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 p.m. ET!
mike wilbon (1:18 PM)
HI Everybody...so many things to jump into today, including the Jason Collins news, the NBA playoffs, NFL draft (God help me)...so we'll get right to it...
Mike will the Lakers be dumb enough to pay Dwight Howard 117 million after he bailed on them yesterday. Stephen A. Smith called it a disgrace. I tend to agree do you?
mike wilbon (1:21 PM)
I wouldn't keep Dwight Howard if I ran the Lakers, and would have felt that way before yesterday's debacle...He's not the same player he was before the back injury. He seems ill-suited to lead the Lakers on any level, given the demand on the player who fills that role. Dwight doesn't seem to be that player going forward for the Lakers on any level to me, and yesterday demonstrated part of it. Look, he's a terrific player and if he's playing in, say, Houston with James Harden and Chandler Parsons and Jeremy Lin and he doesn't have to carry the weight of the pressure by himself, or be the face of the franchise...that could work. But the Lakers? I don't see it.
Mike, do you envision any backlash from Collins coming out like we saw from Malone and Price when Magic tried to come back the first time? Or, in this day and age would the dissenter be ostracized?
mike wilbon (1:24 PM)
Thanks for bringing this up. We've already heard Tweets of support for Jason Collins, and not just President and Chelsea Clinton, who know the Collins twins well, but from basketball people, from Kobe Bryant and from Steve Nash among others. Is everybody going to be as enlightened as those two men? No. No chance. Will there be people, including current players, who object to Collins' lifestyle, to his going public with it? Yes, of course. Nothing in American life is met with unanimity. Nothing. I've talked to guys who say it'll be a problem sharing shower space with a gay man...to which I ask, "Don't you already share shower space with gay men and just not know it?" But let me say this...(cont'd)
mike wilbon (1:28 PM)
...I think the NBA locker room is a very different place from the NFL locker room, socially, culturally and politically. I think Jason will meet so much less resistance in the NBA locker room than he would the NFL locker room, for issues that deal with geography and religion...Not to paint with too broad a brush, but I've spent 30 years of my lives in men's locker room as a reporter for The Washington Post and now ESPN...And the sensibilities of the NFL locker room, most clubs, are those of the Southern Christian right. That's not the case in the NBA, not even close. Obviously, gay and lesbian issues are treated differently, depending on the constituencies...so while there surely will be those who voice criticism, I think Collins will mostly find support in and around the NBA...
Elliott (Gig Harbor, WA)
Say your Bulls make it the next round. How many games could they win against Miami?
mike wilbon (1:31 PM)
Two? Maybe 3...Remember, it was a 5-game series two years ago when the two played in the NBA Eastern Conference Finals, but one of those games was decided at the buzzer and another in OT...it easily could have gone 6 or 7...Miami is better, yes, than two years ago and the Bulls aren't as good...But as we saw this season when the two teams split 4 games, the Bulls KNOW HOW TO PLAY MIAMI...They've beaten then without Derrick Rose as many times as they've beaten Miami with him...So that's not the only factor at work here...Still, Miami's the best team in the NBA and I don't expect the Bulls to beat the Heat in a series this postseason...
ED (Queens Village)
Your an NBA GM would you sign Dwight Howard to max deal?
mike wilbon (1:32 PM)
Depends on the team. Houston? Yes. The Lakers? No. The pressures operating on star players are different community to community.
Steve (Salt Lake City)
Die hard Nuggets fan here so naturally this series has taken about 10 years off my life. I am a big George Karl supporter and don't think he is to blame for this collapse but he has only gotten out of the first round once in Denver. Time for a change? i think the problem is the nuggets played above their weight all season and they are getting exposed without Gallo. Love how Ty is playing this series though.
mike wilbon (1:38 PM)
Well, a lot is being made, understandably, over George Karl and that postseason record you mention, since he's been head coach in Denver. Clearly, the Nuggets have been bad defensively, committed so many dumb turnovers, and lacked that one player who can galvanize the team...Meanwhile, the Warriors have just that player in Steph Curry, whose shooting has been historically great. Curry looks like he's already about to join the short list of great shooters in NBA history, and his performances in Games 3 and 4, which have GS ahead 3-1 in the series, were truly remarkable. Curry played on 2 bad ankles last night, TWO...Mark Jackson was just about to remove him from the game for good and Curry caught fire and Denver couldn't do anything about it...It's hard to see the Nuggets winning a Game 6 in Oakland, given the nature of that home court advantage...I can't wait for the next installment of this series; it's the most entertaining of all the first-round series.
Remember how all the "stat geeks" said David Lee wasn't the massive loss some people were making him out to be and you called them out on it? Ready to be called out right back?
mike wilbon (1:38 PM)
Good and fair point! If GS wins the series, yes. I'd have to...And would do it willingly.
With Kirk out tonight and Thibs not trusting Teague at all, does Nate play 48 minutes? Belinelli has played point for a few moments this season but that doesn't seem like a great option either vs Deron Williams. Kirk being out is not good.
mike wilbon (1:41 PM)
Kirk out is awful for the Bulls not only because he's been looking more aggressively to score again, but moreso because of the defense he's played on Deron Williams in Games 2, 3 and 4...BUT, Kirk played 61 minutes in the 3OT thriller Saturday and wasn't going to be as effective in Game 5 at this point of his career. I think Belinelli played 5 minutes. Rip Hamilton didn't play. BOTH have to play tonight and big minutes at that. They can. It might even throw the Nets off to get such a completely different look this late in the series. Rip isn't what he was defensively, obviously...But he and Belinelli can make D-Will work his butt off guarding THEM...Still, you'd like to have Kirk tonight...but he has been officially ruled out.
HUGE kudos to Jason Collins. It shouldn't be something that is wildly applauded, only because people should be accepting as is; it shouldn't matter that he's a professional athlete. Very happy for Jason, and hope he continues playing and motivates others to follow his lead. With that said, what will the reaction be towards players who openly condone Collins' decision to come out? Players like Baron Davis and Kobe Bryant have already tweeted their applause and support, but what happens to those who pooh-pooh Collins' decision?
mike wilbon (1:45 PM)
I agree with the first part of your comment/question...There will be those, even in these more politically correct times, who criticize Collins, as is their right. But I think they'll be shouted down, or in some cases be forced to deal with their own ignorances on many levels...We saw this happen with Karl Malone when Magic announced he was HIV-positive 21 1/2 years ago. Malone first said he didn't want to play against Magic for fear of being exposed to contaminated blood. Over time, Malone was more critical of himself than anybody else. Players, teams, their executives, etc at least have six months before having to deal with this directly, and by that I mean in the locker room, because Collins won't play again until November at the earliest. He is a free agent, remember, who at 34 is at the end of his career. There's no guarantee, had Collins not made this announcement, that he'd be playing next season.
Deven (New York, NY)
So Jason Collins came out as gay today, which was a very bold move by him. Why do you think it took him this long to admit it?
mike wilbon (1:46 PM)
Are you even vaguely familiar with the culture of men's sports and the pressures operating on every single boy in it from the age of 4 to be ragingly heterosexual? If you're NOT familiar, that strangely enough may be progress.
Brian (New Orleans)
While I think Dwight Howard is great NBA Center (the best in the league today), he seems to lack leadership, drive to be the best, maturity, and other qualities that will lead a team to championship. Thus, teams should have pause to give $100 million contract. Do other GMs around the league agree or do his physical talents overcome all these deficiences?
mike wilbon (1:47 PM)
I totally agree with you...but there are 30 NBA GMs and they wouldn't all agree on what day it is...Some feel exactly that way about Dwight Howard. others would take him in a heartbeat if it meant having to pay him $200 million...
Deven (New York, NY)
If the Celtics lose to the Knicks in the first round, as expected, any chance this could be the final run for Pierce and KG as Celtics?
mike wilbon (1:49 PM)
Very likely. Thing is, if I ran the Celtics I would NOT get rid of Paul Pierce, who isn't a superstar of impact anymore but is still a damn productive player...There has to be a way to improve the roster without getting rid of Pierce, who's a lifetime Celtic. Whatever KG wanted, with reason in regard to a trade, I'd try to do...that's one way of making that roster younger and more athletic.
There's no denying Collins is at the tail end of his career and could very well have played his last game. That being said, if he goes unsigned and never plays again, could this be viewed as homophobic behavior?
mike wilbon (1:50 PM)
It could be...and by some would be...
Mark (St. Louis, MO)
Should Tim Tebow find a new profession or stick with being a NFL player?
mike wilbon (1:51 PM)
I'd hope some team would sign Tebow...The Jets, being the lousy organization they are, wasted a year of the kid's life and had zero clue about what to do. Why acquire him if you're not going to give him the opportunity to play...I don't think there will be a ton of teams interested, but I think there would be three or four. No?
Mike, a sincere thank-you for imploring Bulls fans to be patient with Rose. Look, we would all love to see him miraculously come back on the one year anniversary of his injury. But really, is it so much smarter and far-sighted to just acknowledge that this is something of a lost year (albeit a somewhat entertaining one) for a good-but-not-great Bulls team? Then, he can continue to train, play a normal preseason, and hopefully be largely what he was before the injury.
mike wilbon (1:53 PM)
Thank you. This has become almost the minority view...But after listening to both Magic Johnson and Jalen Rose, two guys who played about 28 NBA seasons combined, I was even more convinced this is the absolute way to go if people are more concerned about the Bulls' long-term health than the thrill of the moment...
Dan (Washington DC)
I hope history welcomes Jason Collins to an illustrious club of people who stood up with both bravery and humility. The list is long, and its incredible -- Jackie Robinson, Nelson Mandela, Arthur Ashe, Rosa Parks . . . wow!
mike wilbon (1:55 PM)
We don't move forward as a culture unless people step forward, no matter the ignorance around them, to confront issues and situations that have to be navigated. I wish all the good luck and support in the world to Jason Collins...
Where does Saturday's Bulls comeback and triple OT thriller rank for you among playoff games historically? I couldn't have asked for much more. I'd all but given up!
mike wilbon (1:58 PM)
It's pretty high on the list of playoff games in Bulls history, probably one-third of which I've seen in person...It was totally unexpected, a theft of a victory really...Now, it doesn't rank up there with any of the NBA Finals games during the Jordan era or with beating the Pistons in 1991 to reach the Finals, or the Craig Ehlo game or those playoff games in MSG with Jordan and Pippen thumping the Knicks, like the one in 1993 (Game 5)...still, it was pretty damn remarkable...
If the Lakers decide not to keep Howard, do they just let him walk (and force him to accept $30 million less and they get nothing in return), or do they try to facilitate a sign and trade? The downside for the sign and trade for the Lakers is that it would eat up cap space and restrict their ability to sign a premier free agent somewhere down the line. And Asik and Thomas Robinson (and future 1s) may be the only worthy assets in such a deal -- which may not be worth clogging up cap space.
mike wilbon (2:00 PM)
I'd let him walk and look at new and creative ways to improve the roster, even if it meant deep-sixing next season. Remember, LeBron is a free agent the next season! Suppose you make the money available to him if he opts out? It's LOS ANGELES!!! Players want to live there and play for the Lakers. The question is the powers-that-be. In the past, you had Jerry Buss, Jerry West, Mitch Kupchak, Magic Johnson and Phil Jackson working through these matters. Now? Jimmy Buss and Mitch, though you have to wonder if Jim is smart enough to defer to Mitch and his 35 years worth of basketball sense...
Scott (Charlotte, NC)
I know a lot are saying the Lakers WILL re-sign Dwight Howard, but is his offensive game something you really want to build around? Isn't a max contract player someone you can put on the court at the end of games (Reggie Miller mentioned this on the broadcast)?
mike wilbon (2:00 PM)
Katelyn (Syracuse, NY)
Thoughts on EJ Manuel and Buffalo taking him with the 16th pick in the draft?
mike wilbon (2:04 PM)
It's one of the many breathlessly overanalyzed NFL draft moves that will either be deemed an unbelievable waste of a draft pick or (Russell Wilson) a steal. I'm not one who spends any time obsessing over the NFL draft, largely because, as Bill Polian told Tony K and me last week on PTI, nobody knows! Go look at the video of Polian's Five Good Minutes session with us last week. It was brilliant and candid and all the things we rarely hear truthfully about the draft. It's one reason I love Polian, who not only is the smartest guy in football but secure enough to tell the truth. I have no idea about EJ Manuel and neither do the teams that passed on him or the one that took him. Some teams fare better than others, as we know...Look at the Jets, who a year ago brought in Tebow and were clueless about what to do with him...Then again, that's the Jets.
What if the knicks make it to the east conference finals. What are the chances they have against the heat?
mike wilbon (2:05 PM)
You want a number? 30 percent? I don't see the Knicks beating the Heat but I see NY being a worthy challenger.
Is it fair to say the West is San Antonio's to lose?
mike wilbon (2:05 PM)
Yeah, I think so...Could Steph Curry lead the Warriors past S.A. in the second round? Hard to see. But hell, I didn't have him leading the Warriors past the Nuggets in THIS ROUND, though it seems likely to happen now.
Why would the Lakers want Dwight Howard back when it doesn't look like he can handle the pressure of playing for the franchise? Why build around this?
mike wilbon (2:06 PM)
That's my question. I don't get it. What do they see that the rest of us don't? He seems completely ill-suited for the task...
Katelyn (Syracuse, NY)
Thoughts on Tyrann Mathieu? I think he deserves a second chance and that Arizona is the right team for providing it. However, I was not wowed by his post-draft interview as some were. The fact that he said he had everything and it was "taken" away, when in fact he let it slip away shows points to him still not being mature enough to recognize his responsability in what transpired.
mike wilbon (2:07 PM)
That was my impression, too, that he's no up to taking responsibility, which leads me to wonder if he can contribute on any real level...Seems like another guy who wants to blame everybody else for his stupidity...
Heath (Chisinau Moldova)
First point: I don't think it is proper to compare Magic's situation with Jason Collins' - while I supported Magic 100% in 1992, there were people concerned with contracting HIV. No one is going to contract homosexuality by playing ball. Second point: disagreeing with one's lifestyle is not the same thing as being homophobic. I could work/play ball/hang out with a gay person (and have), but I don't have to agree with their lifestyle anymore than I need to agree with someone who sleeps with loads of women or does drugs or gambles or so on. Thanks for all the great work, Mr. Wilbon!
mike wilbon (2:08 PM)
Good points, both...thanks for that.
Deven (New York, NY)
With Westbrook out for the playoffs, who is now the favorite to win the West?
mike wilbon (2:08 PM)
San Antonio...or the Clippers...
Deven (New York, NY)
Your Chicago Bulls just never give up without a fight. That was some game the other day, wasn't it? Should Miami be afraid?
mike wilbon (2:09 PM)
Champs don't tend to be afraid...Would they rather play Brooklyn? Yes. The Knicks are thrilled. They were hoping the Bulls would "beat up" Miami in a five or six game series, softening them up for, drum roll, the Knicks.
Any chance Barry Melrose is on PTI tomorrow to reveal his Stanley Cup champion prediction?
mike wilbon (2:09 PM)
I damn sure hope so. Love our segments with Melrose.
Ben S [via mobile]
Do you hate the NBA draft as much as the NFL's? That being said, your thoughts on how the Bears did?
mike wilbon (2:12 PM)
No. I don't LOVE the NBA draft--well, I do in some years...I KNOW most of the players in the first round of the NBA draft and have some opinion of them on my own...And it's not obsessed over for months and months. and it doesn't go on for three days and there aren't interminable "mock drafts" and we're not told its akin to the most important thing in the world. We're not held captive by it. There's a draft, you hold it, then move on. And you don't pretend everybody taken in it is going to change the sport.
Charles (San Jose)
Shaq was on the court at the end of games. So was Wilt. Why can't Dwight be?
mike wilbon (2:13 PM)
Great question. Shaq addressed this last night on TNT...Dwight doesn't play with the power Shaq and Wilt did, even though Dwight OUGHT to be a power player. He doesn't have a go-to move or two to power himself to the basket, like Shaq had that little flip hook in the lane and Wilt had the turn-and-finger roll...
So by about 11:05am today every major portal and news site had the collins story as the lead. It's 2pm and espn still doesn't seem to see it as a homepage worthy story.
mike wilbon (2:14 PM)
call the producers/editors in Bristol for those answers. I'm not management. All I manage is my own comments, not the web site or the network.
Paul (Portland, OR)
Mike, I know you won't say much (if you even know anything), but Simmons was hinting at some changes in the Laker front office involving Magic and Jeannie, maybe Phil? Was Simmons stirring the pot? Magic was pretty noncommital.
mike wilbon (2:15 PM)
Simmons stirs the pot, that's what Bill does and he does it damned well, if I can say so myself. There's nothing for Magic to say because the Buss family has to make those determinations (or maybe the final will of the late Jerry Buss does that) and Magic ain't a member of the Buss family to the best of my knowledge. He, like the rest of us, Bill included, have to wait and see what the Buss family comes up with in terms of who is going to have final say in basketball matters.
What do you think of Jay-Z trying to sign Popeye Jones' son Seth Jones as his agent? Also who do you like to win the Stanley Cup?
mike wilbon (2:17 PM)
I saw Popeye Thursday night and chatted with him about his son...He's incredibly proud, as you can imagine. Popeye was the one who sought out hockey programs for his son when he was a little tyke...I root for the Blackhawks and they've had the best season of anybody, who I'd love to see them reach the finals out of the Western Conference, and I'd LOVE to see them play the Capitals...But that's just me.
One pretty cool thing about the Jason Collins revelation is the KIND OF PLAYER that he is -- sort of a hard-nosed enforcer. That's gotta also help people think about what they're doing before they make ignorant assumptions/stereotypes about sexual preference.
mike wilbon (2:17 PM)
I hope so...I hope you're right about that. Yeah, Jason can stand up for himself, for sure.
mike wilbon (2:18 PM)
Okay, I gotta run and prepare for PTI today, which will really be interesting, given the range of topics we'll be dealing with today, from Jason Collins' announcement to the NBA to the draft...Thanks for chatting everybody! See you next Monday...