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 1:30 p.m. ET!
mike wilbon (1:41 PM)
Hi everybody...Thanks for joining, and especially at a later start than usual...I'm on a stretch of 15 flights in 15 days, what with our coverage of the Western Conference finals on ABC/ESPN and my coverage of the Easteern Conference finals for ESPNChicago.com...Game 7 was not particularly surprising yesterday, but I'd say Game 1 was...not that it was a surprise the Bulls beat Miami, but the way the game evolved was...So let's jump right in.
Mike, I enjoy your work and appreciate you taking the time to do this today. I think game 2 is now the biggest game of this series. If Chicago win, I don't think Miami can win 4 of the last 5 to take the series. If Chicago loses game 2, suddenly the Bulls will be in a very tough spot. How do you see game 2 playing out?
mike wilbon (1:44 PM)
Thank you...I agree with you that Game 2 is enormous...I'm reminded of the stat that teams with 2-0 leads win 94 percent of the NBA's 7-game series...Yet, I point out that just a few years ago, in Bulls v Wizards, the Bulls went ahead 2-0 at home and lost 4 straight to the Gilbert Arenas Wizards...True, Luol Deng was hurt that postseason and couldn't play, and Eddie Curry had a major health scare and couldn't play, so the Bulls were missing 2/3 of their front line in the only series the Bulls have ever lost when holding home court advantage (continued)
mike wilbon (1:46 PM)
If the Bulls take a 2-0 lead it puts serious pressure on Miami and I don't know that the Heat can win 4 of five either, considering they'd have lost five straight to the Bulls at that point. I think Miami will make the necessary adjustments and send the series to 1-1. It looks like a 7-game series to me...well, that would justify my pick anyway (Buills in 7)...But a couple of things: Miami is going to have to forget about "going small" and find a way to pull close to even with the Bulls in rebouding. And the Bulls aren't going to shoot it from the perimeter like that again so they'll have to figure out other ways to score. BUT, that was some extraordinary 26 minutes of basketball the Bulls threw on the Heat last night. Extraordinary.
the bulls let chris bosh do whatever he wanted in game 1, do you think this was to bate the big-2 into taking less shots?
mike wilbon (1:49 PM)
Trust me, that wasn't a "let." Bosh is a terrific player who has been unfairly maligned much of this season. I get your point; if the Bulls are going to have to "give up" something it'll be to Bosh, not to LeBron and Wade, who in tandem can kill a team. Bosh, going off, the Bulls can live with. And Bosh played well. But the Bulls aren't going to keep LeBron to 5-for-15 again in Game 2, so who knows, maybe they sit on Bosh this time, realizing LeBron is likely to have a huge game. Whatever, Miami has trouble with the Bulls D, just as just about every team in the league has this season. I said this last week: The Bulls play defense like the Celtics used to...
The feeling in chicago is as if the Bulls have already won the series and the Heat cannot come back. As a Chicago native, do you believe the Bulls-Heat series is already over after just game 1?
mike wilbon (1:53 PM)
Only people who don't watch basketball and just have civic fever would be that naive. Anybody who says that...the reaction should just be a smile and something to the effect of, "nice talking to you!" with a look that says, "Get away from me now." The Bulls and Heat are very different in terms of the way they go about their basketball business, but very close in terms of productivity. They're the two best teams in the Eastern Conference, I'd even say the two best teams in the league, with apologies to Dallas.The series has not even STARTED yet, much less is it over. There's probably an 85 percent chance this thing is tied 1-1 after Game 2. And if you're the Bulls, that's just fine...They're not naive enough to think this is going to be easy.
Hoping to get a question in amongst all the guys. Who you have in the West Finals, and can the Bulls play like this for 3 more games. Go BULLS.
mike wilbon (1:56 PM)
I have Dallas beating OKC in 5 or 6 games. OKC is a very, very talented basketball team. And when Russell Westbrook plays like he did yesterday, dishing out 14 assists and taking only 12 shots, OKC can beat anybody including Dallas. But, OKC turns the ball over recklessly and simply isn't the poised, veteran basketball team Dallas is. I think Dallas goes to the Finals. And can the Bulls play 3 more times at the level they played the second half of last night's game? No. Can they win three more games and take the series? yes, absolutely...because the Bulls play defense like that 95 percent of the time and they've got the best player in the league this year in Derrick Rose, plus (in my opinion) an advantage on the sideline in Tibbs. But, are they going to just dominate Miami 3 more times? No...I'd take that to Las Vegas.
Are there any players (you don't have to be specific) that you actually don't like? It just seems like everytime there is a player that is perceived to be a jerk by the public, you say is really a good guy. I'm just curious.
mike wilbon (2:00 PM)
No, not every time. I just said I like talking to Latrell Sprewell; I think you're refering to that. I don't deal with people based on reputation if I'm in locker rooms and have my own relationship with guys. There are guys with great reps I'm not particularly high on (and no, I'm not going to mention names) and guys people don't much like (Okay, Rasheed Wallace is another) whose public reputations are justified by their public actions, but I might engage them privately and I make my own mind. What Sprewell did to P.J. Carlesimo years ago--and P.J. is a good friend of nearly 30 years--was awful and inexplicable...But I also, covering the NBA for The Washington Post and later ESPN, got to know Spree and found him smart and engaging, even though I find some things he did objectionable. But I don't think anybody who follows my work would say I "like" T.O. and certainly not Bernard Hopikins...just to name two.
Do you think the Bulls cam possibly keep up this rebounding the entire series?
mike wilbon (2:02 PM)
Yes. The Bulls are the best-rebounding team in the NBA, statistically. They've got superior rebounders in Noah and Boozer. Gibson is coming along in that mold and Asik is 7-feet with a nice pair of hands on him and good instincts even if he's not the most athletic guy in the world. Oh, and Kurt Thomas, in a pinch, might be the guy you'd most like to have in there to contest for a single rebound with the game on the line. Oh, and Deng is a solid rebounder at the 3, and Rose is a GREAT rebounder when he wants one...So yes. Can the Bulls shoot like that the rest of the series, or even one more game in the series? Heavens no. Rebound and play D? yes.
Rishi N. (Chicago)
Hello Michael! Do you think that Luol Deng should've been on the All-Defensive Team? How about role players like Gibson or Brewer? Why does Kobe make the team, but better team and individual defenders like Deng are overlooked? What criteria do coaches use when evaluating who the best defensive players are?
mike wilbon (2:03 PM)
Reputation has a lot to do with it, the same way guys often make the Pro Bowl a year AFTER their best work...I voted Deng to my FIRST all-defensive team and voted him third-team All-NBA. His contributions to the team with the best record in the league were preposterously overlooked by both my media brethern and former players...
Alexander (Madison, Wi)
Where would Rose and Durant be in your top 10 players list?
mike wilbon (2:08 PM)
Okay, here's my list...First five based on their play this season: Rose, LeBron, Dwight Howard, Kobe, Dirk.Second five: Wade, Durant, Rondo, Westbrook, Stoudemire...I know you could debate Stoudemire, and I might go back-and-forth because he started the season great but didn't finish it all that strongly, but I thought what he did for the Knicks befoer the Melo trade was huge. Anyway, I've got Durant and Rose in my top 10...
Can you see OKC winning it all?
mike wilbon (2:09 PM)
no...Their play vs. Memphis says to me they're really, really close but Dallas is there. Their youth (Durant and Westbrook are 22, Harden and Ibaka are 21) is going to be exploited by old guys Kidd, Terry and Dirk...
Ajay Srikanth (Ridgewood, NJ)
Hey Mr. Wilbon. That was an impressive performance by the Bulls yesterday. As for the other series in the West, would you consider Dirk or Durant a more dangerous scorer? Seems like they play a similar type of game
mike wilbon (2:10 PM)
They're both unstoppable and remember, Dirk is what, 11 years older than Durant, or something close to that. Durant's going to improve for the next four, five years...Dirk, though, will take smaller guys down in the post now and work them over...Durant doesn't do that yet, which is why smaller defenders can bother him some...But, yes, they're both largely unstoppable, and I can't wait to seem them go at it...
The Buzz is back in Chicago basketball again...Is Chicago for real again?
mike wilbon (2:12 PM)
Yes. And remember, the Bulls (like Miami) will be a team where all the old guys just looking to win are going to want to go and sign for less money to do so...Two agents told me this week their clients are dying to play with Rose and the Bulls could use either of them...So, yeah, with good health the Bulls should have a run, one would hope, of seven, eight years, which is a long, long time in professional sports these days.
how you doing mike. what do you see from Dallas in the opener - a team well rested and ready to play like they did against the lakers, or a team who have had too much time off/rusty, who may get caught out by a young, albeit tired, OKC team?
mike wilbon (2:13 PM)
I see Dallas being rusty in Game 1 and probably losing to an OKC which is all hyped up and rolling already...But I see Dallas winning the series.
mikey Z (Albany, CA)
Enjoy your ESPN commentary very much, Mr. Wilbon. I think it was Kenny Smith who said, and I think he is absolutely right, that you can draw NO conclusions about the next game from the previous one. I appreciate your not reading too much into the first game and agree that Miami will win at least one game in Chicago and it will go 7. I would not bet $ either way on who wins this one. That said, the Heat are a player away from being an all-time great team.What single piece do you think will move Miami from a potential champ to all-time elite status? PG? Hard to see LBJ and DWade giving up the rock more than they already have. Or is it a money 2nd unit player ala Monta Ellis or Jason Terry to provide SOME consistent non-big 3 offense? I think their D is championship-level now. Agree?
mike wilbon (2:15 PM)
I think Miami needs a big, a young active big who CAN score but doesn't HAVE to have the ball all the time...somebody, ironically, like Taj Gibson. And I KNOW Miami needs what you just suggested, which is to say a high-octane scorer off the bench, a Monta Ellis-type...I really like that suggestion...or maybe a Steph Curry-type, who can also play with and off the first unit. I think Miami is two players away from being a truly great team...two role players.
Won't both the Heat and Bulls only get better over the next couple years? Do you think there is a good chance this isn't the last Eastern Conference Finals we see with these two teams?
mike wilbon (2:15 PM)
This could be like the Pistons and Celtics or Bulls and Pistons, or going back further, Sixers and Celtics with Doc v. Bird...Who doesn't want to see a half-dozen years of that?
Seen any good movies lately?
mike wilbon (2:17 PM)
no, and I'm angry about that. I want to see this "Bridesmaid" movie. is that the name? It's just the time of years all I do is see basketball, with a little playoff hockey thrown in...That's all I've got...If you've got any suggestions (I hate horror flicks, don't do Sci-Fi, and don't do movies where all they do is blow stuff up. The King's Speech is my idea of a great movie...I need story, dialogue. I'm a writer, remember (regardless what I play on television)...So with that in mind, hit me!)
Jack Eckelkamp (St. Louis)
Agree to disagree. I think that Kidd will be worn-out by game 2 trying to guard Westbrook. How to you think Dallas will attempt to guard Durant.
mike wilbon (2:21 PM)
Kidd has been off for 9 days. What the hell are you talking about? Did you see him in the first two rounds of the playoffs with just a few days off? What? Dallas won't be afraid to put Shawn Marion on Durant, that's for sure...I think you'll see some DeSean (I can't remember how to spell that kid's first name, even though he was here in D.C. for years) Stevenson on him...Dallas will go small on Durant at times. I know Marion isn't the defender he used to be when he was in Phoenix and a first-teamer who used to guard Dirk in the playoffs...But Marion hasn't lost it all...Too bad Caron Butler isn't healthy because I'd like to see how Dallas plays with him in the lineup.
Taj Gibson (Chicago)
D-Wade should be happy that the hometown boy will be on a poster hanging in every kid in Chicago's room...only thing is its of me dunking on him.
mike wilbon (2:21 PM)
Oh my, Gibson just slapped the Heat with those two dunks, didn't he? My goodness.
Eric (Lindenhurst, IL)
What do you say to your ESPN colleagues like Skip Bayless who think the Heat really didn't try and they'll take care of business when they flip the switch?
mike wilbon (2:22 PM)
Haven't you heard me say, when it comes to Skip Bayless and basketball, consider the source. I'll listen to Skip anytime on football matters...on basketball, never.
Why does everybody keep saying that they won't shoot this well from 3 when they were wide open most of the time?
mike wilbon (2:23 PM)
Because they're not a high percentage shooting team from three, or even on deep twos...they're just not. And they WON'T be open like that, not in Game 2 because Miami's going to pay better attention to defensive assignments.
trev (nova scotia)
Hey Mike, aside from the highlight reel dunks...can we expect this type of contribution from Taj Gibson throughout the series?
mike wilbon (2:24 PM)
Rebounding and defense? Sure. Now, he might get into some foul trouble because I suspect Miami will really go AT him tomorrow night. But Taj plays that kind of defense all the time. He's a GREAT defender...
Raunak (Carbondale, Illinois)
I read Adande's article about Derrick Rose possibly being the NBA's best player(not just MVP). Would you agree? If you could start a franchise with one player, who would it be?
mike wilbon (2:26 PM)
Jon Barry and I played this game, sorta, yesterday in Bristol. Of all the players remaining, we put the All-Stars on a board and picked teams. I took Rose first, he took LeBron, I took Wade (giving me a superior backcourt) and then he took, I think, Durant and I took Dirk...I can take Rose first and be happy about it, yes. Am I biased toward Rose? Yes. But let's see how this series plays out. Maybe it's not far-fetched at all.
Would you trade Noah, Gibson, and 2 first round picks for Dwight Howard if he signed a long term contract?
mike wilbon (2:27 PM)
No. No chance. Why? Question: Suppose the Bulls win the championship this year? Why? You sound like Kornhesier, always ready to chase the more famous player even if you've got a better team.
Before the series start, the bulls were the underdog. After game 1, do you still think they are and also do you think the bulls can hold the big 3 the same way they did in game one?
mike wilbon (2:30 PM)
The Bulls are still the underdog, at least in Las Vegas where the odds, and therefore "favorites" and "underdogs" are established. I said on ABC yesterday I think the Bulls benefit from being the "underdogs" in their own minds, that Tibbs, Noah and Rose are perfectly suited for playing as underdogs. It fits their personalities. Playing as the favorite vs. Indy and ATL took some figuring out for them...And remember, these Miami players (leBron specifically) rejected playing in Chicago, and they know it (not that Wade and Noah really wanted them). Remember how Michael Jordan used these slights, real and perceived, to his great advantage? Rose is cut from that same cloth, as are Noah and Tibbs...They love being the dragon slayer and please don't tell me Miami isn't the dragon...
Mike what do you think about Pat Fitzgerald getting his contract extended until 2020? Do you think he is the right coach for Northwestern?
mike wilbon (2:33 PM)
let's end on this note: I'm thrilled as fan of college football, I'm proud as an alumn, and relieved as a member of the university's Board of Trustees, a body that is charged with making the right and proper big decisions for the university. I didn't want to see Fitz on the sideline in Ann Arbor or Nittanyville, two places that wanted him. He's an alum, as am I, and he should be coaching Northwestern football, which has only gotten better in his time as a player, assistant and head coach. Okay, gotta run and prepare for PTI today...Then to Bristol tomorrow for Western Conference Game, then to Chicago for Game 2, and so it goes...My fave time of year! Be well everybody, thanks for chatting, see you next Monday...MW
Don't the Bulls have a first round pick from Charlotte in the future? Is it lottery protected?
mike wilbon (2:33 PM)
I think they do, yes, but I need to check the status of lottery protection...remind me of this next Monday, please. thanks