Chat with Michael Wilbon
Welcome to SportsNation! On Wednesday, 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 Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. ET!
Buzzmaster (11:08 AM)
Hey folks, Mike will be by at 1:30 p.m. ET to chat on Wednesday!
mike wilbon (1:20 PM)
HI Everybody! It's 360 degrees of basketball for me the next few weeks...well, I am interested to see how Tiger plays this weekend at Bay Hill, considering how he's owned the tournament through his career...Still, it's 99 percent hoops, whether Brackets, the Heat, the Nuggets, or Kentucky losing to Robert Morris...here we go...
How does a state like Wisconsin keep fielding top shelf programs (Marquette & UW) in College B-Ball year after year? Thanks, keep up the good work keepin' it real!
mike wilbon (1:24 PM)
Basketball matters tremendously there...not that football isn't important at the college level because it is...but the greater Chicagoland area (Marquette's most famous players like Doc Rivers and D-Wade and Bo Ellis...though not Butch Lee) often come from Chicago...That whole area, including Milwaukee and even rural Wisconsin has a great tradition of high school basketball and it shows up...Don't forget Wisconsin Green Bay a few years ago had some success...A lot of programs are sustained on the kids from the northeastern tip of Illinois and the southern part of Wisconsin...The Badgers and Marquette certainly have a chance of doing some things this weekend in the NCAA Tournament...
Best hoopster from DC area in last 50 years? to me it comes down to old and new (Elgin Baylor or Kevin Durant?)
mike wilbon (1:28 PM)
Longevity matters PJ...So Kevin Durant may be at the top list in five years or so, but not now. THE greatest player from the D.C. area, without question, is Elgin Baylor. Go look at his career stats. And if you have the chance read the chapter in Bill Simmons basketball book on Baylor; it's brilliant. After Baylor--and I'm going to forget somebody, for sure--you've got Dave Bing who's in the Hall of Fame...you've got Adrian Dantley, one of the prolific scorers in the history of the NBA...Now, I don't think any of those three gentlemen won an NBA Championship, though Dantley was traded out of winning two with Detroit...Again, Durant will get there but before you move him ahead of any of the above, go and look at their career numbers...They're stunning
Hey Michael,I was wondering - how much of Popovich's success is because he's been the coach for so long and allowed to grow on the job? Was he considered a great coach when he started? Obviously it helps having Duncan (and later Parker and Ginobli), but I can't help but think organizations (in all sports) would be served by having more stability. I guess its just a question of how much do you think he's grown in the job and how many coaches get fired now a days because they don't win right away and give the players no stability to learn their role as players
mike wilbon (1:31 PM)
Pop, like Phil Jackson, is a brilliant strategist and master motivator...completely unorthodox in some ways in terms of how he sees the world...AND of course he's had great players. David Robinson and Tim Duncan are two of the five best big men in the last 30 years or so...The NBA is a players' league. But those players, while usually drafted, can also be found and developed. The scouting in San Antonio is simply superior...finding guys like Parker and Ginobili at the end of the first round...and then developing them...Pop is the spirit, it seems to me, of all that effort...The thing about his teams and Phil Jackson's teams is that they're simply smarter than most, they embrace intellect.
Andre (Tallahassee, FL)
What are your thoughts on the streak the Nuggets have going? Should the Spurs and Thunder be sweating come playoff time?
mike wilbon (1:35 PM)
Great question...Yes, apparently the Nuggets are a serious threat to even the Spurs and OKC...There's no way to look at that win in Oklahoma City last night by a rather comfortable margin and think anything else.The prevailing wisdom is that you can't really mount a real threat in the NBA playoffs without a star, and the Nuggets don't have one. Andre Iguodola is a terrific player, but not a star by NBA standards...Ken Faried is imposing but in a Dennis Rodman sort of way, not a guy who grabs the team by the neck and says, "let's go...nobody can stop me tonight!" The Nuggets don't have that guy BUT they have so much else,,,the athleticism, the way they attack the basket, their depth, unselfishness...They have, in my opinions, a GREAT coach in George Karl...Will they be able to play the way they do now in the playoffs over a 7-game series? That's where the skepticism is...but this 13-game streak is making us all re-think the possibilities.
Andre (Tallahassee, FL)
I know this is old news, but what are your thoughts on Art Carmody's firing? I think the guy just got unlucky this year with all those injuries.
mike wilbon (1:39 PM)
That's Bill Carmody, first of all...Look, I don't observe anything at Northwestern in an unemotional way because I'm an alum. AND, I'm on the school's Board of Trustees AND I'm involved in athletics, so I've refrained from commenting until now...The basketball program is better off now, by a ton, than it was when Bill took over...but we're a more ambitious place now, athletically...because the football team can win 10 games (just did) because the women's lacrosse team has won 7 titles and counting, because the golf team has won, because softball and wrestling and soccer and so many others have won, Northwestern is no longer a place where not winning is okay. Basketball has to be better, has to recruit better, has to reach the NCAA Tournament, at least now and again...(more)
mike wilbon (1:44 PM)
When you're in Chicago playing in a big conference w your games on TV all the time (whether Big Ten network or ESPN) you can't stand for just being the butt of jokes all the time, 30 years ago it didn't matter as much, didn't affect the entire "brand" if you will. It's not that we need to be Duke or Stanford, but if good basketball players who are terrific students happily go there and Vanderbilt and Notre Dame and Georgetown and Virginia...then Northwestern has to get in there and successfully recruit at least a few of those kids and coach them, too...We would expect that from our Journalism school, or Kellogg or any other academic endeavor...and we should expect that from the basketball program, too...and it's time to pursue that goal. Undoubtedly, the program has been stuck the last few years and its time to get it moving...aggressively...
Andre (Tallahassee, FL)
Who's your pick for most improved player? Gotta be Vucevic no? Guy came out of nowhere...
mike wilbon (1:46 PM)
Yeah, I think it is Vecevic...He's, what, third in the NBA In rebounding right now? Can you imagine getting rid of that kid to take on Andrew Bynum, who has infuriated coaches and teammates from Los Angeles to Philly...Vucevic has had a couple of 20-plus rebound games. Okay, granted both were against Miami...But in his first full season as a starter the kid is averaging 11-plus per game and is ahead of the rebounding rate Dwight Howard had in his first full season as a starter...Very impressive...
Alex Garcia (NC,chrlottle)
Do you think Ohio State and Miami can make it to the final four?
mike wilbon (1:50 PM)
Absolutely, yes! I don't have either in the Final Four. I think on my bracket I have Miami losing to Syracuse, though let's face it...those are dead-even teams and that's a pick-'em game...And I have Ohio State losing to New Mexico...I pick upsets. That's just my philosophy on bracket filling...So, I'm not picking all 1 and 2 seeds to advance, particularly not this season. I think any bracket with all 1 seeds is simply lazy...It's actually happened once in the 27 years the tournament has been set up this way and I can't see it happening this season...I picked a crazy number of upsets and looking at my bracket now, I don't think I've picked enough...Anybody who tells you he/she KNOWS who is going to the Final Four is a fraud...But yes, Ohio State and Miami are two of the teams I think could easily go to the Final Four...and each could also lose in the second round, though I don't expect THAT to happen.
Larry Fasano (Saratoga, FL)
If Minnesota beats UCLA is it really an upset because everyone is picking Minnesota. Also that must suck for UCLA to be the higher seed and everyone's like 'yeah, you're gonna get upset.'
mike wilbon (1:53 PM)
Well, there's one thing UCLA can do about it: beat Minnesota...Doesn't help UCLA that one of its best players, a freshman whose name I'm forgetting right now, was injured recently and will miss the tournament...I'm one of those people who picked Minnesota to win that game...I spend lots of time in L.A. and it's crazy how much pressure is on UCLA right now, on Ben Howland to not only win but be entertaining, to fill the renovated Pauley Pavilion, which isn't happening now...I just think all that gets to college kids...And remember, Howland is a guy who's reached the Final Four three times...Still, I think Minnesota will be sorta loose and Tubby Smith has been to the Final Four himself...This is one of my favorite first-round matchups.
Tony (Richmond, CA)
Will Rick Pitino reclaim the Bluegrass State from Calipari in the next three weeks to the dismay of the Big Blue Nation?
mike wilbon (1:55 PM)
I'm a Pitino fan back to his days at Providence College...and I think Louisville has as good a chance as anybody, but I don't LOVE this team. Actually, I don't LOVE any team in the tournament. I'm glad I'm not a bettor. Seriously, the last month or so I obsessed over college basketball and the only thing I was certain of was that everybody was going to lose. Didn't Indiana, a No. 1 seed, lose three of its last six games? Why is everybody so high on a team going into the tournament like that? I'n not saying a No. 6 seed will win the tournament; I'm just not in LOVE with the No. 1 seeds either, and that includes Louisville.
Lou Posey (Malcomb, MI)
I saw on PTI yesterday you-- to a certain extent-- ripped ESPN over their diving show and said something like you hope they don't fire you. You're here so obviously that didn't happen but did you get "the talk" from your boss?
mike wilbon (1:56 PM)
First of all, the show isn't on ESPN; it's on ABC but its the same company, the one that employs me...and NO, there was no call, no e-mail that I know of, no communication from anybody expressing displeasure over my comment on that show...If I made it a daily thing I'd probably get a call, but nooooo, not in this case.
Luke Dwyer (Ann Arbor, MI)
What schools do you think got in that didn't deserve it, and what schools didn't get in which you think got hosed?
mike wilbon (2:01 PM)
Did Cal really need to receive an at-large bid? I thought Maryland and Virginia were better, but that's probably a bias of mine since I live in one and used to live in the other...But the Pac-12 was so, well, bad...I didn't think Cal was a must...On the other hand, I have Cal winning a first-round game...AND we're nit-picking...I'm not going to the wall for any of the teams that didn't get picked either. They had their chances. I really like that the men's selection committee goes the exact opposite way from the BCS which goes to great lengths to favor the big schools...So overall I think the NCAA got it right...
Luke Jack Johnson (Columbus, OH)
Am I crazy to not have any B10 teams in the final four?
mike wilbon (2:02 PM)
Well, we'd be crazy together. I don't have any either and its MY conference...Maybe I'll go back and re-think that before submitting my official bracket...but I also think that the Big Ten was SO great this year, so brutal to navigate, that those teams might just be a little battered going into the tournament. I went from thinking the Big Ten might get 3 Final Four teams to fearing they won't get any...
Brian (New Orleans)
Which team is your dark horse for the NCAA tournament?
mike wilbon (2:04 PM)
I've got a couple...New Mexico and St. Louis...And now that I've said that they'll probably both go out early. By sleeper, by the way, I usually think you have to be 4th seed or lower...but New Mexico is a #3 seed, I think, and I've got them going all the way to the Final Four...I'm making an exception and calling them a sleeper because they aren't on many people's radars...
Matt (Livonia, NY)
The past few years in the tourney Duke hasn't really been playing like Duke; they've been getting knocked out earlier than expected, and this has really screwed up my previous brackets. With balanced weapons such as Curry running the point, Mason Plumlee inside, and Cook and Kelly shooting the three, should I trust Duke to go far in my bracket, or do you think a VCU or Lehigh will knock them out early again?
mike wilbon (2:05 PM)
You can make that case for about 25 teams that they could make a run or get knocked out in the second round. Yes, there's that kind of parity...And Duke is no different, though because of the balance you mention I think the Blue Devils might be better built to survive the tournament this season...
Deven (New York, NY)
Following up with Andre's question: Can the Nuggets really become the first team in league history to win a title without a superstar?
mike wilbon (2:06 PM)
Did the 2004 Detroit Pistons have a superstar? Probably not. Chauncey Billups and Rip Hamilton were All-Stars, for sure, great players (among the smartest in the league at the time) in their primes...but superstars? Probably not.
Deven (New York, NY)
Fact or Fiction: Miami will break the Lakers 71-72 record of 33 straight games
mike wilbon (2:07 PM)
I don't have Miami beating the Spurs in San Antonio a week from Sunday...That would leave them, I think, at 29...
Deven (New York, NY)
What would your reaction be if Miami's 23 game winning came to an end against Lebron's former team, the Cavaliers? I know Kyrie won't be playing, but, how likely is it that the team that drafted him pull off a stunner?
mike wilbon (2:07 PM)
No Kyrie and Waiters, no win for Cleveland. No chance. None. Zero. Fuggitabout it...
I don't get people killing Calipari for his post gm presser yesterday. He gave credit to RMU while sending a message to his players. Clearly he kept it behind closed doors most of the year and his guys didn't respond. I have no problem with it. You?
mike wilbon (2:09 PM)
None whatsoever...I'm w you. AND these morons who act like Kentucky has to win every single season or something is wrong should be sent to their rooms w no TV or internet for a week. It's stupid. Kentucky JUST WON LAST YEAR! This isn't UCLA in the 70s. Nobody's going to win every year...or every other, or every couple...
Mike, your old paper had an article today with John Wall basically stating he felt he was worth a max contract. Although it's true the Bulle ... Wizards have worked on building the team around Wall's skill set, and they have played much better since his return, I'm not convinced. Thoughts?
mike wilbon (2:10 PM)
I'm not convinced either...I'd have offered him up to try and get James Harden when OKC called the Wizards before the season...That's me. Now, having said that the Wizards are MUCH better with wall on the floor...But I want to see these final 15 games or whatever it is to make a judgement...This is a tough call...
Matt Korma (Ann Arbor, MI)
Miami worries me because if Larkin has a bad game it doesn't look good for them, and in a one and done boom season over. Agree?
mike wilbon (2:11 PM)
Okay, I'll grant you that...but suppose Otto Porter has a bad game for Georgetown? Can't we say this about most of the teams in the tournament?
wayne (va bch)
I don't hear many people yelping about the Knicks anymore, rather the noise that accompanies people jumping off the wagon. They seem hamstrung to some big contacts and are just old. What can they do?
mike wilbon (2:12 PM)
You sum it up pretty darned well...With the injuries the Knicks have they could win one series, but they can't beat Miami, which is what they were built to do...I'm not sure they could beat Indiana either, though the Pacers seem like classic bullies in that they beat all the little guys and back down the moment they see Miami or Boston...
Eric (Chicago) [via mobile]
Do you think the defending NCAAB national champ should automatically get in the next year? IMO I don't, you need to earn it.
mike wilbon (2:12 PM)
No. Earn it.
Andre (Tallahassee, FL)
Are you gonna release your bracket to the public?
mike wilbon (2:13 PM)
yep...probably late tonight...it'll be somewhere on ESPN.com as it has been these last few years...
I vote Greivis Vasquez for most improved player. New Orleans would have HALF as many wins if not for him. Fabulous year.
mike wilbon (2:14 PM)
I like that. I got to watch him play at Maryland and liked him, both his game and personally...I root for the kid and love watching his improvement and yes, he's on the short list for most improved...
mike wilbon (2:15 PM)
Okay, gotta run and prepare for PTI...Tony and I will talk brackets and other stuff...Nuggets for sure...Great chatting with you guys today...Back next Monday when we can dissect the weekend and see where the Heat stand...Thanks much...Have a great March Madness Weekend! MW