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, in addition to writing for ESPNChicago.com. 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!
Buzzmaster (12:52 PM)
Hey everyone, Mike will be here at 1:30 p.m. ET to take your questions!
Who do you see winning the NCAAB national championship?
Mike Wilbon (1:33 PM)
Hi Everybody...Here we are on the verge of March Madness, which not only is college basketball nirvana but a fascinating time, at least this year, for the NBA in its compressed season...If I had to pick a winner today it would be Kentucky. In addition to everything else Coach Cal and Kentucky has I think Anthony Davis is by far the best player in the country. I think he's appreciably ahead of everybody else, a player who is in the Tim Duncan, David Robinson territory in terms of impact...but surrounded by much more talented players than those two were...So Kentucky. Don't get me wrong, I love Syracuse and wouldn't that be a worthy NCAA Final game!
Bigger gamble; letting Dwight walk in free agency or trading him for lesser parts? Tanking next season and drafting high, plus cap space v. trading (using cap room) him for players with an already defined ceiling?
Mike Wilbon (1:36 PM)
Good question...Thing is, this would have been the season to tank. The draft probably isn't going to be as good as was (over)stated earlier but to go back to the last point made, Anthony Davis is a kid worth tanking for...He's not a kwame Brown or a kid who has been injured like Greg Oden...But to your larger points, the conversations I've been told of the last two weeks point to Dwight not being traded between now and March 15, the NBA trade deadline. Sure, anything can still happen. Somebody could try and overwhelm the Magic with an offer and Otis Smith would have to say, "Okay." But that offer hasn't surfaced yet, though nearly 3 weeks remain...I think Dwight will finish the season with Orlando, in large part because they think they can compete with anybody in the East. Now, if they start the second half by losing four games in seven days then that changes the picture, right?
This has actually been a really fun season to watch...not sure it's been so fun for the players and their bodies. Despite all the surprises in specific games (back-to-back-to-back, truncated training camp, little practice time), wouldn't you be shocked if it isn't OKC v. CHI or MIA?
Mike Wilbon (1:39 PM)
Yes. There is undoubtedly a predictability about the NBA, which is one of many reasons people are so gaga over Jeremy Lin. The season goes pretty much the way you expect it to in the NBA, year after year. David Stern even spoke of it in the context of prospects coming into the league. I suppose if the Knicks really hit their stride they could get to the conference finals...and I suppose the Spurs or Mavericks could upend OKC. Still, we're talking about a limited number of teams in each conf (Miami, Chicago, NY, and that's a stretch...OKC, Dallas, LAC, SA)...The thrill is in how it happens, not for whom it's happening, like, say, the NFL or MLB...
What is one realistic trade that the Heat or Bulls could make that would give them an advantage in a possible playoff battle?
Mike Wilbon (1:42 PM)
I don't think there is a reasonable one. The one player on the team who really, to me, had back slid a bit is Omer Asik, who some teams out there would jump at trading for...But he still has great value to the Bulls, especially in a season where health is an issue for virtually everybody. The Bulls aren't going to trade Taj Gibson or Ronnie Brewer. They're just not going to do it. If you look at the history of the franchise, it's just not the way it does business. They're going to ride it out, I would bet my own money, with this group...If Rip Hamilton can resume play in a couple of weeks and he gets into mid-season form by April 1 (plenty of time, by the way) then that's still a big addition...But in terms of getting some high volume scorer, who? they can't take on any more salary and people just aren't offering up guys who can score in exchange for, well, nothing.
Clinton (Houston, TX)
Gun to your head, what jersey will Pau Gasol be wearing after the trade deadline? Rockets?
Mike Wilbon (1:44 PM)
Lakers...But if there is a different jersey, let's face it, Houston would seem to be a good landing place...Question: who are the Lakers going to get who fits that club better than Pau Gasol? Okay, let's say they get a guard who is a good wing man for Kobe, what about the void created by Pau's departure...People see trades as a solution to everything...but Gasol and Bynum up front is a helluva tag team. I think the Lakers need to do a better job of utilizing it...
So, did last night make you want an OKC-Miami final? Might be the only thing that will be able to match the first or second round OKC-Denver matchup!
Mike Wilbon (1:46 PM)
If I can't get a Bulls-OKC final, then yeah, a Miami-OKC final...how can you argue against that from a pure basketball standpoint. Look, I think i said in the column posted yesterday on ESPN.com that OKC's starting lineup is at least as potent, as Miami's. I'm surprised the basketball community (and I'm talking mostly about former players and coaches) haven't been quicker to embrace OKC and in large part still find the Thunder flawed...
Manu has barely played a game all season, but do you think that means he will be well-rested for the playoffs or will he be out of shape?
Mike Wilbon (1:48 PM)
Great question...I'd say rested. He's too much a pro to just sit around feeling sorry for himself. Okay, there's going to be some rust. But we're talking, if reports are accurate, about a couple of weeks. Manu's been around forever. If he returns even in a month, the end of March, you mean to tell me a full month (playoffs don't start until end of April) wouldn't be enough to find his groove? I think it would be.
If both LeBron and Durant continue playing at the level they are now, do you see Durant getting the MVP? I would argue LBJ would be more deserving, but I also thought he was last year. Could expectations, voter fatigue, etc. (along with Durant's stellar play of course) once again determine the voting?
Mike Wilbon (1:49 PM)
Durant is have an exceptional year. LeBron is having one of the great seasons in the history of pro basketball. LeBron, unless there is some giant falloff or injury, is the MVP. Period. This comes fromm a guy who picked Durant in the pre-season as the likely MVP. LeBron is shooting 55 percent. You know how many times Kobe Bryant has ever shot 50 percent? Never. Only Michael Jordan, among volume shooters in the history of the league, has done that among non-big men...
Mark (Aurora, IL)
Hey Wilbon, love your work and thanks for taking my question. OK maybe my dislike of Milwaukee is clouding my judgment, but I think Ryan Braun got off on a technicality. I don?t care if the collector did keep the sample for two days waiting for the FedEx Office to open. He eventually got it there and they tested it and came up positive. Where is the moron Selig in all of this? I?m sorry to play conspiracy theory in this, but: 1) Milwaukee just lost Fielder, 2) Braun missing 50 games buries their season, and 3) Selig still has ties to the organization. I think it?s interesting that he has not spoken out (unless I missed it). Please tell me I?m not paranoid. I have loved Chicago Cubs baseball since I was a kid, but I really think Selig is a determinant to the game.
Mike Wilbon (1:53 PM)
I'm not going to tell you you're paranoid; you raise a question everybody is raising. Here's the thing: You can just say, "he eventually got it there." No. Doesn't fly. Who had access to it while it just sat there? Did anybody touch it, tamper with it? Rules exist in this process for everybody, the player and the people involved in the process. If you're guilt is presumed, you had BETTER make sure the chain of command is followed. We know where Bud Selig is on all this: did you listen to the statements issued by MLB, which means the Commissioner's office? The statements ripped Braun to shreds. If Selig, former owner of the Brewers, didn't want that statement issued it wouldn't have been. So, baseball is embarassed on a couple of levels. One, how can you screw up the basic process agreed to by the collective bargaining agreement. I don't call these "technicalities." They're rules. If you want players to adhere to them, management has to adhere to the same rules in the same ways. No exceptions.
Brandon (PHX, AZ)
Mike, love your work! Just wanted your take on Kobe. How many all stars would get their nose broken and a slight concussion and not only keep playing but demand to cover the best player in the world down the stretch? I have been a fan of his since high school and I know he has plenty of flaws but I think the league is gonna miss him when he's gone. The dedication, toughness, and love for the game is hopefully rubbing off on these youngsters at all star and olympic events!
Mike Wilbon (1:57 PM)
Well, that's my take as well...I wrote about Kobe a few weeks ago (you can still find the column on ESPN.com) and talked about how important he is to the league...hell, the history of the league. That he's out there every single night no matter what is something every player should be looking at. If you're a parent and you purchase a ticket to see the Lakers, here's what you can say to your kid: "I promise you, short of an act of God, we're going to see Kobe Bryant when the Lakers come to town." And you can rest assured knowing Kobe ain't gonna let your kid down. I care almost nothing about people's personal lives when it comes to this kind of thing; I care about how dedicated they are to their craft, to professionalism. How can anybody doubt Kobe Bryant on this level?
Dallas Sun (Dallas, TX)
How long will it take for the Suns to rebuild?
Mike Wilbon (2:00 PM)
How long does it take to say, "And the first pick of the draft goes to the Phoenix Suns?" I know, unlikely, but three years after winnning the lottery and drafting Derrick Rose the Bulls had a league MVP and were in the conference finals. If the Suns, heavy as the odds are against it, won the Anthony Davis Sweepstakes and put him on the floor with Steve Nash next year, along with the Morris kid and some of those Suns shooters...you don't think the Suns would be right back in business? So, that depends on luck, of course, but so did it for the Spurs to get David Robinson and Tim Duncan...The Suns have been able to stay afloat for years by making shrewd trades, and that's the other way...Problem is, I wonder how many tradeable assets the Suns have right now.
Is Orlando smart enough to dump Dwight Howard before he dumps them? If they don't follow in the footsteps of Utah and Denver rather than Cleveland, they have only themselves to blame when Dwight inevitably leaves them in shambles.
Mike Wilbon (2:01 PM)
Well, that's the view of a great many people and they don't need Denver or Utah to look at...only their own franchise which was left as road kill for awhile after Shaq left for Los Angeles. Of course, if a healthy Grant Hill in-his-prime is able to play alongside Tracy McGrady with Doc Rivers on the bench, my bet is Orlando would have been a factor right after Shaq's departure. But it's part of the conversation in Orlando whenever this comes up.
Rahim (Newark, N.J.)
Big Wil why not mention or fear of Dallas? Look at them slowly improving. Most of them know how to play together and there are some interesting additions in Carter and Odom. I feel they'll advance past Spurs and Clippers in the playoffs. Only the Thunder and Lakers scare me out west as a Macs fan. Your thoughts??????
Mike Wilbon (2:04 PM)
Didn't I just mention Dallas in my earlier answers? I think I said the Spurs could and the Mavs could beat OKC. Could. And the thing about the Mavs is they're playing with house money...they're feeling no real pressure as the season begins the second half...I like Dallas' position. Didn't realize until this weekend looking over some stats that the Mavs' defense is statistically better than it was last season WITH Tyson Chandler...Now, the misleading thing is that offense is way down throughout the NBA, still...Again, in the west I think the order as we start the second half is OKC, S.A., Dallas, Clippers...If Chauncey Billups was healthy and in the Clippers lineup that list might be a little different...but unfortunately he isn't...
Will Rondo be traded
Mike Wilbon (2:05 PM)
If the Celtics believe he isn't worthy of being the next great Celtics player around which the franchise can build a championship team, then trade him, by all means. But I don't think they know that answer yet...
Will this trade deadline end on a relatively quiet note? I don't sense the blatant urgency with moving specific players as it has been the the past few season.
Mike Wilbon (2:05 PM)
I don't see a big shake-up coming at all...not at all...
Mike,A consensus seems to be emerging among analysts that the OKC Thunder lack a sufficient inside scoring presence to complement their wing scorers come playoff time. Do you think Ibaka and Perkins are enough to make the finals or will Sam Presti look to add a big with a scoring touch to take the pressure off the team's jumpshooters?
Mike Wilbon (2:08 PM)
Yeah, that is the criticism...Charles Barkley told us that Friday on PTI...I see it and hear it, but I think Durant is versatile enough to score more inside than he does in the regular season. Russell Westbrook gets to the basketball whenever he wants...Perk is more a defensive threat...I hear the criticism...But Dallas isn't a monster threat inside...Okay, the Spurs are and maybe OKC would be vulnerable there...THE LAKERS are long and talented at the basket...Still, I think OKC is versatile enough through that lineup to score enough...I just don't know who out there is available to help with inside scoring who can be acquired through a trade.
I don't understand how MLB is so careless in their handling of the tests. A guys career is at stake, not to mention the Brewers season as well, and the test gets put in some guys fridge for the weekend? It's so bad on so many levels.
Mike Wilbon (2:08 PM)
Yes...thanks for that. That's the point the previous person wasn't really considering...Thank you...
I agree with Mark, why have a commisioner who previously had ties to a team?
Mike Wilbon (2:09 PM)
David Stern didn't have any ties, previously, to a team but look the conflict of interest he's been involved with this season!
Mike. I'm just wondering, is it almost impossible for a player who's team doesn't make the playoff's to win the MVP? I can't think of a player who ever won the MVP trophy who's team didn't make the playoffs. the only POSSIBLE MVP I could see of a team that doesn't make the playoffs is Kevin Love
Mike Wilbon (2:13 PM)
Kevin Love has ZERO chance at MVP...Hell, he might not make first-team all NBA...Who's he ahead of, Kevin Durant? no chance...Right now my first-team would be either D. Rose and Kobe or Chris Paul and Kobe (both D-Rose and CP3 have missed games so it'll have to play out over the course of the regular season), Howard at center, LeBron and Durant at the forwards. LeBron is the MVP, period, unless he hits the biggest pot-hole we've ever seen between now and end of April.Look, I love Kevin Love...everythng about his game, no "buts." BUT LeBron is having a Michael Jordan/Oscar Robertson caliber season. There's no MVP conversation, none at all at the moment.
No Mention of the GRIZZ ?? you guys will start mentioning the Grizz once Zbo gets back
Mike Wilbon (2:14 PM)
Yeah...Hey, I picked the Grizz as my Sleeper Team this season but we gotta see Zack back in the lineup to observe how they match up with OKC, the Spurs, Clips, Dallas...But they ended the first half on a little run, which is encouraging.
Damon (Santa Cruz)
Mike, true or false: one of the best all-star games last night?
Mike Wilbon (2:15 PM)
False. There were a couple of games back in the mid-90s when the players met beforehand and decided to play defense and the games were appreciably better...I think 1994 was one of them if you have access to some video clips...Only the last four or so minutes was good...Too much dunking, 4-on-nobody breaks. I don't care for that stuff at all.
Just read the article you mentioned regarding Kobe. Good article, and despite all the people that hate him, you can't disagree with the fact that he is one of, if not the hardest working player in this league. He's not the most gifted, but certainly the one most willing to learn. Is there anyone else you see work like Kobe in today's NBA?
Mike Wilbon (2:16 PM)
Thanks for taking a peek at it...But if Kobe Bryant isn't one of the most gifted, who is? I'd take Kobe on my all-time most-gifted team...
What changes would you do to make all-star weekend more watchable or did you enjoy it this weekend?
Mike Wilbon (2:19 PM)
I'd make all kinds of changes. I would have had 5 years worth of U.S. team vs. international team games. I'd make the dunk contest, as LeBron has suggested, a winner-take-all for $1 million or whatever one of the big NBA sponsors would offer, which is how you get the mega stars to compete. I'd have a game of 35-year-olds vs. rookies, a real game, again, maybe with winner-take-the-pot prizes (or donate it to charity)...I'd blow it up and come with something new, an All-Star weekend makeover...Maybe I'd try to get somebody's national team to play against some NBA sophomores or something...it needs new ideas...
Kevin Garnett (Boston)
ANYTHING'S POSSIBLE!!!!!! right??
Mike Wilbon (2:20 PM)
The Celtics finishing 6th, yes...But if they finish 7 or 8 I don't see it...
Is it too late to get Steve Nash back on Dallas? Dallas has the youth and Lamar Odom's nonguaranteed contract to get it done. Probably just wishful thinking, but I'd love to see a Dirk-Nash reunion in Dallas.
Mike Wilbon (2:21 PM)
You know, I like this suggestion...Problem is, what does Dallas give Phoenix to make the Suns feel like they're getting something for the future? And don't tell me Lamar Odom. I love in Arizona part of the year; I KNOW what Steve Nash means to that community, which is baskeball savvy...Tell me what the Mavs could give me! Young players and picks only...
What do you see happening with Kaman. Do the heat have any real shot at getting him?
Mike Wilbon (2:22 PM)
Yes. I think he's the guy who could actually improve Miami on some tangible level, come half-court basketball in the playoffs. yes.
Mike Wilbon (2:23 PM)
Okay gang, I gotta run...T-Korn is here screaming for me to come to the PTI pre-show meeting; perhaps I should...Been fun chatting with you today...Next Monday we're back on as we move full steam into March! have a great week everybody, and thanks again...MW