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!
mike wilbon (1:40 PM)
Hi Everybody! Just back from Chicago where I covered the Bulls-Heat game for ESPN.com yesterday...Absolutely fabulous game...but there's so much to talk about in sports today, from Heat/Pacers/Bulls to March Madness on our doorstep to Tiger falling apart...So here we go!
Deven (New York, NY)
Which NBA team is in trouble more: Pacers, Heat, OKC or someone else?
mike wilbon (1:44 PM)
Great question...I won't even take the easy way out and say, "The Knicks" becuase they're the definition of "in trouble" but if we're talking about teams that matter, I'd say the Pacers. It's not that they've lost four straight, it's that Paul George has had a terrible six weeks or so and the Pacers are a team that has plenty of confidence but not all that much on the resume to back up the bravado. They remind me of the early 1990s Portland TrailBlazers (Drexler, Porter, Kersey, Buck Williams, Duckworth, Cliff R.) who had really good, really smart players and couldn't cash it all in. OKC, to me, is going through the predictable woes of working Russell Westbrook back into the lineup, and Miami simply lost games to three teams that SHOULD beat Miami at home: @San Antonio, @Houston and @Chicago. Those teams SHOULD beat Miami at home...So, my answer is the Pacers.
At what point do we stop asking, "Will Tiger pass Jack?" and start asking, "Will Tiger win another major?"
mike wilbon (1:58 PM)
Now. Now would be that time. With the injuries Tiger has had, at the age he is now (38) it's reasonable to wonder whether Tiger can even contend in a major. Back injuries rarely get BETTER as golfers get older. Ask Freddie Couples who would have won soooo much more (in my opinion) if his back hadn't betrayed him. Tiger's had a slew of injuries that reduce golfers: back, knee, wrist. Think of the number of athletes whose careers have been deep-sixed by major injuries. Tiger seems to be on that wrong-way slide right now. I hope he isn't. Professional golf would take such a big hit if Tiger can be Tiger anymore, starting now. I keep thinking Tiger might be well-served to take off a year and try to get well physically, but that seems entirely un-Tiger. But major championships seem pretty far away right now, given the way Tiger has looked so far this season...
Arthur (Los Angeles, CA)
How well do you think doug mcdermott will do well in the NBA. I feel that he will do very well he has a very mature style of play.
mike wilbon (2:13 PM)
This is one of the most discussed personnel questions in college basketball: how will McDermott do in this tournament AND THEN at the next level. And there are all kinds of comparisons out there, mostly race-based comparisons I try to stay away from because they're just usually intellectually lazy. There are some players of same race which might make sense (Wally Szczerbiak) but players of different races who might, too (how about Xavier McDaniel: credit to TK)...DM can do the thing that usually translates to the pro game: shoot it. He can score, he's big, he seeks contact, he seems fearless. I watch the kid now with total fascination on this issue of how good he'll be. The Adam Morrison comparison is out there, largely because of race, and I don't see it but others swear they do. I keep seeing early draft projections which have him going outside the top 10...I know the draft is deep this year but wow...I think he's the runaway player-of-the-year in the NCAA. the thing about going 10th or 12th or somewhere like that in the draft is McDermott could go to a pretty good team. Suppose he lands on, say, the Suns where they have a wide-open offense with slashers and a point guard he could play with? Anyway, I'm a huge fan of the kid and can't wait to see him in the NBA...
Deven (New York, NY)
How are the Bulls doing what they?re doing without Rose once again and now Deng? WoW!
mike wilbon (2:19 PM)
Thibs, Noah, Taj Gibson, Jimmy Butler, the acquisition of D.J. Augustine and fanatically hard work. Thibs is going to get coach-of-the-year votes again. Noah, who has three triple-doubles in about a month's time, might get my 3rd place vote for MVP (behind LeBron and Durant in whatever order they end up)...It's amazing the Bulls have the best record in the NBA since Jan. 1 without Rose and Deng. Amazing. those, Noah would be the first to tell you, were the team's two best players when the season began. Take the two best players off of any other team in the NBA and would they be able to finish 3rd? No. No chance. NOBODY in his right mind would suggest the Bulls would beat the Heat in a 7-game series in May or June without Rose and a suitable replacement for Deng, but the bulls annoy the hell out of Miami and it would be great to see another series between the two this post-season.
What do the Lakers need to do over the off season to prevent what happened this year? Do they need to let go of Nash/Kobe?
mike wilbon (2:24 PM)
The Lakers need to have ping-pong balls bounce the right way, move into the top 3 and draft either jabari Parker or Andrew Wiggins. Those are players who could really energize the Lakers, kids who seem like they could easily be the face of the Lakers brand as we've known it...and by that I mean all-court players of great skill who could grow quickly into stars by being, first and foremost, great players, great players you could build a franchise around, learning from Kobe Bean Bryant a couple of years. So, the Lakers need to cash in on that draft pick and start there.
Deven (New York, NY)
When will Westbrook realize that the OKC Thunder is Durant?s team?
mike wilbon (2:26 PM)
Ha. I keep waiting for that, too. He doesn't, he won't, he doesn't care. Westbrook took more shots last year than Durant...Took more than anybody in the NBA except Kobe and Carmelo. He wasn't a point guard in college or high school and has a scorer's personality, not a point guard's, even now. I don't think OKC can win it all that way, and people on and around that team seem to think it's no big deal. I do. Let's see who's right come spring. I'm glad Westbrook is healthy and I want to see just how well this turns out...I just think it must tear at a team eventually when a guy who is NOT the best players acts as if he is.
What do you think of all the tanking? Why couldn't they do something simple like: cant have top 3 picks in back to back years, no top 10 picks in 4 straight years. If you do you move to the back of the lottery.
mike wilbon (2:29 PM)
All what tanking? This is so overstated to me. People said the Suns were going to tank this year. Look at the standings! The Suns are 10 or 11 games over .500. People said when the Bulls traded Deng after Rose went down that they'd tank and go into the lottery. They're 4th in the East w the best record in the league since January 1. How's that accusation working out? the Sixers are the only team that looks to be tanking, and by that I don't mean the players I mean the front office putting a team on the floor that can't possibly win a game. Who else? The Knicks? The Knicks stink. Orlando is trying; they're just bad. This, to me, goes back to what jerry West and others have said recently. There's a lot of BAD basketball being played, mostly in the Eastern Conference, but it doesn't mean they're doing it on purpose.
Deven (New York, NY)
The Spurs now have the best record in the NBA. Unbelievable! Michael, I want you to be honest with me about something. And I mean really honest, okay? Do you think the Spurs are perfect, in terms of the coach, GM, owner, players, other members and so forth? Are they the best team of all-time not just in basketball, but of all sports? Be honest!
mike wilbon (2:34 PM)
Why do you have to go THAT far? LOL I think they're one of the best organizations in professional sports today. Better than the Red Sox over the last 10 years who've won 3 World Series? Better than the Patriots over a 15=-year period who've been in 5 Super Bowls? Better than the Bulls in the 1990s who went to 8 conference finals, won 6 and 6 titles? Why would I say the Spurs are better than that? They're great, truly great for all the reasons you state. But Better than the Celtics of the 1960s who won everything in sight? let's be a little mindful of history! Better than the Packers of the 1960s, Vince Lombardi's Packers, who won, what, five NFL championships entering (and including) the Super Bowl era. Don't automatically think that because its happening today and can be praised to death on SportsCenter and by 24-hour analysis and uber analysis that its better than something done 30, 50, 70 years ago...
Dan (Washington, DC)
I love sports, and I also appreciate that there are narratives that make for a richer understanding of games, individual players, teams, and leagues. But I wonder, am I the only person in America who sticks to the season at hand? By this, I mean that I literally do not read Peter King outside the NFL season and could not care less about free agency or the draft. I also mean that I ignore reports on some Nats pitcher?s inflamed elbow in Florida. Is Strasburg pitching on opening day ? call me before the first pitch and I?ll be ready. Will Michael Vick be the back-up in San Francisco ? let me know on Labor Day, but don?t bother me before then. I just want to focus on all the interesting stories in the NBA and college basketball right now. Am I somehow missing something from the other leagues by giving basketball my focus through June?
mike wilbon (2:39 PM)
Dan, I want to buy you a drink. This is one of the most reasonable expressions of sports fandom I've seen in years. It's pretty much how I feel and approach sports. People ask me all the time, "what's your favorite sport?" and I tell them, "What's being played now?" In other words, right this minute its college basketball, the NBA with sprinkles of NHL mania thrown in, depending on how the Blackhawks are doing. Ask me in October I'll tell you pro football, college football and MLB. Ask me in November/December and I'll tell you pro football...I don't give a damn, yet, about spring training. I'll get there. I'll actually go to some spring training games (Cubs and White Sox) in Arizona in about 10 days. I will pay attention to the Bears' free agency activity in a few days, but don't tell be about OTAs and all the NFL chatter because basically I don't give a damn about that, relative to Bulls-Heat YESTERDAY or the Phil Jackson developments in NYC right now or the Pacers losing 4 straight or McDermott at Creighton or whether Villanova will be a No. 1 seed or the Maryland win over UVA in the Terps' last ACC regular season game ever...There's so much NOW why do I need off-season junk? I don't. And I'm glad to see that there's somebody right here where I live who feels the same way! Yeah!!!!
Is Houston a TRUE contender now? and how much do you believe in Harden?
mike wilbon (2:42 PM)
I think so. I think Houston could actually beat the Spurs or OKC to reach the NBA Finals. I'm not saying I'd make them the facvorites in the west, but the Rockets seem to have all the elements to me. And the fact that Dwight Howard DOESN'T have to be The Man there helps tremendously. That falls to Harden, who seems fine with it. Houston's bench is a little worrisome at times, but if Asik and Lin can anchor that second unit the Rockets can be real, real tough.
Keith H (Seattle)
It looks like someone hasn't heard of the Red Auerbach/Bill Russell Boston Celtics, Oakland Raiders, Pittsburgh Steelers, New York Yankees, etc. History isn't defined by Google.
mike wilbon (2:42 PM)
Yep...Again, the Spurs do it right, don't get me wrong. But so have others. Thanks for mentioning others...
Would the Thunder be better off trading Westbrook and playing like they did while he was out so KD can flourish like he was?
mike wilbon (2:44 PM)
Believe me, I've started that conversation with some NBA people and usually I get shouted down because Westbrook, and I admit this, is an immense talent. And you usually don't get rid of that kind of talent. BUT, if OKC is healthy and comes up short this spring, why wouldn't they consider it?
Hey Michael! I'm sure most don't care, but where do u see Pau Gasol playin' next yr?! thanks!
mike wilbon (2:49 PM)
Well, he said no to a trade to Phoenix because he didn't want to sign long-term there so I have no idea. I suspect he wants to stay in Los Angeles, but the Lakers try to trade him all the time. Maybe he wants to go back to Memphis and play next to his brother? At 32 or whatever Gasol is, I think he's got something left to help a real contender but it seems Gasol wants to stay in L.A.
Don (Los Angeles)
You and Jerry West are so right. The Lakers aren't trying to tank, they just aren't any good. The wins over the Blazers and Thunder show that the players want to win and the Clipper beat down on them shows how weak the talent is.
mike wilbon (2:49 PM)
I like to be in any sentence that starts "You and Jerry West!" LOL thanks for that!
mike wilbon (2:54 PM)
Okay, I gotta run and prepare for PTI during which we'll get into a LOT Of these themes and questions! thanks everybody for chatting today, and let's do it again Monday, where we'll get neck deep into the NCAA tournament field. Have a great week...MW