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 1:30 p.m. ET!
michael wilbon (1:20 PM)
Hello Everybody...Happy Monday...it's a basketball month, one of my two or three favorite three-week stretches of the year. so we'll get right into basketball, NBA and college...
Dan (South Beach)
Strangest basketball question ever, having nothing to do with the players. Have you heard anything about how the control of the Lakers is to be split up in the Buss family? Jeannie is taking the seat on the NBA Board of Governors. Any chance Jim can be forced out?
michael wilbon (1:24 PM)
Oh, it's not all that strange...it would take some doing by his own siblings to force out Jim Buss, and I haven't heard it suggested that anybody (the family, not fans) is interested in that. Jeannie Buss is truly respected by the other owners in the league and NBA executives. Everybody I've ever talked to about her presence in those meetings has said how smart she is, how much people hope she's the one running a franchise so important to the success of the league. BUT, men born before the Great Depression, as Dr. Jerry Buss was, aren't accustomed to putting daughters in charge of the family business. So, Jim has been in charge of basketball matters, and nobody seems all that certain that he's going to be any good at it in the long run. And now that Dr. Buss is gone, who beyond the siblings knows how control and operation issues will work out...
Do the Warriors make the playoffs?
michael wilbon (1:26 PM)
Wow...if you'd asked me that six weeks ago I'd have felt 100 percent certain...They've had such a slide and the team's defense has gone south, in particular. I do think they'll make it, in large part because Utah is on a bigger backslide and I don't see Portland or Dallas getting on a roll...So I think of the top nine teams in the West as of now, the Jazz will be the odd team out and Golden State will make it, though I think they get passed by the Lakers...The Warriors are a much better home team and finish with having 16 of their final 22 games at home...though they dropped one of those 16 the other night, to Milwaukee...
Zack Morris (Bayside, CA)
So the Sixers tanking drafting a center and signing a free agent with the Bynum money is the best case scenario right? Or do we believe Bynum plays for the Sixers at some point?
michael wilbon (1:28 PM)
I don't know the Sixers plans specifically, but I just know there's ZERO chance I would sign Andrew Bynum if I'm Philly. Zero. Which is what he's been since he got there. Big credit to my colleague Jalen Rose for calling this on the first of November, that Bynum would never play a minute for Philly...And it's all so mysterious...I wouldn't sign him, but somebody will if the 76ers don't. So, yes, I'd use the money to pursue another free agent...and it doesn't have to be a 7-footer in the classic "center" sense...Hell, if you can find another Nick Vucevic, who I think if 5th in rebounding in the NBA right now, I'd go that way rather than even thinking about Bynum.
Bryan (Delray Beach, FL)
Michael, will Derrick Rose return to the Bulls line up before the Miami Heat lose a game during their current winning streak?
michael wilbon (1:31 PM)
No. And if you heard the lastest yesterday, Rose telling our Doris Burke his hamstrings are on fire these days as he tries to get himself ready to come back, you'd realize it could be awhile, if at all...Fans don't have any memory at all these days, by and large, and forget about people like Gilbert Arenas who came back too quickly and has no career...When Amare Stoudemire came back after his microfracture surgery he hurt the OTHER knee...Players overcompensate and injure something else, a calf or hammy, all because they can't resist the pressure from people to come back right now...I love Rose for (so far) resisting and tuning out all the noise.
For over a year now everyone's been bashing Amar'e because he can't stay healthy and he hasnt' been playing up to his All-NBA potential. Did we all forget the fact that he is the reason Melo, Tyson, Kidd, etc. wanted to play for the Knicks in the first place? The massive uninsured contract, although it seems like it backfired, was the building block for creating a contender in New York.
michael wilbon (1:33 PM)
All true...But the contract was uninsured because doctors saw those x-rays (or whatever doctors look at now that are so much more sophisticated than x-rays) and knew Stoudemire's knees wouldn't hold up long, in all likelihood. That's why the Suns didn't re-sign Amare in the first place. I feel for him. The Knicks ARE in this position because Stoudemire bolted for New York. But...They're not going very far in the playoffs without him...They could lose in the first round...I don't think they necessarily finish 3rd by winning the Atlantic Division anymore. Boston and Brooklyn have time to catch the Knicks. That's going to the wire....
Mr. Wilbon, thank you for the knowledgeable basketball info you have provided all the viewers everytime you're on NBA countdown. My question to you is, is Wade & James the most dominant duo since Kobe
michael wilbon (1:36 PM)
"Since Kobe and Shaq" is that what you're asking? Sure. You don't think of the Spurs as having a "duo." They've had a threesome, with Duncan, Parker and Ginobili...So yeah...LeBron-and-Wade has to be one of the great duos ever, though they need to play together more than three years to solidify that...They're not Jordan and Pippen, with 6 championships and 10 years together, or whatever it was...I guess a championships moves them higher on the list than Stockton-and-Malone, though maybe not yet...But don't forget about duos from bygone eras, like Magic-and-Kareem, Russell-and-Jones, West-and-Wilt...
Do you think if Lakers clinch the 7th seed Kobe should be the MVP? How else has dealt with a coaching change, new system, Nash missing 20+ games, Dwight injuries, Pau injuries, and his injuries. And still put up 27, 6, and 5 at 34.
michael wilbon (1:38 PM)
Look, Kobe is having one helluva season, a fabulous season that is some ways, after 17 years of playing, is more amazing than some of his seasons in the mid-oughts when the Lakers were just sort of stuck in mediocre after the trade of Shaq...BUT LeBron James is going to win the MVP and it's going to be a landslide, so stop thinking about Kobe as MVP right now. He could finish 3rd, behind Kevin Durant...and he'll now probably finish ahead of Tony Parker whose going to be out a month...But LeBron is going to win the MVP and there's no drama to be held over that vote...
Looks like Lakers could climb as high as 6. But I think being 8 seed (and facing Spurs, if Spurs finish 1) is best match up for them. That's the only team in the top 3 (Spurs, OKC, and Clippers if that's the way they finish) that wouldn't overwelm Lakers with talent. Agree?
michael wilbon (1:41 PM)
What about the Lakers finishing with the 6th seed and playing the Clippers in the first round. God, I'd hyperventilate if that happened. And the Lakers would have a better chance to beating the Clippers than the Spurs, I think...Part of the problem is, I doubt the Spurs are going to finish with the No. 1 seed. OKC will. And the Lakers are NOT going to beat OKC in a 7-game series with that defense. Not gonna happen. So, yeah, the Spurs are a better matchup for the Lakers...but who doesn't think the Lakers would much rather play the Clippers? If you put it to a vote, who do you think the Lakers would pick?
Is it premature to put Lebron in the all time top ten while he is in the middle of his career?
michael wilbon (1:50 PM)
I think if LeBron wins two more titles to get to three, even if that happens the next to years, I'd put him in the top 10...Question is, who gets kicked out...My top 10 right now is Russell, Jordan, Magic, Kareem, Bird, Wilt, Oscar, Kobe, West, Shaq (God, that's a lot of Lakers)...I don't have Stockton or Malone, obviously, because I think a championship is absolutely necessary to be in the top 10...Who does LeBron knock out of the top 10?
Where does Kobe rank on your all time player list?
michael wilbon (1:50 PM)
Top 10...see above list!
Who has the better Euro-step: Manu or James Harden? I know Manu is sort of the master of the move, but Harden is so quick when he gets to the rim and is a great finisher.
michael wilbon (1:51 PM)
Harden has taken this to a new level, hasn't he? And sometimes refs need to simply call "traveling" because he does...It's more moving without dribbling than anybody since Patrick Ewing in his prime! LOL
chris billups (bristol, pa)
now that the lakers appear to be figuring things out, will the return of pau gasol disrupt team play?
michael wilbon (1:52 PM)
Damn good question...though Gasol is getting closer to coming back...shouldn't Gasol simply be the 6th man when he comes back? I think that's the only way to handle it.
The ravens gave Anquan Bolden an ultimatum. Pay cut or get cut. Assuming Bolden leaves Baltimore, how wise is it on their part letting one of Joe Flaccos biggest weapons get away?
michael wilbon (1:53 PM)
I'm a HUGE Boldin fan and I think the Ravens should go to great lengths to keep him...BUT, given what they just gave Flacco, you can't keep everybody. There IS a budget, a salary cap, and when Flacco demanded that much, he decided to sacrifice something on the field and in the locker room...
Mr. Wilbon, in your opinion which team is thebiggest threat to the Miami heat in the East and in the West?
michael wilbon (1:55 PM)
In the east, as we saw last night with Miami's 14-point win over Indy, only the Celtics could be considered a threat. That's it, that's the list. And the Celtics can't beat Miami either...but they can scare them, make 'em work...And obviously, OKC and the Spurs COULD beat Miami...I don't think the Clippers can, although their size and athleticism in the front court could hurt Miami...Thing is, the Clippers will never get the chance.
Is Steph Curry a better point guard than Kyrie Irving? Can't decide...
michael wilbon (1:56 PM)
No. Steph Curry is a terrific guard and he could be the heir to Ray Allen when it comes to anybody shooting like that from the backcourt...but Kyrie Irving is a better passer, much better playmaker and can score just as many points, even though he does it differently. AND, remember, Irving is only going to get better from 3...Didn't he, not Curry, just win the three-point shooting contest?
In your top 10, I'd take out West and replace him w/ Duncan.
michael wilbon (1:57 PM)
Yeah, Duncan deserves MAJOR consideration, especially if the Spurs win a 5th title with Duncan...But replacing West? I don't know...I'm of a certain age where West won a god...Thing is, West won only one title...All those losses to the Celtics may make him vulnerable on my list to both LeBron and Duncan...Great point you make.
During the Warriors - Rockets last week, JVG asked a very interesting question I think: is Mark Jackson a future hall of famer? This is tough one for me, but I would say yes. Your thoughts?
michael wilbon (1:59 PM)
Remember, the basketball HOF considers a person's contributions from the professional and college ranks, and Mark Jackson was an important player on the St. John's Final Four team back in 1985 (even though he didn't start)...Then he's one of the top three assist men ever, has been a broadcaster, now a coach...Yes, I could argue quite passionately for Mark Jackson...
I hate all the conspiracy theories, but is there any chance that Thibs prefers Rose to only come back for Game 1 of the playoffs, so that other teams can't have a good game plan for him?
michael wilbon (2:00 PM)
No. None whatsoever. Hell, how would Thibs know what to expect from his own team at that point? No.
I think West gets kicked off your list.
michael wilbon (2:01 PM)
My bet is you're under 40 and have zero idea what Jerry West was as a player...You might end up being right, by the way, about who has to come off the list...just wondering if you have any idea of West's greatness...There's a reason why he, not others, is "the logo."
Omar (Jacksonville, FL)
Mr. Wilbon, I need your help settling a debate. I am from NYC & have a barber from Chi-town. I contend that the Chi is a bball town, while he says it is more of a pigskin town. Our cities have a long standing bball beef
michael wilbon (2:05 PM)
Love this question...The thing that I think separates Chicago (and Detroit) from, say, Boston is that Chicago is a sports town. The same people root for all the teams. (Okay, there's a split, about 70-30, between the Cubs and White Sox)...But people who root for the Bears also root for the Bulls and also root for the Blackhawks and also root for (usually) the Cubs. It's not like New England where my perception is there are many, many more people who describe themselves as Red Sox fans who don't connect at all with the Celtics...that's my perception and I'm sure many New England people root for multiple teams in Boston...BUT, I KNOW people move from season-to-season in Chicago. They are more "Chicago sports fans" than fans of one team...Chicago is into whatever is happening now and will migrate seasonally to whatever is happening next. I don't see Bulls fans just withdrawing from sports until November once the NBA season is over...But that's just my take...
I'm crazy to suggest that coach spo is the frontrunner for COY ?? if not how do you got as the COY ??
michael wilbon (2:06 PM)
Hmmm...damn good question. I hadn't even thought of it...Yeah, Coach Spo I guess just ahead of Coach Pop...though I'm gonna let it play out until the very end before I turn in my vote...
McLean Todd (Memphis )
Are the Grizzlies pretenders or contenders?
michael wilbon (2:07 PM)
Contender...I think. I admit, I thought dealing Rudy Gay was going to be a disaster, but that isn't the case. Memphis has won 12 of 13, I think it is...Does Memphis have a puncher's chance of beating OKC? Yes. Spurs? Oh yes, didn't they just beat the Spurs in a series? So, yeah, I'd say a contender...
Kevin (Los Angeles)
Do you think Dwight will have a worse reception than Lebron did returning to Cleveland?
michael wilbon (2:09 PM)
No. Nobody in Los Angeles cares about Dwight Howard. He's not FROM Southern California, and even if he was greater L.A. doesn't sling to locals like midwestern cities, like Cleveland which hasn't won anything in a million years and was counting on LeBron, a native son, to deliver them titles...No, people in SoCal aren't emotionally invested in Dwight Howard. He just got there, and from the feel of it right now people's expectations aren't all that great. It could all change, and likely will if he re-signs there, but...
What's the ceiling for the Nuggets in the playoffs? Being the 'team no one wants to play", or more? Depends if Ty Lawson does his best Tony Parker impersonation?
michael wilbon (2:12 PM)
I love watching the Nuggets and I'm a big George Karl fan...With that home court record (27-3) the Nuggets could give somebody hell but they're not cut out to beat OKC or the Spurs. The Clippers? Maybe...But that matchup isn't reasonable because Denver is likely to finish 5th (could beat out Memphis for fourth) and the Clippers seem solid for third...So the Clippers will get (I think) the Spurs in the second round while even if Denver beats Memphis, the Nuggets would play OKC in the second round...
Scott (Los Angelese)
Hi Michael, if you could pick one player to hit a game winning shot. Where would KOBE rank among the best to ever do it?
michael wilbon (2:12 PM)
Way up there...way, way up there with Jordan and Bird among the volume shooters. Never forget Robert Horry, by the way. West. Magic. Way, way up there...
Tony (Richmond, CA)
Does Tiger end his drought at majors this year?
michael wilbon (2:13 PM)
Jake (Collins, TX)
I think wo of the Lakers smartest moves recently were getting rid of Odom and Bynum. Do you agree?
michael wilbon (2:13 PM)
Turns out probably so, yes. Although, I think Odom's slide started BECAUSE he wasn't playing for the Lakers.
Mike I think Kevin was asking about Howard reception on tuesday in Orlando?
michael wilbon (2:14 PM)
Oooooooohhhhhhh, Okay, my bad, thanks for that...Naaaa...Nothing I've ever seen compares to Cleveland's heartbreak over LeBron leaving...well, not since the Dodgers leaving Brooklyn.
Wilbon, I'm pretty sure the question about Dwight Howard has to do with his return to Orlando tomorrow night.
michael wilbon (2:14 PM)
That was the answer to this question, in case it didn't print...Sorry about that.
Are "analytics" the future of the NBA? Seems like every successful team is using them nowadays.
michael wilbon (2:16 PM)
All teams are using them...and old-fashioned scouting techniques...People think Daryl Morey, Houston's very creative GM and a good Northwestern University man, totally gives himself over to analytics and nothing could be further from the truth.
Sonny Singh (Manhattan, NYC)
Do you think Mariano should be voted into the Hall of Fame unanimously?
michael wilbon (2:17 PM)
Yes. But it won't happen. If Babe Ruth and Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio and Willie Mays and Hank Aaron, JACKIE ROBINSON, Cal Ripken Jr. weren't voted in unanimously, what makes you think Mariano Rivera will be? Some moron voting will feel there's a tradition to be upheld to not let anybody in unanimously. I think it's disgraceful...
Mike, is there a reason that star players like Griffin and Harden (who I think is THE absolute worst offender of the rule) don't so much as get a warning for flopping? Every time Harden travels through the lane (another violation that refs never call) and has a defender within 2ft, he acts like he got shot. It's ridiculous. Why is the league overlooking this?
michael wilbon (2:18 PM)
I don't know that the league is overlooking it, but it should be stopped, period.
So when does the Heat's winning streak come to an end. If they can get past Milwaukee and Boston I think it could go until they play the Spurs at the end of the month. Thoughts?
michael wilbon (2:19 PM)
i picked Milwaukee the other day, so I'll stick with it. The Bucks beat Miami by 19 points in Wisconsin earlier this season and took the Heat to OT in Miami...I'll stick with the Bucks...
Where do you put the Dr? While known for his highlight reel plays and scoring, he's still one of the best all-around performers in history...4+ assists, 8 boards, 1.7 blocks and 2 steals along with a 50% mark from the field. At 6'6" he clearly played the entire game and is almost as historical as West when it comes to recognition for his thumbprint on the game the last 40 years. Just outside the top ten? Thanks.
michael wilbon (2:22 PM)
Great question...Probably around 20...I don't have a Bill Simmons-style ranking and I'd never do it by statistics alone. Impact has to be assessed and that's hard and not automatically tied to some index or metric...I'd have to have some guys ahead of Doc, much as I love him, like Moses Malone Hakeem who people are forgetting...probably Scottie Pippen, though he had nowhere near the cultural impact...maybe Rick Barry, who people don't like nearly as much as Doc, who is beloved...and Barry suffers for that...I know my friend Bob Ryan would have Bill Walton in the top five...I put emphasis on a greater body of work, so I don't have Bill Walton as high...Oh, Elgin Baylor is higher than Doc. Elgin begat Doc. You want to find out about Baylor read the chapter on him in Simmons great Basketball Book...It's mandatory reading. It's brilliant...
Andrew (San Jose)
You need a 3-pointer to send a game into overtime....do you pick kobe over Jordan?
michael wilbon (2:24 PM)
Not really. Look at their three-point numbers. They're very close and Jordan's career number is dragged down by the fact that he took and made so few the first four years of his career. He didn't even get higher than 20 percent until his 5th or 6th year in the league. So, by the time the game evolved to emphasize the three-pointer, Jordan's percentage is greater for the rest of his career than Kobe's...Bottom line, I'll take either one. But there's almost nothing I'd take anybody ahead of Jordan in...
I'd replace Shaq with Hakeem on your top 10 list.
michael wilbon (2:25 PM)
And I wouldn't fight you...I really wouldn't...Not hard. I can argue either one over the other...
michael wilbon (2:27 PM)
You guys were on fire today with questions/issues...I wish we had gotten to some college basketball questions, but it was 99 percent NBA in the que, and I enjoyed the hell out of every question...I gotta run and prepare for PTI...Hate to stop because this is so enjoyable...We'll chat Monday, the day after Selection Sunday...And we HAVE to deal with 50 percent college hoops next week, with Bracket stuff. I just don't care that much about the NBA the day after Selection Sunday...With that in mind, see you Monday! Thanks for chatting. Have a great week. MW