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!
Jay (New York City)
Michael, love your chats. Which were you more surprised by, LeBron going back to Cleveland or Germany winning the WC?
mike wilbon (1:42 PM)
HI Everybody...In Los Angeles for The ESPY Awards Wednesday and events that surround the ESPYs...Had the pleasure of watching World Cup yesterday with my friends, Hans and Patti Rockenwagner at their beautiful home in L.A. He's German, she's from Argentina...It was a blast...couldn't have had a cooler setting to watch the game...But I know there's a ton of NBA free agency interest as well...So here we go!
mike wilbon (1:45 PM)
Bigger surprise has to be LeBron going to Cleveland, right? You can't ever be surprised when Germany wins, considering they've won four times and been in the Final four more times...Germany has been in 8 of the 20 World Cup Finals, so there's just no way you can be too shocked at Germany winning. LeBron going back to Cleveland, as recently as 10 days ago, seemed a long shot. Personally, I think it's great he's gone back...
As of today, how do you see the East shaping up next season? Are the top 4 teams Chicago, Indy, Cleveland and Miami or Washington?
mike wilbon (1:49 PM)
Isn't this THE question in the wake of LeBron's move to Cleveland? I find it almost impossible, at this point of the summer with rosters not set, to distinguish between the Cavaliers, Wizards, Bulls, Raptors, Pacers and Heat...Did I leave out anybody? I think Charlotte will be better...That leaves the Knicks for 8th, I guess...But that first six seems pretty darn even at this point. I don't see Cleveland coming out of the East in Year 1 of LeBron's Return. Too many young guys to win...Now, if the Cavs trade Wiggins for Kevin Love (and yes, I'd do that...I would) I might amend that and make the Cavs the favorite...I know Love has never even PLAYED IN A PLAYOFF GAME and has no more experience in that regard than Wiggins, but I just think Love would be good playing with LeBron and his overall experience would be more valuable in May than Wiggins' having none...
Mike P (Greater Kc Metro)
Which FA will have a bigger impact on their team this coming seasonDeng to Miami, Gasol to Chicago, Lin to Lakers or Pierce to Wizards?
mike wilbon (1:51 PM)
I love the Paul Pierce signing by the Wizards. It both frees up playing time for Otto Porter Jr. who has to get it in gear AND gives the Wizards a grizzled vet who can help that entire outfit learn how to be better in May/June...Love it...Having said that, I think Gasol and or Deng might have a greater personal impact, in terms of statistically on the team. Deng might have to be Miami's second-best player...Gasol ought to benefit from playing with a great passer like Noah...I might pick Deng if you force me to take one of them...But I like all three of those signings.
Mike P (Greater Kc Metro)
Will we ever know how much Miami offered Lebron to stay in Miami. I ask because I know Lebron is going to get 21 million a year but did he take a hometown discount to come home?
mike wilbon (1:52 PM)
He didn't take any discount...He'll make in excess of $20 million each of the next two seasons and would have made that in Miami...Finances are of zero consequences once we get to the words "max salary." LeBron took a short deal so he can re-sign with the team after the new TV deal is in place, which could bump him up toward $30 million a year in time...
Bryan (Springdale, AR)
Chandler Parsons to the Mavs is interesting, because not only are his stats still climbing, but he is young and he is going to be guided by Rick Carlisle, maybe the 2nd best coach in the NBA. Coach Carlisle has a history of getting the best out of players that other coaches could not. Do you see him being able to do the same with Parsons and Felton next year? A lineup of those two plus Dirk, Ellis, and Chandler looks like a possible contender?
mike wilbon (1:54 PM)
Looks like another good team in the Western Conference to me...Dallas might have pulled even with Houston, in fact. I, like you, think Parsons will only get better and he'll benefit from playing for Carlisle and WITH Dirk...Do I put Dallas above San Antonio or the Clippers? NO. I don't see that.
Cris A. (Dallas TX)
What where your thoughts of this years WC?
mike wilbon (2:00 PM)
I watched more World Cup than ever before, and I watched a pretty fair amount in 2002 and 2006...I enjoyed it tremendously, right through yesterday's Final...It's not going to vault soccer ahead of the NBA, NFL, NHL, MLB, PGA, tennis, college football and basketball for me, but I will probably watch more EPL than usual...At least, I'll start out that way in Sept, Oct. But I enjoyed the coverage, the communal watching (For 34 years I've watched games either in a press box/at press row or in in solitude because I want TO WATCH THE GAMES...not eat nachos and high five people), the international passion surrounding the games. I enjoyed it...and I'm tremendously happy it replaced phony NFL non-stories for a full month...and wish it could push pro football off the big stage until August...Alas, that's wishful thinking. The NFL will be front and center starting, oh, now...I love it come mid-August but an extra month is intolerable for me...So, kudos to everything World Cup...
Do you think...Lebron would have left Miami if the Heat had won this year's championship?Personally, i think too many decisions are made based on emotions.
mike wilbon (2:02 PM)
He didn't make the decision 48 hours after losing. He had a month. you're from Florida. You probably don't get it, although you get the part where he left Cleveland after losing to come to you...He went home. Could you see yourself going home? Open your head to the possibility.
James (Utica, NY)
Do you think the Bulls are now legitimate title contenders with the additions of Gasol, Mirotic, McDermott and Hinrich. They are 10 deep. No excuses for Thibs to play guys 40 minutes a night
mike wilbon (2:05 PM)
The Bulls are a threat to come out of the East, sure. Do they look to be even with the Spurs, Clippers, OKC? No. not to me. Where is the proven scoring they needed to add? Where is the outside shooting? Mirotic is a rookie. McDermott is a rookie. Young guys don't win jack in the NBA. The Spurs and Heat, who played for the last to championships, are the oldest teams in the NBA...Who will the Bulls throw the ball to in the final minutes of playoff games when the HAVE to score? McDermott ain't Carmelo. Mirotic ain't Melo. Hinrich has been on the team for, what, 8 of the last 10 years or something like that? Gasol, I feel, is an upgrade because he's a better 2-way player than Boozer and because I think he and Noah will compliment one another tremendously...But I still wonder about the Bulls ability to shoot it from 3 and to score against suffocating defense.
I guess winning isn't important to Carmelo Anthony. We all know what is...money $$$$. This isn't a new concept I know. We hope you enjoy mediocrity Melo!
mike wilbon (2:07 PM)
Eric, however old you are it's likely you're not as old as me, likely haven't rooted for the Bulls as long as I have (since the franchise was born)...and if you act like $52 million is something to just ignore so guys like you can pat him on the back that would make you a fool. It's $52 million. When you turn your back on $1 million then you can ridicule Carmelo Anthony. I, too, hoped he would come to the Bulls, knowing DAMN WELL I wouldn't turn down $52 million...So stop it.
Thoughts on Andrew Wiggins? He's been criticized for being not the most assertive and his inability to create much off the dribble. Those weaknesses seem not as important now if he's playing next to Lebron and Kyrie, right? He can focus to being like a Kawhi Leonard -- play well on D and let offense come to him
mike wilbon (2:08 PM)
That's not Wiggins' game, and its not why Cleveland drafted him and its not why the T-Wolves will trade for him, if they do. I'd trade him for Love in a heartbeat, realizing he might be a start in three years...BUT feeling that Love, with his skill set, would be a great tag-team teammate for LeBron right now...and Love is 26...
Did LBJ led the Heat and players on too long with his decision? Miami drafted Napier? Players opted out. And FA were signed, Presumably to form a team around him. From his letter, seemed like it was what he wanted for some time is to sign back in Cleveland.
mike wilbon (2:09 PM)
Did you read carefully? If we're using his letter as evidence he also said the day the season ended he didn't think he was going anywhere.
mike wilbon (2:10 PM)
The salary cap went up by $5 million per team and that meant there were going to be some inflated salaries...and there have been...Wait until after the new TV deal!
Is Windhorst going to spend more of his in Ohio again?
mike wilbon (2:11 PM)
I meant to text and ask him that last night and fell asleep...Ohio is his home, too. I'd guess that he'll have to spend more time there this season. All of us who cover the NBA will have to do that...
Stuart (Brooklyn, NY)
Hi Mike. Love your work! I'm headed to Chicago in August. Where are the best steaks? Is Chicago Cut Steakhouse or Michael Jordan's the best? Thanks for all that you do!
mike wilbon (2:13 PM)
I have lunch all the time at Michael Jordan's, on Michigan Ave in the Intercontinental Hotel...and I have dinner quite frequently at Chicago Cut, which I think is one of the very, very best steakhouses in the U.S. Del Frisco's is another Chicago steakhouse I love...As is Mastro's...There's no shortage of great restaurants in Chicago and you don't have to limit yourself to steakhouses...
I thought lebron's article was incredibly well done and heartfelt, having said that, say he leaves clevelend in (2 years!) and they don't make an NBA Finals, the (currently) great article looks incredibly insincere and PRish, no? Lots of pressure on him to get things done now, I love it.
mike wilbon (2:15 PM)
I, too, loved the essay in SI...I don't think he leaves in 2 years. I think he re-does his contract as a "free agent" unless something extraordinary happens. Who knows, though? Not many people had him going back this summer either, though I know one who did: Avery Johnson. Said publicly, on air, the day after the Finals in a show I moderated that he thought LeBron was going to Cleveland in July..Kudos to Avery.
Do the heat retire lebron's jersey at some point?
mike wilbon (2:16 PM)
If Pat Riley can retired Michael Jordan's number and he never played a minute in Miami, then you damn better believe LeBron's will be retired.
Was Houston the biggest loser of the NBA off-season so far? They seemed on the verge of landing Bosh and keeping Parsons, make the necessary trades to free up the room to do so, and now have neither of them. Ouch.
mike wilbon (2:17 PM)
Yeah, I root for D. Morey because the Rockets GM is a Northwestern Wildcat, so I have to ask him after this period is all done about the strategy...Clearly, once he signed Trevor Ariza it was a hedge (and a much cheaper one) against keeping Parsons. But losing him in-state seems to be a tough decision. And I wonder about Houston's depth without Asik and Lin...
Do you think the new ownership and Jason Kidd can turn Milwaukee into a place that can attract marquee free agents? Should they just stick to building through the draft? Thanks.
mike wilbon (2:19 PM)
Dude, how many markets attract marquee free agents? Hell, Chicago has enough trouble doing that historically. Milwaukee can't count on that. Milwaukee can't even keep the big stars it drafts (Lew Alcindor)...Teams like the Jazz and Bucks HAVE to build through the draft and smart trades.
Could you elaborate on why you'd trade Wiggins for Love?
mike wilbon (2:21 PM)
Because Love is ready right now to mix it up in the post-season, I presume. Wiggins, a rookie, is not. Rookies not named Johnson, Bird, Jordan rarely are. And even MJ lost 9 of his first 10 playoff games. Wiggins doesn't ever figure to rebound like Love does (12.5 per game last season) or pass that way. He might score more but Love scores plenty. How many things is Wiggins, in the next four or five seasons, going to do as well as Love does right now, while LeBron is in his physical prime?
Scott (Westminster, CO)
Who would've guessed back in April that CLEVELAND would be on e of the most-talked about sports cities now...who will be the bigger celeb there - LBJ or Johnny Football? THe Akron Hammer is the best player in the game but NFL is king...
mike wilbon (2:22 PM)
Don't be a clown. We don't know if Johnny Football will even be a competent starter in the NFL. I hope he will be, and I think he will be. But LeBron James is the greatest player in his sport today. Johnny Football isn't even the No. 1 guy on the depth chart of a sorry, no-account team. Stop it. Wake up.
The difference is NOT $52 million! You can't compare a 4 year contract with a 5 year contract, unless you assume Melo would get nothing in year five. Intellectually dishonest.
mike wilbon (2:24 PM)
How intellectually dishonest is it to presume Melo will command $25 million in one season when he is 35 years old...which is what you're doing? That $129 million (okay, did it drop to $122?) is fully guaranteed. If Melo was 26 I would look at the contract comparison differently. But he's not. He's 30. Where would he command $25 million at 35? Come on, Dude.
When it's all said and done, who is considered the better all-time coach? Popovich or Phil Jackson?
mike wilbon (2:25 PM)
Phil Jackson has how many rings? 11 right? Pop has 5. What you say?
Over/Under: Games D. Rose plays this year 50.5
mike wilbon (2:25 PM)
Over. 78...I'm a fan. Consider the source. None of us knows. None.
Other than health (as is case for almost everyone), is Tony Snell development maybe the key to the Bulls season? If he can become a Jimmy Butler type player, I think their size is going to give most teams in the East a lot of trouble.
mike wilbon (2:26 PM)
Snell has some upside but I'm not going to predict the Bulls season on his development. He should be a 7th man, at best, on a team with serious championship aspirations.
How was it playing golf with the President? Did you let him win?
mike wilbon (2:30 PM)
The President of the United States hit a 50-yard bunker shot to the back fringe, then sank a downhill 25-foot putt for par on No. 18 with a big gallery on the clubhouse balcony watching to make the tag-team of Obama/Wilbon winners at TPC Potomac Saturday afternoon, thank you. The President isn't some charity case on the golf course. He can hit it. When he's out of office and on the practice range with regularity (which he says he will be) he'll get the handicap down to, I think, a 10 or 12...That's where I am now. And he wouldn't have had to get up-and-down on 18 if I hadn't choked on a four-foot putt on 16...Ouch.
So they give Hinrich basically what DJ got...y did they go for the older more injury proned Hinrich over DJ?
mike wilbon (2:32 PM)
Hinrich is a club fave. I get that. He's 6-foot-4 and can play both guard positions AND he can play defense, which DJ cannot play to save his life, as we saw in the playoffs when Andre Miller repeatedly abused him. BUT, DJ won games for the Bulls last year with his offense. I think somebody will pop up on that Bulls roster who will be the new John Lucas/Nate Robinson/DJ Augustine...Thibs/Gar/Pax seem to find somebody every season...They'd better do the same this year or there's gonna be a huge hole.
mike wilbon (2:33 PM)
Okay, gotta run and prepare for PTI, which I guess is back on ESPN today since World Cup is over and the British Open is not yet started...Looking forward to the show...and some time off after that...We'll do one more chat, next week, before taking off until the week before Labor Day...Thanks for hanging out with me today everybody...Have a great week...MW