Chat with Michael Wilbon
Welcome to SportsNation! On Thursday, 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 Thursday at 1:30 p.m. ET!
Buzzmaster (2:12 PM)
The Finals are a busy time for Mike...he got tied up again, so we'll have to move his chat and try to get him Thursday at 1:30 p.m. ET. Sorry for the changes.
If- and this is a big 'if' The Spurs go on to win the championship- is there a legitimate argument to be made that the Heat were a Rajon Rondo injury away from not having won a title? Luck plays a bigger role in success that any of us care to admit.
mike wilbon (1:34 PM)
Hi Everybody...thanks for joining...perhaps you're locked into the U.S. Open as well, as I've been this morning here in San Antonio while recovering from Blackhawks-Bruins Game 1 and waiting for Heat-Spurs Game 4......This is a question that will annoy Heat fans, of course, but a "what-if" game that seems fair to play...You're right, "big if" on whether the Spurs can win this series...I bet the folks in OKC feel they'd have had another shot at the Heat if Russell Westbrook hadn't gotten hurt...We can do this over the years, looking back, to the three-peat Lakers, who forced Portland into an all-time choke in a Game 7 of the conference finals AND got a gift when the Kings had victory stolen from them two years later...Suppose those Lakers had won one title, as could have happened? ...History is not going to treat the Heat all that kindly, I suspect, if Miami loses this series to the Spurs...but perhaps this will be more about the Spurs success, if they win, than Miami's failure. AFter all, we're talking about a four-time champ already in San Antonio...
Deven (New York, NY)
Is this the biggest game of Lebron's career, in terms of legacy?
mike wilbon (1:36 PM)
No...That Game 6 in Boston last year in the Eastern Conference finals was the biggest...I'm not saying other games and series won't be remembered and help shape his legacy...but tonight's game isn't as big as that one. Suppose MIami hadn't even gotten to the Finals last year? That would have been seen as an enormous failure...And I think LeBron's success in that game will help him tonight...I expect him to have a huge Game 4 which will tie this series at 2-2...
Tony (Richmond, CA)
How fearful are you that the Tony Parker hamstring injury evolves into a Magic Johnson-Detroit type injury that ruins the entire series?
mike wilbon (1:41 PM)
Great question...Very fearful...I don't think it would be the worst thing in the world if Gregg Popovich sits Tony Parker tonight in order to let him be better Sunday...Sitting out tonight would allow him to have Wed/Thurs/Fri/Sat off before the next game. I know its diagnosed as a Grade 1 pull, which means not "serious" but it could be nagging and reduce his effectiveness...And your point is really well taken about Magic Johnson in that series in, what, 1989 I think? Here's the thing: it was Parker's ability to draw Miami double-teams and get the ball to shooters (or the teammate who THEN passed to a shooter) which led to all those open 3-pointers for Danny Green and Gary Neal...So, in my opinion Miami is simply not going to beat San Antonio without an effective Tony Parker...I know the reporting here this morning is that Parker says he's ready to go...We'll see tonight whether he's good to go or not...
Kevin (Boyne City, MI)
Should the Heat be more focused on protecting the paint or running Danny Green and Gary Neal off the three point line in Game 4, which would ultimately open up the paint for Tim Duncan? Can the Heat afford to try this?
mike wilbon (1:47 PM)
You just described Erik Spoelstra's choice for tonight...and he may have to do some of both, mix it up and pick his spots...But simply going one way probably won't work. I'd bet against role players like Green and Neal getting anywhere near that hot again. I wouldn't just let them have free looks from beyond the arc that much, but you're right about Duncan and not wating him to get 25 and 15...This is what the phrase "pick your poison" means...
MARI IL [via mobile]
Am i the only that believes that last game took a tremendous amount of fight out of the heat for the rest of this series
mike wilbon (1:50 PM)
You're not the only one, no. People here in San Antonio are certainly hoping that's the case...I don't believe it took the fight out of Miami, no...not for a second. I don't believe champions get the fight knocked out of them that easily. I think it was one blowout and has absolutely nothing to do with how Miami will do tonight. I expect the Heat to win and even the series...I think most folks overreact to one basketball game, one hockey game, one baseball game...because we're such a football dominant culture now, especially the media, that we judge everything based on a football construct. The other sports are contested in a series and there's back-and-forth even after blowouts or disappointing losses. I don't think the Bruins will be devastated by losing in 3OTs in Chicago last night; I think they'll likely come back and even the series...Miami too.
Kidd over Shaw, good move on Nets part?
mike wilbon (1:52 PM)
I'd have hired Shaw. I think Jason Kidd will be a terrific coach, but not necessarily right off the bat. It's gonna be difficult for him to make demands (and get results from) his peers. I DON'T think its good that he and Deron Williams are buddies. Look, Kidd's been preparing for this for a couple of years now; I've talked to him about coaching. I think he has so many of the attributes to be a terrific coach...but the Nets are a franchise that thinks its team should win NOW so I don't know that you hire a guy who's never done ANY of this...I think Shaw is the most attractive of the assistants out there and was a better candidate right now.
Kevin (Boyne City, MI)
With the sense of urgency from the Heat to find a way to produce offensively, can you foresee Spoelstra looking to Mike Miller, who several weeks ago would've not been in this discussion, to get more opportunities to stroke the ball in Game 4? Possibly some plays to set him up? He's 8-for-8 3ptFG in the past two games.
mike wilbon (1:58 PM)
Yeah, I totally get what you're talking about but I think Spoelstra will play Miller a few more minutes, but nothing dramatic. Miller's got mileage on him and there's no sense thinking he can be nearly as efficient over 35 minutes or something like that. He HAS to play Miller more but bringing him in early and having him on the floor in the most important moments is something the coach will have to figure out and govern...But we saw already in Game 3 that Battier is now behind Miller in the rotation, as it should be...You go with the hot hand, which means Miller and Allen in the case of Miami...
Keith (Seattle, WA)
I've heard the ssaying nuemous timesis, "you only need one coach/GM/Owner to like you". But does Tim Tebow have pictures on Josh McDaniels? I know Belichick makes the final decision, but Josh had to lobby for him, right? And how can Tebow play QB for NE, argubably the most complex offense in the NFL, when he can't call an audible?
mike wilbon (2:02 PM)
I would agree with you, that McDaniels clearly had to lobby for the acquisition of Tebow. BUT, I also think that a coach as creative as Bill Belichick, who has to think out-of-the-box when it comes to player acquisition because his team is never drafting in the top 10, would go to McDaniels and say, "Tell me about Tebow; should we take a look?" And I think the Patriots or Packers or Saints or Niners or a team like that is where Tebow should be, where a creative coach--not the Jets--will figure out what he should be doing and get him directed there...What does New England have to lose? Not a thing. There's no QB controversy, because Belichick won't let there be one...and in the meantime, with Belichick keep prying eyes OUT, Tebow will get some time to grow and evolve...
I love watching real basketball where you have to actually make a shot instead of throwing the ball at the rim and flailing, don't you?
mike wilbon (2:03 PM)
Absolutely, yes...And the Heat have to figure out they're not going to have those January or February games where they get to do that...Run the offense, use your teammates, make some shots. That's what the Spurs did in Game 3.
Deven (New York, NY)
And your pick for Game 4 is. . . . ?
mike wilbon (2:04 PM)
Miami...They'll come back, with LeBron leading the way, just as they did after Game 1...just as the Spurs did after getting blown out of Game 2...It's a SERIES of games...
The NBA bores me. That said, how about the Braun, ARod, steroid saga. Seems to me that MLB is criticized no matter what. They were far too lax and looked the other way in the 90s during the Sosa/McGwire/Bonds years. Now they are aggressively pursuing it and they get accused of being on a witch hunt. Just my opinion but there is far too much smoke here to think Braun and the others are clean. I really hope the league nails them as frauds and liars.
mike wilbon (2:07 PM)
Okay your point is well taken...Personally, PED talk bores me. Either way, this is bad for MLB because we were just getting past the most recent scandal and now THIS. You've got a recent MVP and the biggest name in baseball neck-deep in this new scandal and it just seems that a good percentage of the time when it comes to baseball we're talking about drugs, about cheating. It's tiresome...but MLB has to pursue this aggressively. Either way, the result isn't going to be a good one.
I feel like back to the "what-if" scenario's and obviously I'm a little biased, but the C's had a good chance at a 3peat without KG's 2009 injury (started 27-2) and the Perkins injury circa 2010. Would you agree?
mike wilbon (2:08 PM)
Sure...But that's sports. Injuries sometimes determine the course of history. I'm a Bulls fan. You think I don't feel that way about the 2011-12 season when D. Rose went down after that great Game 1 victory over Philly in the first round? Every fan has that, some more legitimately than others...But the Celtics, yes, should have had at least that second title.
I may just not read enough basketball articles but it seems to me that when the Heat do well it's a team effort trickling down from great coaching by Spo to the supporting players (mostly Battier, Allen, and the PGs this season); but when they do poorly its always placed solely on one or more of Lebron, Wade and Bosh. I get that its fair to say that the best players need to rise to the occasion and when the going gets tough and all that, but is Coach Spo just being outcoached in your opinion? And, if so, is it fair to insulate him from blame by focusing on the "Big 3"?
mike wilbon (2:14 PM)
Very fair question...I think Popovich, by virtue of his roster, has more options to play. The Spurs have more shooters for sure...Remember, not only do they have Green and Neal, but they have Bonner. Leonard has improved his shooting...That's four guys all playing off Tim Duncan. Now, the decline of Ginobili reduces some of Pop's options...but I don't know how many moves Spoelstra can make with Wade hurting and Chris Bosh just sitting out there (apparently by design) spacing the floor and taking jump shots. He moved in a couple of feet in Game 4 but still...His BEST option is really LeBron playing better...and if not better then differently. I'd like to see LeBrom in the post more. I know Leonard is a bigger, stronger and better defender than Paul George in the last series but I'd make Leonard play LeBron in the post where he can command a double-team and THEN find shooters. Miller and Allen and Chalmers (if he gets going again) can make shots...Miller and Allen can make them on the road. So while I do think too much is made of LeBron's scoring at times, basketball is disproportionately a star's game...particularly on the road...Think of how many of Michael Jordan's great games were wearing the red uniform...The Bulls road uniforms...If LeBron is to be truly in that category then tonight is a night he finds a way to control the game.
How much more fun would the NBA be if other coaches had the job security and foresight to develop role players during the season, a la Pop. No way uys like Green, Leonard, and Neal are playing like this without getting big-time reps in the regular season.
mike wilbon (2:15 PM)
True to a degree...But those coaches have to develop those players by getting them minutes from Day 1 of the regular season. There are coaches who simply aren't going to give minutes to their fringe players no matter what...and that's on them, not their job security.
If you're the Cavs how do you pass on Alex Len? He looks like he has the potential to be like Marc Gasol but with a better offensive game. Thoughts?
mike wilbon (2:17 PM)
I like Alex Len...Granted, I live in Maryland and see a LOT of him and think he's got the skills. I don't know that he's a rugged as Marc Gasoil, but I think he's got the tools to be a 12-point scorer or even a little more in the right NBA system...Thing is, so many coaches are going away from big men who play close to the basket...Len would have been valued much more 20 years ago than he is now...
Keith (Enfield, CT)
Did you stay up to watch all 6 periods last night? Is there anything better than OT hockey!!
mike wilbon (2:20 PM)
I was in and out, watch, go to dinner and look live on my handheld, watch, nod out, watch...I like one OT...was at the Blackhawks-Red Wings Game 7 that went to OT...One OT is good for me, but I respect the way the NHL ends its playoff games, yes. I covered a 4 OT Capitals-Islanders playoff game some years ago...and I think I covered a 3OT Capitals-Flyers playoff game as well...Those become battles of attrition, which was the case to some degree last night, I thought the Bruins players, several of them, were simply too tired to finish chances last night after regulation...I thought the Bruins played better after regulation but were just out on their feet, in many cases, in the second and third OTs.
Ed (Queens Village)
Your take on hometown Blackhawks rallying to win Game 1?
mike wilbon (2:21 PM)
Guts and some luck. The Bruins had what I think were four great chances to win the game in the OTs, including that shot off the inside of the goalpost, and couldn't...I think the Blackhawks stole one...
How much grief do you get for tucking in your jersey for the 1st pitch?
mike wilbon (2:22 PM)
A lot...And it's deserved, and funny...AND THE TAIL OF THE JERSEY WAS TOO DAMN LONG!!! LOL
Kevin (Boyne City, MI)
To add onto Danny (Cleveland), would Len be more safe of a pick than Noel?
mike wilbon (2:23 PM)
I don't know...Fair question. I'm not a Noel guy...But I know he's a LOT higher on everybody's draft boards than Alex Len. So don't even go there!
Kane and Toews haven't got going yet, If they don't, can the Hawks still take the series? Crawford is playing out of his mind.
mike wilbon (2:23 PM)
Kane just had a hat trick to eliminate the Kings; My goodness Kyle how much do you want? That was just Game 1...
Kevin (Reno, NV)
Does Serena get twenty majors before she hangs up her racket? And if you believe so, is this contingent on her winning at least one more major this year in New York or London?
mike wilbon (2:27 PM)
I think she's the favorite to win two more this summer, right? That would give her 18 and tie her with, I believe, Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova, who I believe are the greatest players ever. I don't mean to diminish Steffi Graf but the stabbing of Monica Seles changed history to me. Martina and Chris has to face each other (not to mention Billie Jean and Yvonne Goolagong and Tracy Austin, etc) while Serena had to beat her sister, a great player, and the Belgians and Sharapova...Steffi's primary rival, Seles, was on a roll when she was stabbed. I think Monica had won five of the last six Slams at that point...And Margaret Court, who might have been the most graceful athlete of them all, won like a dozen Aussie Opens at a time when there was so little international travel...Althea Gibson, just to pick a great player, either never played a Aussie Open or played one...Hell, Billie Jean King didn't even play that many of them...So, I think if Serena climbs into the company of Chris and Martina she's in the discussion for greatest player ever...Would be cool if that happened this summer...
right now is danny green the finals MVP?
mike wilbon (2:27 PM)
True or false: Kawhi Leonard will do the best job of guarding LeBron of anyone in the NBA over the ocming years.
mike wilbon (2:29 PM)
Maybe...Jimmy Butler will have a lot more chances...meaning he'll get torched more and have a few more good games against LeBron...In the same conference he'll get three, four chances a season instead of Leonard's two chances...But yeah, Leonard could be the leader at this in coming seasons...
Kevin (Boyne City, MI)
Is Mo Cheeks here to stay in Detroit? The Pistons have had six coaches in eight years..Is Cheeks just another coach on the chopping block, or can you see him turning this 11, 12 seed team into a contender for the 8th spot by next year?
mike wilbon (2:31 PM)
I love Mo Cheeks...He played for my uncle, Bob Bonner, in high school at DuSable in Chicago. I grew up a little in awe of Mo Cheeks (and Quinn Buckner...those were the guys I dreamt of being like--Ha!) so I root for Mo. But you've got to acquire great players and that's not up to Mo. That's in any situation, coaching any team...As a Bulls fan I'm not rooting for the Pistons historically. But I like Joe Dumars a lot of I've told you of my Mo Cheeks adoration so I can't really work up any Pistons hate! LOL...that'll make my man Jalen Rose laugh...
mike wilbon (2:33 PM)
Okay, I gotta run...working on a column and need to do some more writing before we get ready for Game 4 tonight here in San Antonio...Goodness, we didn't even get into the Open...Doesn't seem very dramatic so far, but I'm just glad the rain seems to have departed and we can get steady golf after that long rain delay this morning...Okay, have a great Father's Day weekend everybody! Thanks for chatting...We'll do it again in a few days! MW