. Look at his stats and some clips on YouTube and compare them to guys playing today, even LeBron James.
capodon (nassau, bahamas)
Wuzup Mike? so who is the best player in the league this year? not MVP, BEST PLAYER?
mike wilbon (1:37 PM)
LeBron James is probably the best player, but D-Rose and Kobe Bryant and Dirk Nowitzki and Dwight Howard, on my ballot as of this moment, will be ranked as being more valuable this season, and as your question suggests there is a difference.
What are your thoughts on the New Looks Nuggets and Knicks, or as some have called them, the Knuggets and Nuggets-East? You could argue that they're still jelling, but relatively speaking one has far-exceeded post-trade expectations and one has failed to meet them, Is this a temporary thing or a harbinger of things to come?
mike wilbon (1:39 PM)
The Nuggets are so much better it's not even funny (especially if you're a Knicks fan)...Wow. they share the ball, they play better defense, they rebound better...George Karl thought he could get something approximating this level of play out of this group, and he sure is doing it. Denver's my favorite team to watch in the West now, perhaps because they're a total surprise, yes. What a great story it would be if they win a series in the playoffs and go further than the Knicks.
Can something be done about Matt Cooke,Mr.Wilbon? I know you have a passionate opinion about dirty hits in the NHL. I think he should be banned from the sport,period. Enough is enough. If I were the pens owner I'd release him today.
mike wilbon (1:41 PM)
When the owners and the league decide hits to the head and Cook's type of goonery has no place in the league then he'll become useless. I think there are enough talented players in the world that the Matt Cooks no longer have to be tolerated in the NHL, and I know more people would disagree with me, that there aren't enough players to play an Olympics-style brand of hockey for 80-plus games a season. I wonder what will have to happen to a player on the ice in order for the NHL to act definitively and remove this garbage from the game...
Why doesn't Dwight Howard get any love for MVP? He is the best big man around and without him the Magic would be in the lottery..
mike wilbon (1:42 PM)
Dwight will get plenty of votes for MVP. He just won't get enough to beat out D. Rose this season. And he shouldn't. Rose has had a better season.
whats your take on a Joakim Noah for Dwight Howard swap next year because we all know he won't be resigning? That would be their best offer they would receive by far.
mike wilbon (1:46 PM)
No. I love Dwight Howard, but Noah's personality--and I talked about this in a previous question--is largely the Bulls' personality. he's the second-most important player on the team, after Rose. Noah's rebound numbers would match Howard's except that Noah has to share rebounds with Boozer, Asik and Thomas while Howard doesn't have any helpers. Noah's energy, hustle plays, overall defensive willingness, and his combativeness on the court are difficult to replace. Let's see how far the Bulls get this year with that they've got. Noah won two championships in college and I think he's a part, on a true team, that is very, very difficult to replace even though someone else may have greater statistical contribution.
mike wilbon (1:48 PM)
Yes, Gar Forman and John Paxson look incredibly smart for holding onto both of them, even though dopes like me said they should trade one or the other to get a shooter. Now, we've haven't gotten to the playoffs yet and we'll start to second-guess them again if the Bulls are challenged to score in the half-cout, which could still happen. But Asik, in particular, has great value as a 7-footer who can rebound, play defense...As a late-bloomer, we might even see some scoring in the future...As far as the off-season, I have no idea. I'm too busy looking at the playoffs, the second season, what really matters. You can't asses anything until you've seen a team perform in the playoffs.
mike wilbon (1:51 PM)
Yeah, probably not yet...Heartache is almost a prerequisite in NBA history for winning a championship. I think the Bulls can and will win two rounds this year IF they finish the season with the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference. But you have to win four rounds to win a championship, and it's damn difficult to do. If any young player can lead his team through that I think it's Rose. Everything about his makeup suggests he an odds-beater. He won in high school, led his team to the championship game in one season of college, and now is going to be the league's MVP at, what, 22? But again, the post-season is the only evaluation that matters in pro basketball. I would say "CAN'T WAIT!" but I might have to pay Bart Scott royalties.
Mikw, don't the Bulls look smarter and smarter for hanging onto Asik, and Gibson... Won't they make a nice package for a solid two, or even individually with a pick or two. What can we expect for the off season
mike wilbon (1:52 PM)
Ooops, this was the question about Asik and Taj I was answering...Don't have any idea what was in the question slot!!! Sorry about that.
How can Thibodeau be coach of the year when he has Rose and Pop has no one in the ESPN MVP rankings?
mike wilbon (1:53 PM)
I don't know that Coach Tibbs will be the coach-of-the-year. I sense a lot of support out there for Pop...I have a vote and I haven't made up my mind yet about which of them will win. Nate McMillan in Portland deserves to be somewhere on that ballot, too.
Michael, i have followed you alot but this is the first time i have actually become nauseated by your excessive homer-ism towards the Bulls. I understand this is a business for you but your still allowed to be a fan, but this year has seen you become maniacal to the point that you are touting the worse MVP winner since the atrocity that saw AI win the beginning of the century. Yes the Heat are a playoff team without LBJ, but they are not a contender with just wade and bosh.
mike wilbon (1:56 PM)
And what about your own "homerism?" Take LeBron off the team and Miami still makes the playoffs, right, probably in the No. 5 slot, no lower than No. 6. Even you in your homeristic blindness can see that. Take Rose off the Bulls and you've got a lottery team. LeBron is playing with two All-Stars and one other Hall of Famer, and Rose isn't playing with another All-Star, yet Rose team is ahead of LeBron's team in the standings and LEBRON IS THE MVP? That's too illogical to even entertain. If winning isn't in you formula, then what's it worth. Rose team is ahead of LeBron's team, even though LeBron has much more to work with from a talent standpoint. So, where is your logic?
Nobody disputes Jimmer's greatness as a college player (at least I haven't seen). But when it comes to his "NBA" status the majority doesn't think that it translates. With the NBA being predominantly black, how much does race play into everyone's decision?
mike wilbon (2:03 PM)
Race plays into all decisions and perceptions, though 90 percent of people want to say or act as if they don't or as if they're "colorblind" which is the dumbest thing ever. We all see color; some are better than others at putting it aside, but the people who say "I don't see color" are the ones who usually are most influenced by it...Now, having said that, I think scouts are less influenced by it than just about any fraternity of people in America. They get paid to judge who can play and who can contribute in certain situations. Now, the executives who ACT on those recommendations aren't as colorblind. I've written many times about how people react to white basketball players, and how many are either overrated or grossly underrated...often by white executives. Tim Legler and Chris Mullin have told me many times over the years it was usually white people who called them "stiffs" or acted as if they had no business being on the court with black players...I wonder how Jimmer's experience has been and whether it's any different. As far as the NBA, there's a big split among people as to whether he can play in the league in any meaningful way. I know players who say they'd LOVE to play with him, I know players (and coaches) who think he'll be marginal because of size mostly. I think race, thankfully, is diminishing in the way we perceive people, particularly in a sport like basketball ...but it hasn't been eliminated. I think the kid can play in certain circumstances, depending mostly on the coach and his system...then again, we can say that about a whole lot of players, can't we?
mike wilbon (2:04 PM)
Okay, I gotta run and get to PTI prep, so we'll talk next Monday...See you all then and thanks for joining...MW