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Michael Wilbon
Washington Post Sports Columnist
Monday, February 27, 2006; 1:15 PM

Welcome to another edition of The Chat House where Post columnist Michael Wilbon talked about the latest in sports news.

The transcript follows.

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washingtonpost.com: Michael Wilbon will be with us momentarily. Thank you for staying tuned ...

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Alexandria, Va.: Mike - Unlike many I actually enjoyed the Olympics, and don't know why there's so much whining about how boring they are, but on to exciting topics.

ESPN is reporting that the Redskins are shopping Ramsey. This is obviously no surprise, but what I want to know is: How do players feel about this? Not that they want to keep him, but is there any feeling that he got a raw deal?

Because I know most fans believe St. Joe can do no wrong, but I think he completely shafted Ramsey if not lied to him about what his chances would be to start for the team, and we saw how successful Brunell was by the end of the season.

Michael Wilbon: No...Raw deal? How? I'm sure Ramsey has friends on the team who will be sorry to see him go. He really is about the nicest guy you could ever meet...or certainly seems that way to me. But he didn't do anything to indicate he ought to have the job on lockdown...So raw deal? No...

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Mr. Arenas' Neighborhood: With LaVar Arrington ostensibly losing his title as The Face of Washington Sports, shouldn't Gilbert Arenas assume the title? He has everything you want. Charisma, sublime talent, credibility that transcends race and culture, and not to mention a knack for making the big shot. Hail Gilbert!

Michael Wilbon: I'm with you entirely on the Gilbert Arenas thing. He's becoming a great player as look on. And he's trying to become a clutch player as well, one that can lead his team someplace...He's a worker...a fanatical worker, actually. He's feisty without being over the top...And he's never satisfied. Some guys claim they're self-critical. Arenas is, probably to a fault.

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Hermosa Beach, Calif.: Wizards are on an amazing run. Where do you see them in the playoffs if they make it?

Michael Wilbon: Well, I wouldn't call it an amazing run...it's a nice run. And it needs to continue. Yes, the Wizards will make the playoffs as long as Arenas and Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison remain reasonably healthy. But there's no point in finishing 7th or 8th and having to play Detroit or Miami in the first round. The Wiz should finish no lower than fifth in the East, although sixth could be preferable...If I played for the Wiz I'd be perfectly comfortable paying New Jersey int he first round, which would be a 3 vs. 6 matchup. And I'd be fine playing Cleveland in the first round as well...I don't think the Cavaliers are going to scare anybody this season.

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Silver Spring, Md.: Mike, it seems like just yesterday that Mary was bugging you to get her a Salt Lake City beret. My how time flies!

Michael Wilbon: Hey, it seems like just yesterday to me that I was taking a train from Albertville to Lyon to Paris for my post-Albertville vacation...And that was 14 years ago...1992 for crying out loud. I really like the Winter Olympics in person (I've done three of them) but didn't get into it on the tele...just couldn't get into it at all. I probably watched a total of, oh, 7 or 8 hours max the whole two weeks. I have no complaints about the coverage or what happened over there...though I am happy that Bode Miller, the fraud, went bust. At least he's out of our lives.

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Gaithersburg, Md.: over/under

GW in the NCAA Tourney.

sweet 16?

(gw schedule = weak)

Michael Wilbon: push...I think they'll get to the Sweet 16, but not beyond...not with Pops at less than full strength.

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Washington, D.C.: Is there any reason why Gibert Areanas does not get any respect from the National Media? He is AVERAGING 28.9 points per game. Do you think it has to do with how is is marketed?

Michael Wilbon: Stop with the "respect" silliness. You get "respect" when you win, okay? LeBron got booed the other night at home in Cleveland. Anybody who covers basketball, whether it's in the Los Angeles Times or the New York Times or the Arizona Republic.

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Cold cubicle: How's the weather in AZ?

Michael Wilbon: It was blue skies and upper 60s Tuesday and Wednesday, 70s Thursday, Friday and Saturday...82 yesterday in Scottsdale...And I have insanely returned to arctic conditions and snow flurries today! It was damn near perfect in Arizona, to answer your question.

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Suffolk, Va.: Mason blew it to Hofstra earlier this week, but showed back up and demolished Madison. What are their chances of being a serious tournament contender, not top 4, but could you see them as a cinderella elite 8 or a sweet 16 team.

Michael Wilbon: I haven't seen Mason play this season, so I can't speak to the team's chances with any legitimacy. The worst thing about the NFL season running a week deep in Feburary (for those of us writing sports columns)...The next week I went to watch Duke-Maryland, then to Houston for the All-Star game...and suddenly, it was the 20th of February...GMU isn't in town this week (though the Wizards host the Pacers Wednesday and I will see that)...I hate not having seen GMU in person...but I hope to in March.

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Falls Church, Va.: Who decides the list of headlines for PTI? How much inputs do you and Tony have, and how much is decided by the Producer(s)?

Michael Wilbon: We're sitting here and doing that now...the producers, Tony and I...We've talked already this morning by phone about the things we're individually interested in from what happened over the weekend. We do it much the same way we are on the air...just rapid fire bursts of conversation, only with more people. But let me give the lion's share of the credit to Erik Rydholm and Matt Kelliher, who are working on these stories at 8 in the morning while Tony works on his radio show and while I work on another hour of sleep.

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Washington D.C. : Sorry for another George Washington question, but I have to ask. How come every D.C.-are person that likes Georgetown cannot be happy for George Washington's fantastic season? While I agree that they're strength of schedule doesn't merit a No. 6 ranking (or a 2-seed for that matter), they've only lost once, they a fun style of play, they haven't had a good team in 10 years and they have a charismatic player in Pops. How is this even a rivalry if they don't even play eachother? Can't these coaches get together and figure out how to schedule one game a year?

Michael Wilbon: Well, there is a very real rivalry between Georgetown and George Washington. They haven't played each other, and reports are that Georgetown refused to play GW this season...so I understand. Are the Maryland people happy for Georgetown right now? No, you know they aren't. This is what rivalries are made of...I didn't go to school or grow up here, so I kinda root for all the local colleges to do well...I'd like to see GU and GW and GMU--all the Georges--go as far as possible...

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Coconut Creek, Fla.: Mr. Wilbon,

With Tony doing MNF, will we ever see the once unthinkable spectacle of Tony doing PTI from the road while you are in studio?

Michael Wilbon: No sir...PTI will travel on Mondays...somtimes come to you from location again Tuesday...Could it happen? I guess. But I like being on location for Monday games. I did it for four years when I covered pro football for The Post.

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Re: Respecting Gilbert: Let's remember Gilbert himself says he doesn't want the kind of fame LeBron, Kobe, etc. have (check out the little piece about him in the most recent Sports Illustrated). I think Gilbert is happy with his "fame" situation. He obviously feeds off being the underdog (the guy wears #0 for a reason), and is his words, he likes the fact he can go to Blockbuster and pick up a movie w/out causing a scene.

Michael Wilbon: Oh, you're right. He does feed off his underdog status. But if he leads the Wizards to the second round again (which, by the way, is further than T-Mac has ever taken a team) then his fame will grow...If they slip past somebody (which won't happen this season) and get to the conference finals, then it's big-time fame.

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Leesburg, Va.: We all know Boz does a great job writing about the Nats. Do you have plans on writing any Nats articles this year? I know you're going to be busy with basketball, but it would be nice to get an opinion from someone who's not a homer.

Michael Wilbon: Ooooh, what a shot at Boz! Come on now, I wouldn't want to read me on baseball if I can read Boz instead. In fact, there are times when I've been planning on writing a Nats column, have called Boz and begged him to write instead...Boz sometimes does the same with me in spring with pro basketball. It's not like we're not paying attention to the "other" sport...but we LIVE our primary sport. I follow the Cubs and White Sox closely, but I'm not on top over every single baseball development because I am into virtually every football and basketball development...Anyway, by the time the NBA draft ends (nearly July) and I take a couple of weeks off, it's time for NFL camps. So I may write a column or two on the Nationals, but not much more than that.

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Washington, D.C.: I believe the George Washington/Georgetown rivalry goes back more than 200 years when one was a colonial general and the other was the king of England.

Michael Wilbon: Thanks, we needed that.

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New York : In response to the question about Gil Areanas not getting respect from the national media. I don't think it's JUST about winning. Look at T-Mac. The guys is one of the most marketed players in the league and he has not been a clutch post-season player.

Michael Wilbon: Marketing is paid for by sponsors. Media covers sports, reports on sports and the people who play. Sounds like you guys are confusing the two. Read the national clips on T-Mac every spring and get back to me. He gets ripped for not getting to the second round...ever...Reebok pumping T-Mac has nothing to do with the national media and what is writing or reporting on T-Mac.

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Cleveland Park, Washington, D.C.: Why is NASCAR so popular? To me it appears about exciting as if they televised Beltway traffic. What am I not getting?

Michael Wilbon: The relationship between the patrons and the driver, between the patrons and the feeling they get from the entire culture of racing, from the event itself to the staging of it, to the what it represents (at least in their minds)...It's not my cup of tea, either...but I can see the connection and it's very real.

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Washington, D.C.: Can't disagree with Gilbert being the face of DC sports, but I'd go with Clinton Portis. I love this guy. He works like a dog, sacrifices his body every week, and is a absolute riot.

Michael Wilbon: Well, I don't know about absolutely riot. I'd say Charles Barkley is a riot, not Portis...But Portis is a good choice. At the moment--and it certainly influences the conversation that we're in basketball season right now--I'd go Arenas, then LaVar Arrington (yes, still, because people know him...he's been here for awhile) and then Portis...

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Silver Spring, Md.: Glad to see you're gonna be watching the Wiz take it to Indy. Try not to dismiss this out of hand as the ramblings of a Wiz partisan but it seems prety possible to me for the Wiz to go as high as the 3 seed. NJ and Cleveland are very passable and outside of the Det & Miami I don't see any team the WIzards should fear in the East in a 7 game series. Cleveland is definitely gonna fade down the stretch and NJ is relying on a banged up Carter to carry them. We're coming for their spots, be forwarned.

Michael Wilbon: Sorry to hurt your feelings, but the Wizards can only finish No. 3 if they pass Miami and win the division. You really want to make that case? I didn't think so. Going into the playoffs as the No. 4 seed, which means home-court advantage in the first round, would be a great season for Washington...No. 3 ain't happening this year unless Dwyane Wade gets hurt, and I hope to Heaven that doesn't happen.

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Washington, D.C.: Hey Mike, Are the TarHeels a Sweet 16 team this year? They seem to be peaking at a great time and appear on TV to really enjoy playing for Roy.

Thanks

Michael Wilbon: Enjoyment has nothing to do with it...but I think the Tar Heels simply making the tournament after losing the top 7 scorers and rebounders from last year's team is amazing. I don't know about the sweet 16...Maybe...If you're good in the ACC, you're good. So maybe. Tyler Hansborough is a bad, bad boy.

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Arlington, Va.: PTI guest today? If so, who?

Michael Wilbon: Richard Justice, our dear friend from the Houston Chronicle...We're going to talk about the controversy surrounding Vice Young and the Wonderlic test...should be fun and hopefully enlightening.

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Leesburg, Va.: Mike,

If GMU doesn't win the Colonial tourney this weekend should they get an invitation to the Dance? If yes, will they?

Michael Wilbon: To be safe, George Mason needs to reach its conference tournament final...There could be a slew of upsets after that...And we've seen the committee completely trash deserving teams in smaller conferences before...

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New York, N.Y.: Michael,

I am a big fan of yours, but I was rather disappointed with your defense of Bryant Gumbel's comments regarding the Winter Olympics in two respects. First, the Olympics are an international event and not solely one for the United States. To argue that the "whiteness" of the sports distracts from the event to me is unfair considering that many of the countries in which the athletes come from are predominantly, if not almost exclusively, white. It is not as if their is some world wide institutional bias against the black athlete with respect to the sports of the Winter Olympics. Second, and closely related, is his description of the event as a GOP convention is unfair. Those same countries that are predominantly white also are likely to be left of the Democratic Party in this country, some boarding on socialist.

Michael Wilbon: Once again, I defended Bryant Gumbel one one score: I thought it was a funny line. He meant it to be a funny line. I know that humor, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder...I liked the line, thought it was funny, and know that Gumbel has a great appreciation for the Winter Games...But he doesn't have to be reverential about the damn Winter Olympics..I see your point, serious...But I don't think taking a shot at the Olympics is that big a deal.

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Washington, D.C.: How is it that the Pistons have stayed together for so long?

Michael Wilbon: Hasn't been THAT long. Rasheed Wallace is in his third season there...Remember, the coach has changed. Ben Wallace is due to be a free agent. Teams can stay together for four or five seasons...And another BIG reason is that Joe Dumars, who runs the team day to day, knows exactly what he's doing. How lucky are the Pistons (and how smart is their owner) to keep Dumars right there in Detroit?

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New York, N.Y.: The Big East Tournament is going to be amazing! I can't wait. Are you gonna be coming up to NY to spend some time at 33rd and 7th in March?

Michael Wilbon: Yes, I am. I've covered the ACC Tournament for 11 straight years, but I'm going back to the Big East, which I last covered when Allen Iverson was in his second and final season...I can't wait...CANNNOT WAIT to see it...especially with all the teams on the bubble (Louisville, Seton Hall) who are going to need victories to get into the NCAA Tournament.

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Woodbridge, Va.: Are the Cubs deluding themselves by thinking Wood and Pryor are going to be able to go all year? I don't see it happening, given the recent history.

Michael Wilbon: The Cubs are always deluding themselves...Always.

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RE: Face of Washington Sports: You have to put Alexander Ovechkin in the conversation...at least...with Gilbert Arenas.

Michael Wilbon: No, I don't. I started to write the sentence: "Don't anybody mention Alex Ovechkin." Not that he isn't great because clearly he is...But if he walked onto the steps of the U.S. Capitol, 95 out of 100 people would have no idea who he is...even if he was holding a stick and wearing skates...Arenas would be known, at least, by 30 of 100..okay, 20 to 25...Ovechkin has a long way to go to build any kind of Q-rating, even locally.

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Silver Spring, Md.: When can we expect another Wizards column? I suspect you rarely watch their games but you've been missing out lately with the exception of a tough loss to Dallas before the break where Arenas wasa no show the team is really starting to round into shape. Check out the Memphis game tonight where the eastcoast assasin will definitely be putting in work along side my new favorite player Butler who is quietly killing teams with his all around toughness. Did you see him stare down KG??? What team needs a presence like that more then the Wiz?

Michael Wilbon: Dude, you suspect I rarely watch Wizards games, yet you ask when I'm going to write a Wizards column? What newspaper are you reading? I've seen more Mavericks, Suns and Bulls games this year than you've seen Wizards games. I haven't written many Wizards columns because, as I said earlier, the Super Bowl ended two minutes ago and then there was All-Star weekend. Don't fret, the Wizards have 30 more games and there's plenty of time to write about them...Plus that, the Wizards ought to be in the playoffs for a month...I expect Memphis, which is playing really well, to win tonight at home but the Wizards could really open some eyes by winning down there...But losing at Memphins is no disgrace...The Wiz can bounce right back from that one, as long as they play well tonight...

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Michael Wilbon: Okay, gotta run to prepare for PTI...Wow, look what we have the next two weeks. A week from today, we're really going deep into the NCAA tournament. And the next week, we're dealing with selection Sunday leftovers...Chat then. Mike

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