Washington Post Sports Columnist
Monday, February 11, 2008 1:15 PM
Welcome to another edition of The Chat House where Post columnist Michael Wilbon was online Monday, Feb. 11, 1:15 p.m. ET to take your questions and comments about the latest sports news and his recent columns.
The transcript follows.
Blacksburg, Va.: Mike -- get healthy! Watch that diet! Eat right, exercise. We need you! You're obviously an insider. You speak to "Mr. Snyder." You've seen the team stumble and bumble since he bought it. Give me a reason to believe this time will be different!? Please?
Michael Wilbon: Hi everybody ... I'm back ... back in D.C. anyway. Back at all my work, and happy and feeling damn lucky to be able to do so. I just left a nutritionist ... oh my God! It's like I'm burying me me own life of 49 years and two months. ... No Big Macs, no more donuts, no French fries, no Leon's barbeque on the South Side of Chicago (well once a year, probably in July) ... no double-carbs, no more Frosted Flakes, no more vanilla ice cream and chocolate syrup (Bosco is the No. 1 choice for those of you from the Midwest of a certain age). ... So, this is quite an adjustment. It's one thing to get rid of all this for two weeks, and another to realize it's going to be my new life ... but, my hand was forced and this is what I'm all about from, I guess, now on. ... Now, we've addressed that.
I'm no insider anymore with the Redskins. I haven't talked to Dan Snyder in months, though I need to thank him and Mrs. Snyder for the incredible flower arrangement they sent me when I got out of the hospital last week. ... I don't know that this time will be different. I'm not going to promise you that -- anybody who does is a fraud. ... I like Jim Zorn. He played when I was covering the NFL and I liked him. ... He's smart, as prepared as a really good quarterback has to be (and he was that) ... he's said by other coaches to be a terrific teacher, especially at the quarterback position which should help Jason Campbell. ... Anyway, who knows. Snyder has hired people everybody thought would lead the Redskins to the Promised Land and didn't. So, the best anybody with any credibility can say is, "we'll see." I'm not going to rip the hiring of Zorn, and I'm not going to praise it to the High Heavens either ... let's see.
Chicago: Be well, Michael. Should/can the Bulls trade Ben Wallace for Kirilenko?
Michael Wilbon: It doesn't matter what the Bulls do this season. They're done. Getting rid of Wallace's contract might be a good thing, but the Bulls are done. They have no chance this year even if they do make the playoffs, because they'd only finish seventh or eighth and get smeared by the Celtics or Pistons...
Alexandria, Va.: Why the almost furtive announcement of Jim Zorn as the new Redskins coach? While it's clear he wasn't their first or second or third or fourth or whatever choice, if you sound confident about your pick, he gets off to a much better start.
Michael Wilbon: Not necessarily. Snyder was really, really, really confident about his choice of Steve Spurrier as head coach. What did that matter in the beginning or in the end? It didn't.
Washington: The Pro Bowl did a 6.9 rating, which is higher than any of last years NBA finals games. Are we on our way to becoming a one-sport country?
Michael Wilbon: We already have become that if you look at ESPN, which has become absolutely a barometer of the nation's sports interest, and which prioritizes pro football above all else. I think the interest came first, then the news/sports media reacted, and now it overcovers the NFL to a preposterous level in my opinion. And that's all of us, networks and newspapers and Web sites ... it's a feeding frenzy. Is there interest? No doubt there is. The NFL is the smartest league out there and understands what it has and sells it accordingly.
Boston: As someone who got nicked in the thigh with a skate and now has two kids playing hockey, I was horrified by Zednik's carotid artery being severed last night in a freak accident. I am not sure it could completely stop what happened last night, but both my kids wear neck guards. The Buffalo emergency response teams have performed amazingly well this year given they have faced two life-threatening injuries (spine injury for the Bills' Everett, and this).
Michael Wilbon: All I can say about this is I'm glad Zednik is said today to be not only stable but improving. ... It was ghastly, what happened, and totally a fluke. ... My God, the trail of blood from the corner boards to the bench ... I'm just glad, and I'm sure I speak for everybody, that the trainers and physicians acted so decisively...
Belleville, Ill.: What are your thoughts on the hype surrounding this year's signing day? Is it just me, or is this really getting out of hand? What kind of pressure is it putting on these kids? How do you effectively evaluate talent at this level anyway? It's hard enough for the NFL to evaluate talent on a couple of hundred teams.
Michael Wilbon: It's always out of hand. It's always over the top. And this is a media issue. Television, primarily ESPN, and newspapers -- and USA Today is more guilty than anybody else because it's a national newspaper -- are in my opinion creating an unhealthy atmosphere where these kids believe their self-worth is tied up in who recruits them and how heavily they're recruited. I hate it. I can't say it loudly enough. I find it disturbing. I won't talk about high school kids in those terms and I just ... my blood pressure will go through the roof if I continue on this subject. What's the point of it? Where's the news value? I despise it.
Nokesville, Va.: A lot of people were questioning whether or not Gary Williams still had "it" after losing to American and Ohio. In the past few weeks the Terps have been playing extremely well. For a guy who rarely recruits the blue chips and instead builds players, where do you rank him among the current coaches in the college ranks?
Michael Wilbon: I don't know that anything is served by ranking coaches ... but Gary Williams is one of the few active coaches to have won an NCAA Championship. He's the only one at Maryland, last I checked, to win it all. ... He's had a couple of down seasons ... show me a coach, including Coach K., who hasn't. ... The Terrapins aren't in the tournament just yet ... they've got eight losses. They need more than a good stretch. They need a good finish, and I think they're capable
What I don't ever want to hear is Gary Williams being ripped by short-sighted Maryland fans, as happened a few years ago, because he saved the school's basketball program. ... He answered the call of his alma mater when it was down and desperate, and lifted it all the way to a place it had never been before: The Final Four and then a national championship. ... Nobody's going to make the case that Maryland's program is better than Duke's or North Carolina's, but it would seem to me Maryland has a pretty darned good coach for its specific situation.
Washington: Hey Mike, hope you are well and stay that way. Do you think this year's playoffs will a big litmus test for where the NBA really is in terms of popularity? The Lakers and Celtics are extremely relevant again. The West is so loaded with good teams that every series should be good. And the East has Boston, Detroit and Lebron's Cavs for starters. If this year's playoff ratings don't go up, or if they somehow decline again, how much panic should there be in David Stern's office?
Michael Wilbon: Great, great question. I tend to believe in your premise. The NBA needs a bounce this year in the TV playoff ratings, and one would suspect people will tune in to watch the Lakers/Suns/Celtics more than they did certain series last post-season. But ...suppose it's Pistons vs. Spurs again? I'll watch. I love watching the Spurs and admire the way the Pistons play at a championship level without a true superstar ... but the average sports fan who might like basketball ain't tuning in to watch that ... even the players on the Spurs and Pistons know that
So, what would get the best TV number? A Suns-Lakers Western Conference Final (Shaq vs. Kobe with Steve Nash co-starring) followed by a Lakers-Celtics final would ... and Suns vs. Celtics would be a very, very, very close runner-up. But none of those matchups are a given, especially with the Western Conference being 10-deep in quality playoff teams. Think about this: The Houston Rockets are tied for the eighth and final playoff spot in the west with a record of 30-20 ... the Bulls, in the East, are one-game out of the No. 8 spot with a record of 20-30...
NCAA Baby: Mike -- glad you are back! Can you give us for Final Four prediction? Thanks.
Michael Wilbon: Goodness, it's too early for Final Four predictions ... I'm interested in seeing the conference races, the bubble teams that will play desperately for the next few weeks. ... This is really the time when college hoops grabs me ... mid-February. ... We've gotten rid of pro football (well, I have) and the NBA is going to take this little slumber (except the Suns, who will put Shaq on the floor either Wednesday or Thursday). ... I love the jockeying, not the predicting, so I'll leave that early predictions to people who bracket and choose mock tournament fields ... I'm just going to spin around the dial every night, starting tonight with Big Monday, and enjoy every game I can between now and the Final Four...
We've got a bulletin that's going to cause me to have to depart our chat a little early. Rick Pitino is willing to be the "PTI" guest today, but has to do it at 2:20 p.m. before he begins practice, so I've got to run into makeup and up to the studio to accommodate Rick, who's always a great guest for us. ... Thanks everybody ... back Monday at the usual time ... have a great week, and thanks for all the well-wishes...
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