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!
mike wilbon (1:08 PM)
HI Everybody...March Madness, Tiger, NBA Drama, Tebow, Parcells...Damn, this is a pretty compelling stuff to start the week in sports...
Look into your crystal ball and tell us who is starting at QB for the jets in December.
mike wilbon (1:10 PM)
Oh, Mark Sanchez will start the season. I think the big question is how many bad games (halves) does he get to have before they're chanting for Tebow? Sanchez has shown he can be a little fragile already...and now you throw this into the mix? I don't believe for one second Jets executives properly anticipated the uproar this would cause. Tebow in metropolitan New York?
Mike (New York)
Did Durant show last night that he can completely dominate Lebron James?
mike wilbon (1:12 PM)
Why does everything, even one NBA game, have to be so overstated. OKC whipped Miami's butt last night. That's it. Why would you draw any other conclusions? It's not the NFL or college football or March Madness where one game in the regular season carries THAT kind of meaning. You one of those people who after GAME 1 of a best-of-seven decides you know the outcome? Durant can dominate a game, even LeBron. LeBron can dominate a game, even Durant. But it could very well be a championship series preview...
Which Western Conference team not named the Thunder do you see making the finals and having a decent chance at beating the Bulls or Heat in a 7 game series?
mike wilbon (1:14 PM)
That franchise we like to call "The Los Angeles Lakers." I know, I know, they got bounced at home last night by Memphis (remember, I picked the Grizz to be in the conference finals this June)...Still, any team with Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum HAS to be a serious contender. And once the Lakers, with all their championship experience, are in the Finals, you would bet against them, why?
Sam (Las Vegas)
Is Lebron James overrated? and Kevin Durant underrated? to me KD is the best player in the NBA
mike wilbon (1:16 PM)
could be...Right now my MVP list, in order, would be LeBron, Durant, Dwight Howard...That's my Top 3 with Kobe, Tony Parker and Kevin Love lurking...The top two could switch, If OKC really flexes here at the end why wouldn't a person vote Durant ahead of LeBron? But there's another month to go. Let's see.
Hi Mike: What can we do about all the homer announcers in local TV markets? I think they're uneducated about the game, paranoid, and flat out detrimental to the NBA. They whip up the local audience's acceptance of conspiracy theories, which is not good.
mike wilbon (1:19 PM)
I love it, actually. Don't get me wrong, you're right about them being Homers. No question about that. But I disagree with you totally about the guys being uneducated...They're some of the most basketball savvy guys around. I listen to ALL the broadcasts. I know a guy like Eddie Johnson in Phoenix is not only educated...After 18 yrs in the NBA he's masterful...Now, ALL the guys are biased and that's probably what annoys you. They's ALL paid by the team, so they're not going to be "objective" as you'll hear on a national broadcast with ABC/ESPN and TNT...But that's not the purpose. Why I watch the Bulls I want to hear Funk and Stacey King give me the game from the perspective of somebody who cares about and roots for the Bulls. Same for every team...I love the fact that on the NBA package I have the option to hear either broadcast...Makes it fun...
Brandon (The Basketball Blog) (THE Winchester, Kentucky)
Really Mr. Wilbon, the Bulls' current stretch HAS to be worrisome for the rest of the NBA. They are winning and beating good teams without D-Rose. What does this say to the rest of the NBA?
mike wilbon (1:21 PM)
Regular season stuff doesn't really say anything to the rest of the NBA. Suppose Rose comes back a little shy and alters his playing style 10 percent? Does that change the Bulls, and if so for the better or worse? Suppose Rose can't get healthy this season and it's just one of those years? The post-season in the NBA is so unlike the regular season. The Bulls and Spurs had the best records in the league last season, and neither reached the Finals, right? Look, I think THE BULLS have to be encouraged about how they've navigated the season with Rose missing so many games and no contribution from Rip Hamilton, but I don't think the elite teams in the NBA are, beyond impressed, really that concerned yet.
I think the conference finals are pretty much decided. Spurs-Thunder in the West and Chicago- Miami in the east. Do you agree?
mike wilbon (1:22 PM)
Watch the Lakers! And don't discount Orlando in a second-round upset...though I do think we'll see Miami-Chicago and either OKC-Spurs or OKC-Lakers.
What do you think of the Spurs play so far? I know its only the regular season and the playoffs are what really matters, but do you think they have a legit chance of making it to through the playoffs as a championship contender? I really like the Jefferson for Jackson move!
mike wilbon (1:24 PM)
I'm impressed. Who isn't? The way Pop has woven young guys into the fabric of that team, while still depending on Duncan, Parker and Ginobili is just genius...I love watching the Spurs play. If I'm voting for coach-of-the-year (and I will) my leading candidates are Pop and Thibs and Stan Van...It's still a three-way race for me right now.
Hey Mike, Do you think if the Bulls had a healthy team for the entire season they could break the 72-10 mark in a normal year?
mike wilbon (1:26 PM)
Not a prayer. There's no team in the league that can do that. There's no historically great team in the league right now, a team with the talent, savvy, experience and raw ambition of the 1996 Bulls or the 1986 Celtics or the 1987-88 Lakers or the 1967 Warriors or the 1972 Lakers...
Mr.Wilbon, do you think the spurs are better than the thunder now. They are not the old horse as all of us thought. They are developing a very good young core and they seem to be performing better than what everyone expected. Do you think they can beat the thunder in a 7 game series.
mike wilbon (1:28 PM)
No, I'll still take OKC in a 7-game series with San Antonio. Durant is one of the three best players in the NBA. Moving Westbrook off the ball at times in favor of Derrick Fisher should improve the team's decision making and maximize Westbrook's physical superiority...OKC's starting lineup is the best in the game, period. That said, I think the Spurs could give OKC all it wants and then some in a 7-game series...Either OKC-Spurs or OKC-Lakers...either sets up as a compelling conference final series.
Mike (San Jose, Ca)
Three years ago Kenny Smith said in 3 years Kevin Durant would be the best player in the NBA. Are we starting to see that now? he made Lebron look very pedestrian didn't he?
mike wilbon (1:29 PM)
One game...Chill out. Durant MAY BE a better player in the immediate future but those things aren't decided by one game in March. This is the big boys, not the NCAAs.
Lets get a football question in here. We know how fans and players have reacted to the news of Sean Payton's suspension and the overall bounty report released by the NFL. With that aside, have there been reactions from the other coaches? I feel like it would be a tense situation walking into the coaches meeting today knowing a fellow head coach did nothing to stop a system in place that could have been detrimental to a player's long term health.
mike wilbon (1:32 PM)
Thank you for that! And great question, too. We're going to find out since Payton is going to the NFL spring meetings this week...which I must say surprises me some. I wonder about tension, too. BUT, remember, the coach's fraternity is a tight one. As competitive as these guys are with each other they're also protective of one another, and it's not like THEIR teams have never had bounties. Most of the teams in the NFL have had some of this kind of behavior over time..maybe not on their watches, but at some point. I've had too many former players tell me this was business as usual back in the day...Now, I understand Roger Goodell deciding there's no place for it in the game, but let's not act like Payton (who I think deserves the suspension he got) and the Saints are the only team where this kind of thing happened.
Kevin (Austin, TX)
Wilbon! My man! Dude, I need someone to really be objective here. OKC is in trouble. If took them crazy time to barely beat Minnesota, and let Love thrash them. How can they represent the West, if they're unable to play defense?
mike wilbon (1:36 PM)
People so misuse the word "objective." You're not being objective, you're expressing your opinion...one that quite a few people have, by the way. But, it's no insult to get popped by Kevin Love. He's the first player on my all-NBA second team...Right now, LeBron/Durant/Howard/Kobe/Wade is my first team (I know, I don't have a traditional point guard...too bad)...second team Love and Westbrook and probably Tony Parker are already locks...holding the other spots open to see what happens this last month. Maybe Bynum is the second-team center...that would leave one spot, maybe a surprise, maybe Paul Milsap...Watch out for Utah...maybe Aldridge, though that team is so bad now...
Wilbon what you think of the NBA shortened season? Are you looking forward for them going back to the 82 game schedule? I am enjoying all these games every night and don't feel like the season has dragged on like previous years.
mike wilbon (1:37 PM)
No...I hate the 82-game season. I think the NBA should start Dec. 1 and have a 70-game season...But that ain't gonna happen...They 82-gamer next year will seem like a total bore, I'm thinking.
Any quick Mad Men thoughts?
mike wilbon (1:40 PM)
First, I was more wired for Mad Men than the regional finals this weekend. I'm glad it's back. Even though I grew up a sit-com guy, typical of those of us who came of age in the 1970s, I'm a one-hour drama guy now. That's all I've consumed the last 20 years. And I think Mad Men, for its time, is right there with Dallas and The Sopranos for their time as genius television. I thought last night's two-hour reintroduction was slow...but I'm okay with that. The Sopranos used to do that, slowly set up three or four major plot lines...Mad Men will do it for 2, 3 weeks then BAM! I don't like the absence of Betty Draper but the previews suggest she shows up next week...The French dance number by the new Mrs Draper was...well, Yes Sir!
Sam (San Jose)
Golf coach Hank Haney? What about "turncoat publicity seeking book shiller Hank Haney" instead? I'm not Tiger's biggest fan, but what Haney has done really aggravates me. Why would anyone trust him as either a friend or coach?
mike wilbon (1:48 PM)
Oh, I completely agree with you...But at least now we have more to talk about with Tiger. I'm not running around saying "Tiger's back" because Tiger didn't become Tiger off winning one tournament...Having said that, it's exciting as hell that he's back, it's good for golf, good for sports, good for media, for PTI ratings. You can root against Tiger, but in the same spirit as rooting against the Yankees or Celtics in previous decades. The day in sports is so much more relevant if Tiger Woods is hoisting a trophy on Sunday. So I HOPE he comes all the way back. To me, that means winning a major and three or four times this year, at least...And again, your point on Haney is right on the money. But I don't know why Tiger didn't have him sign a non-disclosure form as an employee...
Wilbon's prognosis for the Knicks:
mike wilbon (1:51 PM)
I think they'll make the playoffs. But they have so many fallbacks and I don't understand why. It's a franchise that constantly fails to meet expectations...in ANY era for 40 years. The moment you think the Knicks are ready to break through they don't. The only time they outperformed expectations was that year they finished 8th (1999 abbreviated season) and won that bizarre series with Miami and reached the Finals against the Spurs...Otherwise, they fall short. If they finish 8th this year there certainly won't be any expectations...maybe that's the route the Knicks have to take. Because one moment they play tough D, share the ball and look like a division winner...then they get blown out by Toronto...Go figure!
Mr. P.T.I, Who would you build your team around, LeBron or Durant?
mike wilbon (1:52 PM)
Either. Like I'd waste my time lamenting that I have one, but not the other?
I know KD had a huge weekend, but K-Love wasn't too far behind. Had 50 points on Friday in a great game in OKC and another 30/20 last night. As crazy as it sounds, I think he deserves to win Most Improved Player AGAIN this year.
mike wilbon (1:53 PM)
Naw...we knew K-Love was a great player coming into the season. Was he third-team all-NBA last year; I'd have to look that up. He's going to 2nd team this year, at least on my ballot...But he is a great player...he's separating himself at a position that is truly stacked right now...
Edward (South San Francisco)
What's your thoughts on the passing of Bert Sugar?
mike wilbon (1:58 PM)
Thanks for asking...I covered quite a bit of boxing in the 1990s and there's NOBODY who knows more about his sport than Bert Sugar knew about boxing. NOBODY. I was in awe when I was around him the week of a big fight. If you didn't go over and just listen to Bert Sugar then you didn't know as much as you could know about the fighters, their trainers, their cornermen, all of it. And to me, because of the intimate access, the people around boxing knew more about their sports than any other sport...You could talk to Mike Tyson the day before a fight while he was getting a rub down and eating a burger...Kornheiser tells the story of talking to Ali in his hotel room while Ali was laying in bed eating grapes. Are you kidding me! You think you can get an hour like that with Tom Brady or Peyton Manning? After the fighters themselves, the people I wanted to listen to were Sugar, Manny Steward, guys who spent their lives with boxers...Sugar's death is another element of boxing that's gone...The whole thing that I loved so much is going, going...
Charles McCarthy (LA)
Mike, Kobe was upset at the time of "The Benching" last night but he wasn't exactly shooting the Lakers in the foot. Being a LONG time Kobe fan who never misses a gameI can honestly say there have been a few times where said action would be justified...Last night was not one of them and Mike Brown should have known better than to poke the bear...agree?
mike wilbon (2:02 PM)
Great question...I'm conflicted...As a longtime Kobe watcher, I think it could have been justified. He was so upset he just wasn't helping the team, was he? I gotta hear more about this...And I will in the next day or two...Even the great, great players need a "timeout" every now and then. I remember MJ sitting on the bench during a Finals game against Portland, waving a towel as Phil Jackson had Scottie Pippen, Stacey King, BJ Armstrong, Bobby Hansen and maybe Scott Williams playing the fourth quarter OF THE FINALS! that would be so unthinkable today. Sports Talk radio would explode...But Phil did it. Mike Brown did it, and of course, it didn't work. And Brown and Kobe don't have the relationship Phil and MJ had...I wanna see how this plays out in the next game or two, see if Kobe is pouting or sulking. I do NOT believe Kobe would do that...I just can't see it.
Rob (San Antonio)
Speking of boxing do you ever think we will return to the heyday of the heavyweights?
mike wilbon (2:03 PM)
No, I don't. The big kids in American cities, particularly, are too seduced by football and basketball to box anymore. And the smaller ones are into MMA...No, I think boxing is dead to the mainstream culture of sports as horse racing is...makes me cry.
Mike, do you think the Miami Heat yielding the hood in memory of Trayvon was a good thing for Miami? Should that kind of support be intertwined in sports or left seperate? Sports should be entertainment not news coverage
mike wilbon (2:08 PM)
Great, great question and it sounds like we disagree. I LOVE what the Miami players did. LOVE it. For 80 percent of the 20th century, maybe longer, athletes LED the discussion of culture and politics in sports. Not participated in...LED it. Whether we're talking about Jackie Robinson and Arthur Ashe, or Tommy Smith and John Carlos, or Billie Jean King or Jim Brown or Bill Russell and kareem or Oscar Robertson or Gary Player or Roberto Clemente, elite athletes stood out there unafraid and said, "An athlete is not ALL that I am," and those are the athletes, whether I agree with them or not, I admire most. Lately, big money has made them afraid, afraid to risk what they have...And it's helped create a couple of generations of self-centered people who know nothing of sacrifice...that could be said of the entire generation of which I'm a member, not just athletes. Nonetheless, I applaud the members of the Heat for their thoughtful expression. And if people are offended, they should just turn on Nickolodeon or E! or MTV...I like my superstars to have nerve and a point of view and the courage to express it...
Mike you have been in the Pacers corner all year. What do you make of them as of late. What should I be expecting come playoff time?
mike wilbon (2:09 PM)
Got too full of themselves too quickly...That's gotta be mental. they've got too much talented to roll over like dogs at home against the Knicks. they should have been embarrassed about that performance, among others...Then again, they pop up and rip a team...too erratic...I don't expect much from them in the playoffs. Maybe not having that one great player is what they lack.
who makes the playoffs the Rockets or Jazz? why?
mike wilbon (2:11 PM)
Jazz...Love their young players, how they interact. They should have won that 4OT game in ATL last night...Milsap a stud...They can score inside, have shooters, role players, athletes, a bench, a coach who'll ride whoever is playing well...LOVE what Utah is doing...
You have really long responses and I compliment that. What is your words per minute that you type???
mike wilbon (2:12 PM)
Ha! Was as high as 66 words a minute as a freshman in high school...Glad typing was my very first class as a high school student, when I was 13 years old...Now? Can't be more than 35 words a minute...maybe when I'm on deadline at a live event and scared to death of blowing deadline...Oh wait, I don't actually do that anymore! I guarantee I was up to 60 words a minute as that piece of Evander Holyfield's ear landed a few feet in front of me on the mat in Las Vegas! LOL
If K-Love is a top 10 player, how come he cannot lead his team into the playoffs?
mike wilbon (2:14 PM)
See, THAT's the question...about his impact. I don't know the answer...gotta do some asking around about that...But 30-20 games are unreal...The kid gets 50 one game, then 30-and-20...these are Wilt numbers, yet the impact on the game isn't what it seems it should be...I don't know. And I think Love, these past few weeks, has separated himself from Blake Griffin, from everybody at a stacked position, power forward...
Jason J (NYC)
Love is second team All-NBA? Behind LeBron and Durant obviously. Who's your other second team forward this year? I'd want to give it to Dirk for his amazing playoff run last year, but the stats probably favor Blake, right?
mike wilbon (2:15 PM)
I think Dirk...But I want to see how the last few weeks play out...Griffin has backslid a little, at least to me. Milsap, in a lot of ways, is having as good a season as Dirk and their teams have similar records...
mike wilbon (2:17 PM)
Goodness, we didn't talk about the NCAAs at all. I picked Kentucky and thee's no reason to run now. They've got the best team but the WORST matchup for them. Kentucky playing Louisville in a national semifinal is akin to Georgetown paying Villanova. Louisville LIVES to beat Kentucky in this situation...Worst matchup possible for the Wildcats. Still I'm with 'em!Okay, gotta run and prepare for PTI...Talk to you next week, Thanks for chatting...MW