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The Chat House
Sports News

Michael Wilbon
Washington Post Sports Columnist
Monday, February 25, 2008 1:15 PM

Welcome to another edition of The Chat House where Post columnist Michael Wilbon was online Monday, Feb. 25 at 1:15 p.m. ET to take your questions and comments about the latest sports news and his recent columns.

The transcript follows.

Discussion Archive

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Rockville, Md.: In light of Tiger's dominance over the weekend, do you have a revised prediction about his number of majors (and overall tournament wins) in 2008?

Michael Wilbon: Yes, how about all four of them? Okay, you can't be sane and predict that, but he's making us think he can, right?

Hi everybody. Good to be back in D.C. I spent just three days here since Jan. 26. and since it's 50 degrees and no wintry mix today I seem to have come back at about the right time since I couldn't stay in Arizona until the end of March.

I'm happy to begin with Tiger because he's now won eight of his last nine worldwide events with a T-2 thrown in at the only event he didn't win...Amazing.

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Silver Spring, Md.: The trades just keep on coming in the NBA this season! Aside from the Celtics trading for KG/Ray Allen, how would you rank the other 4-5 big name trades, in order?

Michael Wilbon: Celtics, Suns (though you can't see it yet), Lakers, Cavaliers, Mavericks...I'm one of the few people who likes the Cavaliers deal...But I really like it. I think that deal can help Cleveland get past the Pistons and into the Eastern Conference finals again, though I must admit Detroit played the kind of game yesterday in Phoenix that can make you reevaluate everything you're thinking. The only reason I'm putting the Suns deal for Shaq ahead of the Lakers' deal for Gasol is I think the Lakers were already good enough to get to the conference finals with young Andrew Bynum back in the lineup...Don't get me wrong, they're better with Gasol (9-1 since he showed up) but they were really good already and might have won the West...With Shaq, despite the blowout loss to Detroit yesterday, the Suns feel totally different about themselves and what they're capable of. In regard to the Cavaliers, I just think LeBron now has 4 big-time shooters to find and he'll find 'em.

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20009: Hey Mr. Wilbon,

Lots of rumors about the NBA expanding into Europe--would it be good for the game or would another five teams diminish the talent pool, that's expanded as a result of more international players?

Michael Wilbon: You can't have five additional teams in the NBA. That dilutes the talent pool dramatically. The NBA has to figure that out...I know some proponents of contracting a couple of teams, which would really amount to reconfiguration...I'd like to see it...You look at the evolving nature of the league and how many international players there are, especially European players and it seems like a natural to me. The NBA's growth isn't going to come from the U.S.; it's going to come from overseas...Europe, Asia, South America and increasingly Africa.

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Miami, Fla.: With all the NBA trades happening, this sounds obvious, but the biggest move of all was not moving Kobe Bryant.

Michael Wilbon: Ah, yes. I think Danny Ainge has some competition for Executive of the Year from the Lakers' Mitch Kupchack, who not only kept Kobe, but dumped Kwame Brown and got Pau Gasol...and gets credit for drafting Andrew Bynum and holding onto him...Big ups to Mitch Kupchack who had to endure a lot of junk last spring, including hearing those interviews with Dan Patrick and Stephen A. Smith saying he wanted to be traded...

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Nicklaus/Woods: As a young golfer I idealized Jack and when Tiger appeared on the scene, I recognized his greatness but thought that it would be many years before a serious discussion of who was better could be had.

Well, Tiger doesn't have as many majors as Jack yet, but I'm ready to sign off on the greatest of all time designation. Jack never dominated like this....never.

Michael Wilbon: No, Jack didn't...It's crazy what Tiger's doing now. It's a little bit Jack, a little bit Joe Louis, a little bit Michael Jordan, a little bit Babe Ruth, a little bit Muhammad Ali...And, to me, it's harder to win a golf tournament than do anything else in sports...okay, maybe win an auto race...But in racing you get help. Not in golf...There's no drafting there...no "push from Heaven" to get you past a competitor in the final lap. Tiger Woods is now in a place very, very, very few athletes have ever gone, and it's wonderful to watch. I hate to miss a stroke when he's playing...

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Reston, Va.: Did the Wizards make a mistake not doing something at the trade deadline? Something has to be done to make this team better, even if it means moving Antawn Jamison, right?

Michael Wilbon: I truly don't know...I'm not ducking it...I just don't know. Antawn is the most reliable player this season when it comes to performance and health. I thought the Wizards could sneak through a round or two of the playoffs this year, but not with the best players out once again...It's a shame, too, because Boston, Detroit and Cleveland are waiting to be joined by a 4th team in the East and the Wizards should be up there battling with Toronto and Orlando but they're not, and injuries again have wrecked the season.

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Utah Jazz: When Stockton and Malone retired, I thought this franchise would be left for dead. What free agent would want to sign there? How could they keep new players?

But Deron Williams is an apt replacement for Stockton and Okur and Boozer are big time players in my opinion.

Who would have thought Kyle Korver would be the missing piece of the puzzle?

Michael Wilbon: Nobody...You make a great point and thanks for doing so. Jerry Sloan knows what he's doing and Utah's scouts are amazing, knowing they have to find a certain kind of player to work with Sloan, and knowing how to find underrated free agents who don't mind coming to Utah. They make fabulously smart trades and pickups...I think they must have among the best scouts in the league.

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Annandale, Va.: Michael, thanks for doing these chats. I hope you are feeling well and sticking to your new diet and exercise program.

Did you watch the Riviera Tournament? Phil looked in great shape and ready to challenge Tiger this year. If not Phil is there anyone else out there who can?

Do you think that Vijay's best days are behind him now? He really choked bad at the tournament two weeks ago.

Michael Wilbon: I don't know that anybody will challenge Tiger this year...I wonder even about Phil, who is trimmer and fitter than at any time in his career. I had a long conversation with Phil the other night in Phoenix at the Suns game and he looks fabulous. He's ripped. I'm serious. He spent all winter getting in the best shape of his life but it might not matter, in terms of challenging Tiger. Phil and I used to talk about being the same size (240 pounds and sometimes up to 250) and now I'm down to 216 (today) and Phil looks to be about 210, 212...He's packed more muscle on than I have...But yes, I'm sticking with my...I don't want to call it a diet because it's the way I have to eat from now on...I haven't had McDonald's in a month, which is a record...no Wendy's, Burger King, Jack In The Box, Popeyes, none of it. No Dunkin Donuts...well, I did have one donut for the purpose of finding out what it would do specifically to my blood sugar level. OH MY GOD! shot it up from about 130 to 281...So no donuts. I was seen driving through an In-and-Out Burger Drive through in North Scottsdale at about 12:40 a.m. Saturday, but that was for my brother Don who insisted on torturing me...I got NOTHING, not even a single french fry...Went home and had roasted turkey on rye. HA! You have to understand, this is a revelation for me...Thing I've got to regulate is my schedule during the NBA playoffs, which is going to be difficult...more than you wanted to know, but thanks for asking.

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Rashad from D.C.: In this morning's Sports section, there was a brief listing of the best college players ever to play in this area, and David Robinson was listed No. 1. Do you agree, and if not, who was the best area college player you ever saw?

Michael Wilbon: I don't know that I want to rank them on a moment's notice, but I've seen everybody who passed through here since 1980...so I'm going with Ralph Sampson, Patrick Ewing, David Robinson, Len Bias, Buck Williams, Alonzo Mourning, Reggie Williams, Allen Iverson, Juan Dixon, Charles Smith, Othell Wilson, Adrian Branch, Joe Smith...God, I'm leaving out people, I know...But that's my list off the top of my head...Somebody hit me right back and tell me who I've forgot...And no, I didn't forget Albert King; I wasn't here yet when Albert played...He and I are the same age and I loved him as a college player...

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Arlington, Va.: How would the NBA explain to a 19-year-old, most likely from the inner city, that he will be playing for his first team in Berlin. I just don't see this happening.

Michael Wilbon: Here's how you explain it: You will be making, on average, about $1.8 million dollars. Here's your plane ticket, son. Go to work.

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New Orleans: Yes or No: Chris Paul is this year's MVP?

Michael Wilbon: If the Hornets finish the regular season with the best record in the Western Conference, which is very unlikely, then yes, I think he's the MVP...But I think KG, LeBron and Kobe are either slightly ahead of him or right there shoulder to shoulder. Chris Paul is a great player...Not good, great. To take that team and have them running side by side with the Lakers, Suns, Spurs, Mavericks...that's impressive. AND, he's a nice young man, as people used to say. I met him when he was a senior in high school and got to know him over the past six or seven years...he's just a pleasure to be around.

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Fairfax, Va.: Mike,

Glad to hear that you have been doing well with your lifestyle changes. I hope you're also throwing in some weightlifting time (key to having a higher metabolism and burning fat).

My question for you is on Kelvin Sampson. What kind of NCAA sanctions do you expect Indiana to receive? I feel their administration should be held accountable for hiring Sampson given the NCAA investigation that was underway a few years back.

Michael Wilbon: Can't lift any weights for 6 to 8 weeks after a heart attack...spikes your heart rate, I'm told...As for IU, the school's administrators -- the president who hired Sampson is now gone -- knew Sampson had done this. The NCAA had to have reminded the IU folks of this...Lack of institutional control is sure to be the major sticking point. If you hire a guy who's been put, essentially, on probation for a specific kind of cheating and he comes to your place, fully warned, and does the EXACT SAME THING on your watch, you ought to get popped. IU ought to get popped. They knew what they were getting into and went there anyway...No sympathy for the school's administrators or Sampson, who is smart enough to know better...and did nonetheless.

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Washington, D.C.: If Phoenix does not win the championship this year, how do you see Shaq holding up in a full 82-game season with them next year?

Michael Wilbon: Full 82 games? No...Nope. I don't think Shaq has ever played a full 82...I'm not being critical of him for that. We don't know what goes in a body that outsized...He's not some 6-5 guard, or even a 6-10, 250-pound guy like Karl Malone, who was indestructible...

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Clinton, Md.: Good afternoon Mike,

I watched the Klitschko/Ibrgimov boxing match and it could only be called boxing because both contenders wore gloves. It confirms the truth, that there's not even a decent, average fighter in the heavyweight division. I felt sorry for Emanuel Stewart. He had to beg Klitschko to throw a right hand when his opponent was dropping his guard and holding his chin out! Apparently Klitschko is incapable of throwing a simple one/two combination.

Michael Wilbon: You said it, and said it well.

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Atlanta: Michael..stay in good health! A big Terps and Gary Williams fan, but the last five years, the Terps are 7-9, 7-9, 8-8, 10-6 and now 7-6 in the ACC, a combined 39-38. This is not just a "down" year, but 80 games of so-so play-with less than a stellar team academic record. The talk during these years is not how far the Terps go in the big dance, but simply can they make it. Gary has really failed to follow up with his National Championship. Is this a recruiting problem? Is it now time for Gary to go?

Michael Wilbon: This would take a dissertation, for which we don't have time. It's absolutely not time for Gary to go...You raise very legitimate points, every one of them. But let me ask you this: do you expect Maryland basketball to be Duke or North Carolina or UCLA? Cause it ain't. And it ain't going to be...Gary's recruiting can be questioned, yes. But the notion that Maryland is an automatic tournament team is a little arrogant, I think. 99 percent of Division I schools don't just ride a wave for years. A very few do, the Dukes and UNCs...But look at how many schools are in and out, in and out...That national championship wasn't a door opening to two or three more in the next five yeas. Why would anybody think that? When exactly does that happen. How many has Kansas won since winning in 1988? Yep, none. UCLA has won one, the same number as Maryland, since 1995. I know, I know, you're not saying Gary has to win but you want him in the Big Action. That's hard, too. Where's UNLV? Where's DePaul? There are programs that were great that disappeared because it's hard to keep them up there...Don't take for granted what Gary Williams has built and that being "on the bubble" is better than being 0-fer. My school, Northwestern, has NEVER been to the NCAA Tournament. Never.

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Maryland: Thoughts on Rexy re-upping with the Bears? Guess this really puts the McNabb rumors to bed for good, no?

Michael Wilbon: I hate hearing this...If the Bears commit to Rex as their starting QB they're not serious about winning. Or they think they're serious and they're just not very bright in the front office.

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New York, N.Y.: To the person who can't see 19-year-olds from the inner city going to Europe: Where do you think the talented college players who don't get drafted go? They go to Europe, South America, etc., to make far less money than the NBA pays. That's a lame argument against going abroad.

Michael Wilbon: Thank you.

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Boston: Separate from his physical abilities (size, strength, flexibility, hand-eye coordination) is there a good analysis out there about how Tiger is able to concentrate consistently at such a high level over an extended period of time, including high stress end of tournament time? I'll bet you he has some major league mental (physical?) fatigue the day or two after a tournament, particularly the majors. I'm guessing that is why he is pretty selective on the number of tourneys he enters.

Michael Wilbon: Great point you make...He does talk about how utterly spent he is after certain tournaments...I would think the Match Play is one of them...I think others are equally spent, but his powers of concentration do seem to be just beyond his peers, which sounds crazy but I don't believe it's just physical talent, though he's probably No. 1 there.

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Baltimore: Have you had a chance to talk with Tiger at all recently? I was just curious as to his mindset. This year, he just has this...I don't know...LOOK to him like, he knows he's the best, you know he's the best, and he knows that you know he's the best.

Really, at 32, seemingly well-adjusted to his new life (marriage, fatherhood, life without his dad), isn't this the best chance we'll have of seeing a Grand Slam?

Michael Wilbon: I think you just nailed it...I haven't talked to him this season...not in a few months, actually, other than a hello...And what you described is my exact sense of how he feels. If I understand correctly, he likes his swing better now than in 2000, when he won 3 majors, and is putting just as well. That spells doom for the field, and he knows it and they know it...He's just in another place, loving his life, personally and professionally...How cool is that?

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Richmond, Va.: I am watching the HBO show about Joe Louis. A simply fantastic show. Who in your opinion is the most important black athlete in sports, Joe Louis, Jesse Owens or Jackie Robinson?

Michael Wilbon: We'll end on this...I tend to flip-flop here...Some days I think Jackie Robinson. Some days I think Jack Johnson. Some days I think Joe Louis...I was flying cross country during the initial airing of that HBO documentary, which I hear is fabulous...I can't wait to watch it...tonight even, if it's showing again...

Okay, I've gotta run and prepare for PTI...It's good to be back here in D.C. and I'll be here on Mondays for awhile, as far as I know...See you next week. MW

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