Chat with Michael Wilbon
Welcome to SportsNation! On Tuesday, 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 Tuesday at 11 a.m. ET!
Buzzmaster (11:50 AM)
Hey folks, Mike needs to push his chat to Tuesday, as he's still working on some NBA stuff today. Here's a note that he sent me: "The NBA Finals may be over but ESPN's coverage is ongoing ... still in San Antonio with Avery Johnson, Brian Windhorst and Chris Broussard putting together a SportsCenter special on the Miami Heat, so no chat today unfortunately ... we'll have to postpone until tomorrow morning. Sorry for the inconvenience ... but we'll catch up on everything tomorrow!"
Jason (Rehoboth Beach, DE)
I may have had you mixed up but I thought you usually do your chats on Monday. When I looked yesterday and didn't see your name it was a let down! But, glad to see you here on Tuesday! I'm a teacher and the school year is over. I'm almost finished cleaning up my room and prepared to spend my summer with my 1 year old son! I have no question today. I know you'll hit on the Heat, Spurs, USA, and the late Tony Gwynn!
mike wilbon (11:08 AM)
Indeed, we will hit all those things and more...The NBA fanatics among you perhaps are already seeing some of the segments that Avery Johnson, Brian Windhorst, Chris Broussard and I did in San Antonio regarding the Miami Heat...So with that happening mid-day we couldn't chat...But we can now, and certainly events move on quickly...We now have the U.S. victory in World Cup and have landed on the 20th anniversary of the O.J. Simpson chase...So here we go...
Hi MW Give us apreview of pti today.and if you call us knucklehads again you will answer to tony reali.
mike wilbon (11:10 AM)
There's no PTI during World Cup...no PTI until Tuesday July 1...I think that's the date...We're dark because its wall-to-wall world futbol between now and then...Sorry! It does feel so strange to have the end of the NBA Finals and no PTI to dissect it the next day...Strange...
Hi MW How Did you like the usa,s win over Ghana yesterday 2 to1 yesterday and do you think usa will make the group of 16?
mike wilbon (11:16 AM)
The win, obviously, was thrilling...The downer of seeing Ghana tie the game at 1 late, and then the reversal of emotion as the tying goal is scored so shortly thereafter when it seemed the U.S. team would have to settle for a tie...the back-and-forth of it all was astonishing...AND for the team to play through Altidore's injured hammy and Dempsey's broken nose...for those guys to have won that game when so many people were wondering if they'd win ANY game or be shut out must be an incredible rush...And teams advance out of Group by winning one game...BUT, there's way too much play ahead to be certain of anything...With the NBA Finals going on I'd been able to watch SOME World Cup play but was preoccupied with Finals stuff, like the sit-down interview I had with Tim Duncan Saturday...though I did manage to watch Italy beat England...I know the young American hero John Brooks has Illinois tattooed on his arm and his dad was a U.S. serviceman who was stationed in Germany when the son was born...I forgot to look up exactly where in Illinois the kid's dad is from...
Mike - first of all, you do a great job. Second, why the "LeBron got no help" narrative that most espouse? Like it's all the Heat players fault but LBJ. Am I really supposed to believe that Patty Mills is better than Mario Chalmers? Or Diaw is better than Bosh? Maybe it's on Riley, Spoelstra and LBJ to make the others better by building confidence and involving them in the offense. Teams are not 5-8 individual performances. I don't recall Magic Johnson ever being "let down" by poor performances by his teammates. And, why not, because he was a leader. LBJ is a great player but our modern optics are giving him a pass on this. We are really at a point where we can say Wade, Bosh, Chalmers, Allen, Battier et al aren't enough? Heck, Cowherd said LBJ was playing 1 against 8. I'm only buying it and neither should the public.
mike wilbon (11:23 AM)
I'm much closer to your position than the "LeBron has no help" position...Those guys were good enough to win TWO championships, so they provided enough help then. Okay, the loss of Mike Miller likely hurt, and we knew that already but that's on the team...You make a really smart point about Patty Mills, who had SUCH a better series than Mario Chalmers...We're not going to ignore the physical disintegration of Dwayne Wade, who was a shadow of his Hall of Fame self during the Finals...and it wouldn't surprise me (or anybody, I suspect) if there's some announcement that Wade has to have knee surgery this summer within the next couple of weeks...And I never thought the Heat would win without Wade playing at roughly the same level he played last year and the year before during the Finals...But this notion that the cupboard was bare and the Heat were somehow at a disadvantage is nonsense. They just got old and tired in a hurry...It happens to great teams, too. Happened to the Lakers in the 1991 Finals vs. the Bulls and the Pistons in the Eastern Conference Finals the series before that...Happened to the Bird Celtics three years earlier in the ECF...And then you have to hit the re-set button, which is where Miami is now...
Mike (NSW Australia)
Hey Mike love the chat. Wondering if you have ever heard of Rugby's State of Origin series. It is Australia's marquee rugby game and Game 2 of a best of 3 series is on June 18th. Have you watched any rugby or heard of State of Origin? All sports fans, i recommend youtubing State of Origin and see the pinnacle of Australian Sport. Thanks Mike and go the Blues!!!!
mike wilbon (11:24 AM)
Thank you for that! No, I am not aware of it but it sounds like something that should be on my radar...thank you!
I won't be able to make your chat but know you'd have some special words for Tony Gwynn. Great player who would have made a heck of a run at .400 were it not for the lockout in 1994. RIP.
mike wilbon (11:30 AM)
Thank you for bringing up Mr. Gwynn...I was covering MLB back in the mid-1980s when Gwynn was on his tear, winning 8 or 9 NL batting titles or whatever it was. He was such a nice man, so great to talk to about hitting or the game overall or anything, really. I'd actually first see Gwynn--I'm pretty sure this is accurate--playing point guard for San Diego State in a game against Georgetown in D.C. Goodness, I hope my memory serves correctly on that...Anyway, the most awful thing about that Summer of '94 when MLB came to a halt was that Gwynn COULD have hit .400. There were so many great story lines going on that summer but Gwynn's pursuit of .400 was the most compelling of them. It came at a time when summer's belonged to baseball on a national level in a way it simply doesn't anymore, what with the national obsession with all the OTAs and offseason NFL nonsense that bombards us these days. Baseball still owned July and August back then and Gwynn and Cal Ripken and Frank Thomas and other in-their-prime stars were front and center then...and Gwynn's passing at 54 years old is so sad and fortunately many of us have happy memories of one of the great players ever...
Hey Michael, what do you expect the Bulls to do this offseason?
mike wilbon (11:35 AM)
I don't expect them to wind up with Carmelo Anthony AND Kevin Love, which is some pie-in-the-sky scenario...If the Bulls wound up with either--and Anthony seems more likely--I'd be thrilled but I don't expect them to wind up with either. I'd LOVE to be wrong and see Carmelo joining the existing cast, or 90 percent of it, on Opening Night in November but the Bulls have zero history of Big Splash off-season moves. Zero. They build through the draft and small trades and free agent signings. The biggest deal of consequence to me was in 1987, I think it was, when they sent Charles Oakley to the Knicks for Bill Cartwright, which also freed up playing time for Horace Grant, and of course Mr. Bill and HoGrant were 2/3 of the 3-time championship front line with Scottie Pippen...But that was nowhere near the Big Deal nature that signing Carmelo Anthony would be...No, I expect the Bulls to use their draft picks, bring over Mirotic from Europe, maybe sign a minor free agent and go from there...Hope I'm dead wrong about this...Melo at small forward might be exactly what they need to challenge the new edition Heat and Pacers in the East...
Geoff (Easton, PA)
Hey Wilbon... It's amazing how although the Stanley Cup & NBA Finals finished 4 - 1 in their series that one was completely lopsided (Spurs owning Miami) and the other one was thrilling and agonizingly close. Three OT wins for LA... two of which were 2OT games... hard to believe it was "THAT" close to it even being a 4 - 1 NY Rangers Cup win. As a Rangers fan it stunk it went that direction... obviously LA is darn good and were the heavy favorites. My heart goes out to Henrik Lundqvist... he can only do so much for the Rangers.
mike wilbon (11:38 AM)
You're so right about that. Even the 3-0 Kings game was a thrill-ride. And I had emotionally checked out of the Stanley Cup Playoffs after Game 7 of Kings-Blackhawks...But I got back into it because the games were so damn thrilling. To lose 3 OT games like the Rangers did had to be simply awful...And Lundqvist was every bit as good, I thought, as quick...even in Game 5 because it seemed like the Kings were in power play mode 60 percent of that game...The 4-1 result in no way reflects the tension of the series...
From 1-3 who's to blame for Heat collapse (I got Spo first out coached by Pop every game except 1 - not similar as last year, then Wade, finally Bron 2 half excution / legs).
mike wilbon (11:42 AM)
How about saying this with me Collin: The Spurs are better.The Spurs are a better team. LeBron is the best player in the series...then probably Tim Duncan, Kawhi Leonard, Tony Parker, Ginobili then Chris Bosh...The Spurs bench is better...and while I think Coach Spo is damn good at what he does I hate the lack of some definable rotation for his bench, that people go from starting to not playing for two nights, that a guy like Udonis Haslem gets lost and has DNPCDs during a playoff series. Hell, he's too valuable for that. I HATE that about the way Miami plays...But this isn't about blame for Miami first and foremost. The Spurs are better...I thought they were only marginally better going into the series, which is why I was on record as having Spurs in 7...But by the end of Game 4 it was clear the Spurs were not just better, but superior...So, I guess you can play the blame game that has become so popular in sports now, but after watching every second of that series, I'm not going in that direction for one second.
Let's say Embiid and Wiggins each reach their potential. Who is a better fit for the Cavaliers?
mike wilbon (11:43 AM)
Still hard to find talented Bigs...I'm old-school in that way, even though the Oden/Durant scenario gives me pause...But I think I'd take Embiid IF my medical directors really and truly thought he'd be healthy...though that's the thing; there are zero assurances. None.
Simple question. You're the Pacers GM. You keeping Stephenson for his talent or letting him walk for being a "knucklehead."
mike wilbon (11:44 AM)
I'm letting him walk. His teammates and his coach DO NOT WANT HIM AROUND. Period. I'm not speculating. They'd rather not have him anywhere near the team. Bird should let him walk.
Mike (Dallas, TX)
Who do you think has had the better career Duncan or Kobe? Pretty tough one.
mike wilbon (11:46 AM)
How do you pick between them? I don't think I can. I think both are arguably among the top 10 players of all time. They're certainly among the top 15 in my book...But if I was to do an updated Top 10...for me its in some order Russell, Jordan, Magic, Kareem, Wilt, Oscar, Bird and then maybe Kobe, Duncan, Jerry West...That's a pretty decent top 10, right?
What are your memories of the OJ Chase, and did you know him well before that incident?
mike wilbon (11:51 AM)
Glad you brought that up...I was in New York, like so many other sportswriters, to cover Game 5 of Knicks-Rockets in the NBA Finals...Was in my hotel room in midtown all day--I recall it being extremely hot and sunny, in the 90s--watching TV and it was somewhere around 5 p.m. or so when I became aware of the "white Bronco" and became transfixed by the chase...I'd never watched anything like that before, though I know chases were all the rage on CNN back then...Anyway, I was newly dating someone who was taking the train up from D.C. to NYC to go to the game and we could barely stop watching the chase, once she arrived, to go to The Garden...And once the game started my attention was never fully on it. And I remember all the people in The Garden behind the scorer's table standing and craning their necks to see the little TVs along press row...The game was so secondary to me...and it didn't help that the series was so--how should I say this--aesthetically awful. Choppiest, least free flowing, most foul-plagued series I've ever seen...(more)
mike wilbon (11:59 AM)
...Anyway, yeah I knew O.J. Simpson. I'm way too young to have covered even the end of his career but he pretty quickly went to NBC and covered the NFL for the network that televised most of his games as a Buffalo Bills great. And I was assigned to cover the NFL full time by The Washington Post in 1986, and had done part-time NFL coverage since 1983...My sports editor at The Post, George Solomon, had covered O.J. as a player and O.J., because he was so fond of George, went out of his way to introduce me around when I was a neophyte...introduced me to owners and league/team officials...treated me to dinner on the road more than once. There was no better company at that time...O.J. was the best story-teller, the guy who charmed all his colleagues' wives at dinner (no jokes please), who picked up the check (if the restaurant charged him at all)...I remember David Aldridge and I hanging out with O.J. and a crew at a place called the UP & DOWN club in Barcelona in '92 on the even of the Olympics...Again, I'm pretty sure my memory serves correct on that detail though I should double-check with Aldridge...Anyway, I was numb when I saw the chase...just numb, almost sick...I watched every second of everything related to that case, all of it...When O.J. was acquitted and moved to South Florida, my mother called me and told me she saw him in the Publix down there...I've never seen him...not once in 20 years even with all the golf courses we must have been on at approximately the same time...And I'm glad I haven't seen him...What do you say to O.J. Simpson when you actually know him? "What's up Juice?" It's just one of the sad, bizarre, fascinating stories in American pop culture history...And I can't believe its been 20 years today...
mike wilbon (12:00 PM)
ooops..."eve" of the Summer Olympics...
Ralph Wiley passed away ten years ago. Could you say a few words about what he meant to sports journalism and to your own writing and television career?
mike wilbon (12:10 PM)
Yes he did...A much more honorable man we can segue to and my dear friend and mentor. I was sitting in the press room at the end of a Pistons-Lakers Finals game when I got a call from Cole Wiley, Ralph's son, who said, "Mr. Wilbon, I know you're probably on deadline and I know you're with all my dad's friends...but he died of a heart attack tonight...we were watching the game" and I don't recall the rest of the conversation...I just felt so bad for Cole, who must have been 12, 13 years old at the time, something like that...Ralph was something approaching a god to young sportswriters of any race, but certainly black sportswriters which there were so few of 20 years ago...Ralph stamped us all...challenged us and our thinking, demanded that we be better than we were at the time, however good that was. When I first started writing a column for The Washington Post, Ralph would leave me, unsolicited, voice mail messages back in the day you had a machine with actual tape...and it would be an 8-minute message or something like that...always on Saturday mornings, and he'd critique my column...rip it, praise it, dissect it...Early on I recall thinking, "Who the hell is this guy to call me like this and kill my column??" Very quickly, I became addicted to his critiques. He coached my ass off...Ralph, along with TK and several editors at The Post (Leonard Shapiro, Sandra Bailey and of course George Solomon) are the people I most owe for whatever success I had as a columnist...and that's just Ralph as a mentor. As a columnist his voice and point of few were singular. There was nobody like him and never will be. You can read them somewhere in the ESPN library...His voice could be pointed, sarcastic, critical, lauding...It was studied and precise and when Ralph wanted to he could slice you and you didn't know until you saw the blood pouring. He was a wordsmith but didn't talk just to impress you with the language even though he mastered it...Every year that passes we miss his common sense writing and story telling more, the short stories, the books, all of it. We miss him...
mike wilbon (12:14 PM)
Okay, ending with the anniversary of Ralph Wiley's death is probably the way to go because there's no encore for me, really...There's no PTI but I promised to join another friend and mentor, Mike Lupica, on his radio show from New York today...I'm betting the NBA Finals and the 20th anniversary of OJ are going to consume our conversation...Thanks for chatting everybody...I'm going to be away the next two weeks, through the 4th of July weekend...But with NBA Free Agency coming up right about that time, and status of so many players including LeBron and Carmelo Anthony to be determined, we'll chat again in the midst of it...Hope you all enjoy your summertime...See you soon...MW