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!
Rich (New Jersey)
Hi Michael, Florida - Virginia - Arizona - Wichita State, which of these four has the roughest road to the Final Four ?
mike wilbon (2:02 PM)
Hi Everybody! We'll jump right into March Madness, which I love about as much as anything in sports...And as I'm not going to give you much different than anybody else on this answer. I think Wichita State, which COULD have to go through Kentucky, Louisville, Duke and Michigan...Look, it's all difficult and the history of upsets means Wichita may not have to go through ANY of those teams. I could see Kentucky losing to Kansas State. I could see Iowa beating UMASS and Duke as a play-in. Remember, Wichita State beat PItt, Gonzaga and Ohio State last year and lost to Louisville, the eventual champ, by just four points. But I think they've got the toughest road.
Tony (Richmond, CA)
Who is your pick to win the NCAA Tournament? Are you on the Florida or Michigan State bandwagon like so many? Or is there someone else you like to cut down the nets?
mike wilbon (2:09 PM)
Hell, I backed the Florida bandwagon out of the garage about 20 games ago. So yes, I'm on the Florida bandwagon. I'm NOT picking Michigan State, as I often do, for the simple reason that EVERYBODY IN THE WORLD is picking them, so it can't happen. Of course, everybody in the world picked Louisville last year and it DID happen...but I'm not going that way. I'm the biggest Tom Izzo fan out there and I often pick Michigan State. I root for Michigan State...But I'm picking Florida and Virginia to meet in the Final Four, and Creighton...I don't like ANYBODY in the West...And I'll take Louisville (like everybody else) in the Midwest...I think I like Florida and Louisville in the Final...Pitino vs. his old point guard Billy Donovan...both going for the third NCAA championship...Wouldn't that be pretty cool...
What the heck has happened to Georgia hoops? Tech, bulldogs etc.
mike wilbon (2:10 PM)
I don't study basketball in the state of Georgia, even though I'm curious because half my family is from there...but I suspect the obsession with football crowds out most everything else...Interesting question...I have to ask a buddy or two who recruit that area to see what they say...
East Side (Chi-town)
You've been outspoken about the race issue. Do we need new dictionaries so that each race understands what words are and are not allowed?
mike wilbon (2:14 PM)
No. Don't be a moron is the rule...Don't use any pejoratives that don't pertain to you and yours. How hard is that. So many guys out there who ask this question and think they're slick. I don't use words that my Italian friends or Polish friends may call each other. It's not rocket science. Use it and risk getting your head knocked off. My father told me at 10 years old if he heard (or heard of) me using these words he'd knock my head off. It ain't that hard Bro. If you aren't of that persuasion, don't use the word. Aren't there enough in the language you can use without going there.
Did the committee try to teach Larry Brown a lesson at SMU? Seems like they wanted to tell him he had to earn his stripes like everyone else.
mike wilbon (2:18 PM)
We love Larry Brown, and by "we" I mean Tony Kornheiser, who Larry coached as a camper 50 years ago (literally) and by extension because I piggy-back off their relationship, me. Love him. I think he's in the handful of greatest basketball coaches ever...BUT, SMU's non-conference strength of schedule was 303rd out of 349 Division I basketball schools...AND SMU's overall strength of schedule was 114, while teams like Tennessee, Xavier, Iowa...they were all in the 30s, some int he 20s in terms of rankings. Even Green Bay, in the Horizon League, played Virginia, Wisconsin, Tulsa and had the 52nd-ranked overall schedule. Granted, SMU is the first top-25 team in 10 years to not be included in the tournament field but I don't want to say they were hosed even though I was really hoping to see Coach Brown and the Mustangs in the field.
Hey Wilbon! Thanks for the chat and the show! I have a serious question for you, that I need you to answer: As a Chicago guy, I've seen you dish out love for EVERY Chicago sports figure around......except for Isiah Thomas. You barely even mention him when you talk about the 80's/90's championships. Why? I'm not asking if you LIKE him necessarily, but do you respect him? Thanks!
mike wilbon (2:25 PM)
I mention him all the time, so I don't know what you're talking about. I've followed his career, every step of it, since he was 13 years old playing against my brother Don, him at St. Joe's and the Wilbon boys at St. Ignatius. We didn't always have a good relationship but as someone who respects the history of basketball I would NEVER leave Isiah out of the all-time great discussions. In fact, in 2001 (I think) I wrote a column for The Washington Post after talking to both Michael Jordan and Isiah about how silly it looks (in retrospect) that Christian Laettner was on the Dream Team instead of Isiah...To bring this up to date, I'm required as a columnist to be critical if he fails at things or is inovlved in some controversy (and there have been a few of those)...BUT I have no problem praising him for his performance in both college basketball and the NBA, his stature in the game,...AND we've had a pretty good relationship for a long, long time now...We communicate pretty regularly, including several times last week...I applaud some initiatives he's leading in our home town and we share some important civic interests. So, I say all that to say, not only am I not against including Isiah in those conversations, I think its a must. He's the best player of his size EVER, as far as I'm concerned.
What do you think the lakers need to do to get back to championship form?
mike wilbon (2:28 PM)
A healthy Kobe Bryant, a renewed Pau Gasol and a top three pick in the lottery. Suppose the Lakers were able to draft Jabari Parker and put him on the floor next year with Kobe and Gasol? Would that make them a championship contender? Probably, not...not in the stacked Western Conference. But they'd be back in the mix, for sure.Oh, and they need an owner who's not a joke, but that's so much harder to arrange than winning the lottery! LOL
Charles (Columbus, OH)
Bigger loss for the Bears, Peppers of McCown?
mike wilbon (2:31 PM)
McCown. I love Peppers, but its not even close. The Bears had a QB who ran that offense with great efficiency. Look at what happened to the Bears in each of the years Cutler got hurt and they went to backups who couldn't get it done. Disaster.
Aaron (Leesburg, VA)
What are the implications of Jim Irsay's arrest? And have people around the league known about him having an issue with substance abuse?
mike wilbon (2:36 PM)
There's a lot of gossip about Jim Irsay over a lot of years, much of it not flattering, and I know this from the days I was covering the NFL and Irsay was often in the company of his father, whose behavior was often regrettable. I'm not sure what the implications are but I do know Commissioner Roger Goodell, who comes down hard on players, had better put the force of his office behind disciplining Irsay if these allegations--a double whammy--are true.
David (New York)
Very good work on the great Requiem for the BE. Think it was doomed to fail with too many different agendas (basketball only vs football) but it was great while it lasted. Also think Boeheim had a great comment, "we didn't leave the BE, the BE left long ago".
mike wilbon (2:45 PM)
Thank you...and I loved "Requiem for the Big East." Ezra Edelman did a wonderful job capturing the origin, the spirit of the league, the comativeness on the court, the culture of the times up and down the Eastern corridor of the U.S. at the time, the charisma of the coaches, the brilliance of architecht Dave Gavitt, and the demise of the conference which is tied largely to the national obsession with college football. Look, I covered Georgetown and the Big East for The Washington Post (along with Maryland and the ACC) from 1980 to 1990 and beyond. A major chunk of my professional life, even up to 2004, 2005, was spent with those coaches and players. I get to see Ed Pinckney whenever I go to Chicago because he is an assistant coach with the Chicago Bulls and one of my favorite people I've ever encountered in basketball. I needed a box of tissues by the time the thing ended. I loved having a front row seat and a pass inside the velvet rope to chronicle that whole thing. And it saddens me, like a death in my own family, that its gone. Boeheim was right of course, and yes, the obsession with football and the money that flows from it did in the whole deal. It was inevitible. But God, it was good.
Do you think Patrick Ewing will get a head coaching shot some day? What has been holding him back? Thanks.
mike wilbon (2:50 PM)
I hope so. I've known Patrick since early in his freshman year at Georgetown and I've seen all the stages of his career, and of him...meaning how he's grown as a person. I know how much he wants to be a head coach and I worry that at 51 or 52 years of age he might not ever get that chance. I don't know what owners and GMs see (or don't see that they want to see) in Ewing, but I know he's sought advice from people in the business he respects...I've been an advocate for him being given a chance, seeing as how much testimony there is to him being a really good assistant. But I don't know that its going to happen, though I'm hopeful.
was very sad to watch that 30 for 30. The Big East had great basketball tournaments as recently as a couple years ago. So sad that that got blown up in the pursuit of football money.
mike wilbon (2:50 PM)
Aaron (Leesburg, VA)
Mike, loved the Big East 30 for 30 special last night. The Pearl breaking Gene Smith's ankles brought back memories. Was Washington the greatest guard in the Big East in your opinion? And why don't you think he faired very well in the NBA? Also, who is your conference Top 5 if you don't mind?
mike wilbon (3:00 PM)
Yes. I'm sitting here with TK who had a front row seat for the entire history of the Big East, too, and he says, "I've watched people have better short runs...(Kemba Walker) but in terms of a 30-game season, he's the No. 1 guy." So Tony and I agree...If I had to pick a five-game all-time All Big East team it would be, Ewing, Mullin, Pearl and then stuff is up for grabs...You could put Ray Allen (a two-time player of the year) or Kemba Walker on. You could put Allen Iverson and Alonzo Mourning on. Emeka Okafor and Charles Smith were awfully good. Oh, Derrick Coleman. Carmelo won a title, but he was there only one year. Caron Butler...that's a lot of UCONN guys. People have forgotten Sherman Douglas, oh MARK JACKSON who was probably the best pure point guard. Troy Murphy...Reggie Williams at Georgetown. But you have to have Mullin and Ewing...For my tastes you have to have Mullin, Ewing and Pearl...Goodness these guys were great. Kids from Seton Hall and Providence I didn't even mention...Oh, my man Eddie P from Villanova. All he did was win a national championship. Sleepy Floyd...Okay, I'm gonna stop now. Did I mention Walter Berry, who was a Wooden Aware Winner after Mullin left? Wow.
Am I crazy for thinking Bryce Cotton and Providence could upset UNC?
mike wilbon (3:00 PM)
Hell yeah you're crazy. Oh wait, I've got PC beating UNC, too! Carry on Kevin...
mike wilbon (3:02 PM)
Iowa State could go to the Final Four (some people have that on brackets I've seen today) and could go out to Providence or North Carolina.
Do you think there is enough time for the Knicks to take the 8th seed in the East? They have been playing good ball. I am starting to think they will keep Woodson around for next year too because all the bad contracts go away after next season.
mike wilbon (3:04 PM)
I can't imagine Mike Woodson being on the Knicks bench next season even though I think he's done a helluva job there (54-28 last season, 18-6 in relief of Mike D'Antoni the season before) and he'll coach again quickly, but not NYC...They've won 6 straight, but that's coming off a 7-game losing streak and meanwhile ATL seems to have recovered and Charlotte is playing really well. No, I don't see it. I was staring at the standings and schedules last night trying to come up with some way the Knicks could do that, but I couldn't. And regardless, Phil jackson will be hiring a new head coach for the knicks.
Indiana's AD, Fred Glass, turned down a bid for the CBI (no clue that tourney even existed) by saying Indiana was too good to play in a tourney of that caliber. Do think he asked the team what they wanted to do before claiming his 17-15 team was worth anything more? And do you agree with him not letting the kids play some more ball, even in a lesser environment? After all, it is about the kids.
mike wilbon (3:06 PM)
There's no law in America that says you have to keep playing basketball after the regular season ends. I'm with the IU officials; the Hoosiers don't need to be in that tournament. No, tell those kids to go to class. Enough.
Bryan (Springdale, AR) [via mobile]
So if the Redskins organization likes that name, it's up to them to decide their name, and whether or not it offends outsides doesn't matter, correct? That's the same argument you are using to justify your use of the N-word.
mike wilbon (3:10 PM)
No, Dope. it isn't. Is Dan Snyder Native American? You can't be dumb enough to continue making the argument. I don't use it pubicly. "Redskins" is used publicly. You can't say you'll penalize people 15 yards for using the N-word while having a team nicknamed "Redskins" which IS the N-word for Native Americans. And its not up to the Redskins alone. 50 years ago the Redskins owner declared he wouldn't have black players, and Robert F. Kennedy (I believe the Attorney Gen. at the time) said, "Oh, yes you will...you're playing in a facility paid for with taxpayer money, many of those taxpayers being black) and that was that. Hello Bobby Mitchell. The Redskins are a "member club" which means literally subject to the rules and even whims of the NFL. So, really, maybe you should do a little reading and go back and re-think that approach. Everybody is accountable to somebody, even the Redskins...(And, by the way, I DON'T think they'll change the name of the team in my lifetime)...
tdiddy (winnipeg) [via mobile]
Capitals look a mess and are going to miss the playoffs. Time for McPhee to step down as GM and get some fresh eyes over there? Go Jets (winnipeg)!
mike wilbon (3:14 PM)
Since losing to the Penguins twice, the Capitals have beaten Vancouver and Toronto so they're not out of it. And just getting in can mean the world to them. The Capitals HAVE to get in, and yes they've lost five of eight...I don't know about big changes. Seems the Capitals are always making huge changes. Let me ask you this: if you can't get in the playoffs OR you can't get out of the first round, do you trade your No. 1 asset, Alex Ovechkin, to try a new approach? He helps sell out the place every night in the regular season. TK and I are debating this now, and he says he would NOT trade Ovechkin, that its like having Barry Bonds for 82 games and he provides too much. I'm less certain than he is about this...Would be a PTI segment if anybody beyond the beltway cared. LOL
Do you ever see Scottie Pippen coaching in the NBA or college?
mike wilbon (3:16 PM)
You know what, I haven't asked Scottie than in years, like 10 years, and I see him every week. Literally, every week...I talk to Scottie about a million basketball related things because he's one of the smartest players I ever met...I love his perspective...But I don't get the sense he wants to do that. His son plays with my nephew in Chicago and I don't even think Scottie coaches Little Scottie, even though he watches with the same shrewd sense of how to play...Man, I have to ask him now. Okay, next week it is. We'll revisit this. Again, Scottie is now 50 years old (or just shy of it)...Is this something you undertake at that point of your life?
Erik (Austin, TX)
Happy Monday to you Mike! As a lifelong Spurs fan, I've been spoiled watching Tim Duncan's NBA career. Do you think regardless of this season's outcome, it will be the last campaign for him?
mike wilbon (3:18 PM)
I don't know Tim well enough to have a sense of what his goals are beyond basketball the way I knew, say, David Robinson...He's playing so well and the Spurs are going so well, why stop? This question came up last year, too, like the Spurs were on the last legs...except, OOOOPS! The Spurs could have the best record in the NBA again this season. He could go out in a blaze of glory if they win a title, but why stop when you're this good, still?
With Phil Jackson in the fold in NY, does that mean Melo stays and does not go to Chicago? Melo says he will do whatever Phil asks of him to win a ring!
mike wilbon (3:22 PM)
I don't know how you could leave Phil Jackson. I'm totally seduced by the magic of Phil, even going into a new job. That's me. I don't know if Melo feels that way or not. But the Knicks are trying to make it difficult for Melo to leave. I think the Bulls will simply bring over Nikola Mirotic and sign a lesser free agent IF they buy out Carlos Boozer.
Jeff (Tampa, FL)
More electrifying as a freshmen, Chris Jackson or Pearl Washington?
mike wilbon (3:27 PM)
Pearl for me...But I have people shouting at me "Allen Iverson!" I'd take any of the three. But Pearl Washington was unbelievably good...He had a little Magic Johnson in him...wasn't a big scorer though he could score...was an old-school pass-first point guard. He had to play against defenses that could hit you like linbeackers on a football field...and he did it...Jackson WAS electrifying, mostly as a scorer. I can't even conjure up a single pass he ever made but my God the kid could put it in the basket...
When do you see the Cavs as a perennial Conference Finals team? Do they have any pieces you like other than Kyrie?
mike wilbon (3:28 PM)
Not really. I can't imagine Deng will re-sign there. There's no NBA No. 2-caliber player, none. Sorry, can't sign the praises of any Cavaliers right now other than Kyrie.
How far can your boy and fellow Windy City product take the Blue Devils?
mike wilbon (3:29 PM)
to the Final Four...what, you a skeptic of jabari Parker? He's the best all-court player in the country as far as I'm concerned.
mike wilbon (3:30 PM)
Okay, we're well inside the PTI prep zone and TK is peering over my shoulder so I'm gonna jump into PTI mode...Thanks for chatting...See you guys next Monday at which time we'll be down to the Sweet 16. Have a great week of Madness. MW
Mike, I saw a video on Bleacher Report from Ric Bucher, who use to work at ESPN, and it said that the Bulls traded Luol Deng because a lot of executives think that they have "big plans" in the summer and not because they weren't going to win the title once Rose went down again. He mentioned a possible pairing of Chris Bosh with Rose and Noah. But don't we somewhat know what their plans are? Amnesty Boozer to get some cap space, go after Melo if he opts out, get Mirotic over if they don't get Melo, or is there something more behind this?
mike wilbon (3:31 PM)
I'm thinking, essentially, what you're thinking. Bosh is going to leave Miami? I can't see that...unless LeBron leaves. And if you've keeping Taj Gibson and bringing Mirotic why would you spend $20 million on Bosh who would (I think) be approaching 31?
Basketball in GA... no one cares. UGA's arena is from the 1800s. Ga Tech has no fan base. The Hawks are the hawks which is to say crickets chirping. UGA, which dominates the college conversation here, is football 24/7/365. I'm a huge sports fan and native Atlantan and can't remember the last time I watch any basketball game for 2 hours. Even the NBA finals. This is a football/baseball town and nothing else.
mike wilbon (3:32 PM)
well, there we have it, don't we!