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The Chat House

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Michael Wilbon
Washington Post Sports Columnist
Monday, April 14, 2008; 1:15 PM

Welcome to another edition of The Chat House where Post columnist Michael Wilbon was online Monday, April 14 at 1:15 p.m. ET to take your questions and comments about the latest sports news and his recent columns.

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The transcript follows.

Discussion Archive

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washingtonpost.com: Michael will begin answering questions around 1:30.

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Arlington, Va.: I totally understand that Tiger is likely to be the single greatest golfer in history by the time he is done, he is already close to it and has so much time left. I completely understand that he draws viewers and people care about him WAY more than any other golfers. I understand all of this.

But when reports about the Masters are "Tiger Woods trails by 5 after 3rd Round" I have to ask if the sports media has just gone too far. Uh, maybe, just maybe, you should be reporting on the guy in first?

I know I'm spitting in the wind here, but it just seemed pretty unfair to all the competitors to reduce it to Tiger and no one else matters.

Nice win by Immelman. Or should I say "Tiger finishes 3 back of someone at the Masters."

Michael Wilbon: I'm TOTALLY with you on this. Look, I love Tiger, too. Love him. I play golf because of Tiger...well, largely. My obsession with golf dates back to April of 1997 when he won The Masters; before that, I merely liked golf. But, yes, our reporting on these things is so over-the-top. It's not just Tiger, though, it's almost everything...

Hi everybody...(Ooops, should have said that first). Just coming from a good morning at the pediatrician's office with Matthew...We'll chat about the Capitals, the Wizards, the NBA, some baseball...

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Houston: Wilbon, love to hear your input on the Eastern Conference playoff showdown's that's soon to be.

You think the Wiz have any chance of getting by the Cavs this year? And if so, the possibility of the Wiz maybe running into Boston for the Eastern conference Championship and the Wiz beating them 3 out of 4 this year?

Michael Wilbon: Yes, I think the Capitals can beat Cleveland in a first-round series...Absolutely, I think that can happen...Only if Caron Butler is healthy and playing 40 minutes, though...And it seems he'll be fine from this latest injury (knee bruise). I don't think the Wizards, despite beating Boston 3 of 4 this regular season, can beat the Celtics in a 7-game series...I DO think the Wizards would give Detroit a pretty good run in a series, but it won't set up that way with the seeding...Still, most people disagree with me and think that LeBron, now that he's been called "overrated" by DeShaun Stevenson and called out by Gilbert Arenas, will just kill the Wizards all by himself...Best first-round series in the East by 100 miles...I can't wait to see it.

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Bradford, Va. : I keep telling my friends that I've been a Caps fan all year and they don't believe me. Why can't people like a successful team without being called "bandwagon."

Michael Wilbon: Because there were so few of you when the season began, especially Thanksgiving weekend when the coach was fired and the team looked DEAD! But hey, I got your back...If you say you were there from the beginning, who am I to doubt you. AND, I'll say to your buddies right now: "SHUT UP! Get off my man in Bradford!"

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Dulles Airport: Yesterday you said that you were leaning heavily towards voting for Kobe Bryant for MVP. What changed your mind?

Michael Wilbon: The last week. Chris Paul had three chances to win the Western Conference and he and New Orleans couldn't do it...I know, it's splitting hairs, yes. But that's what you do when it's a three-horse race (Paul, Kobe, Kevin Garnet) and it's the tightest race ever. But yes, Kobe led his team to the No. 1 spot in the greatest conference race the league has ever seen, so I'm going to vote for Kobe, KG and C. Paul, probably in that order...BUT my ballot isn't due until Thursday morning, so I've got time for a switcheroo...but I don't think I'll need it.

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Texas: ESPN The Magazine had a great article about Greg Maddux in the last edition. Do you think that he is going to surpass Roger Clemens in most people's minds as the best pitcher of his generation?

Michael Wilbon: Yes, yes, and yes. The steroid taint on Clemens, to me, will change the perception...Now, Tony is saying the power pitcher, in this case Clemens, is always better remembered. Normally, I'd agree with that, but the steroid taint changes it for me and, I think, for a lot of people.

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Reston, Va.: Re: The Caps Bandwaggon.

I think folks have wanted to really like the Caps since the firesale a few years ago, but didn't want to re-embrace the team until it delivered something other than promises of what it can deliver in one or two seasons.

Now that fans see the payoff, they're turning out.

And there's plenty of bandwaggon fans, too. But I tend to think there was some holding back, and that folks misinterpreted that over the past couple of years as 'lack of interest'.

Michael Wilbon: Thank you for expressing that very rational viewpoint.

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Bethel Park, Pa.: Which is more likely? Ovechkin skates around with Lord Stanley's cup or the Dalai Lama marches in the opening ceremonies in Beijing?

Got any odds for either? Thanks.

Michael Wilbon: Nice question...no odds here...but thanks.

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Larusso, Mass.: Please, don't let anymore athletes do Gillette commercials. Since their commercial, Federer, T. Henry and Tiger have all been sub-par in their respective sports. Actually, scratch that. Let's see if we can convince LeBron to do a Gillette commercial.

Michael Wilbon: Tiger has been subpar since the commercial? Really. Three wins in five tournaments this year? What's par for your course?

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Chapel Hill, N.C.: Okay, it's 17 years later and Matthew is trying to choose a school. He has a lot of talent, and there is possibly a future for him in pro basketball. Where do you send him, assuming all of today's coaches are still going strong?

Roy

P.S. -- Congrats on the boy. Your life has just begun.

Michael Wilbon: Thank you very, very much. Well, if he was REALLY REALLY good (and about 6-5, 200 pounds, which he could be since he weighed 11 pounds, 1 ounce at the pediatrician today, at 23 inches)...Duke or Virginia (his mother's two alma maters)...I think Stanford is the best combination of athletics and sports in America. But it depends on who was recruiting him...I'd want him to leave home (so Virginia might be out of play, too)...But I doubt he'll be great at any one things because I plan to make him familiar with a bunch of things, seasonally...I want him to know baseball thoroughly, to know basketball, to know golf, to know (but not play) football...My father made sure I participated in everything (hockey was easy to get into during long Chicago winters, and I played until 15)...But it's probably every dad's dream that his son is great in one thing that he could play in college. I can't turn into Marv Marinovich, though...That ain't good. My brother's son, Jordan, is 7 and the stuff he knows about every sport is insane...And he plays four sports already...Hope I can be so fortunate...

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Rockville, Md.: Michael,

To you, how serious is an analyst on NBC twice calling the Caps the "Craps" during a national broadcast? Doesn't he owe everyone an on-air apology?

Michael Wilbon: Was it a slip of the tongue? What was the context? If it was a slip of the tongue, you can't want to go after him can you?

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California, Md.: Will Stevenson have Soulja Boy at courtside at the Verizon Center when the Cavs and Wizards meet in the playoffs?

Michael Wilbon: Might need him to guard LeBron, right?

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ELLAY, CA: The Lakers played some really good defense yesterday. Being a fan it was exciting to see but I don't trust them right now defensively. Sure they will play great against San Antonio but will allow a team like Sacramento to score at will driving the ball into the lane. One good defensive game doesn't mean you have turned the corner. Honestly, how do you see them faring in the playoffs?

Also, do you think the Celtics are glad they aren't playing the Wizards in the first round?

Michael Wilbon: I have the same questions about the Lakers' defense that you seem to have. Jon Barry has been talking about this for weeks, wondering if the Lakers can play good enough defense to avoid a 7-game first-round series or beat the Spurs or Suns in the second round. I think Denver can score like crazy on the Lakers (first-round matchup) but the Nuggets don't even ATTEMPT to play defense. Anyway, I think it's a legit issue you bring up and the reason I can't make the Lakers THE favorite in the West, even though they will finish the season with the No. 1 seed.

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Bridgewater, Va.: Gil is not talking to the press but he is blogging like heck. Have you read it? The man can put words to paper like few athletes.

Michael Wilbon: He's great at it...And he's never not talking for long...I suspect he's talking, just not "on the record"...Shhhh...don't tell anybody I said that. And yes, I read Gilbert's blog...Professional courtesy.

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Poor Matthew: He's probably going to want to be an artist or something, and we've already lined him up for a pro sports career.

Michael Wilbon: Yeah, believe me, I've thought quite a bit about that. His mama has no artistic instincts, trust me (sorry, Sheryl)...I was a childhood and teenage musician (seriously) so there's a little something to drawn on...I certainly wouldn't worry if he had interests that ran in that direction as opposed to sports.

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KG should be MVP: Kevin Garnett took the Celtics who were a perennial lottery team, and made them the best team over the course of the season.

I know leadership and defensive abilities are out of touch with the highlight slam-dunk world we live in, but shouldn't KG be this year's MVP?

Michael Wilbon: Yes, it could be. I have no argument against Kevin Garnett. None. Tony says he'd vote for KG, and I agree with everything you said about his season...But the Lakers were 7th last year in the West and the Hornets were in the lottery...so Kobe and C. Paul have the same kinds of things going for them. It's not an easy choice. In fact, it's very, very difficult.

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Washington, D.C.: Do you think the Wizards have been lucky against the Celtics, or is it another Dallas/Golden State situation, where an inferior team somehow instinctually "knows" how to beat the better one?

Michael Wilbon: Great, great question...I suspected last year, going into the series, that the Warriors were going to take Dallas deep and make it a 6 or 7-game series...I don't know that I feel that way about the Wizards chances against the Celtics...Maybe we'll find out in the second round, which I suspect they'll both meet.

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Waldorf, Md.: Is Phil still trying to play his way out of his post U.S. Open funk from a couple years ago? I haven't seen him get close to a major since, although his play for 3/4 of The Masters was encouraging.

Michael Wilbon: I thought he played well enough at Augusta to free himself from that U.S. Open curse. Until that double-bogey on 12, I thought Phil had a chance to finish second or third...I think the U.S. Open might be the place (with it being played at Torrey Pines in his home of San Diego) will help him shake totally loose from that.

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D.C.: Hey Mike, hope little Matthew is doing well.

Did you hear/read Shaq's latest quote about his new nickname the Big Cactus? Shaq is great with the media, almost as good as Barkley. What are the chances we can see both Shaq and Barkley together on an NBA pregame show when Shaq retires? I know you are friends with Charles, but I don't know how well you know Shaq. Do you think that the two of them would be as fun to watch together as they are alone? Thanks for your time.

Michael Wilbon: Good question. Shaq's been using "Big Cactus" since he arrived in Phoenix just before the All-Star break. And he is great for the media...I know Shaq pretty well...not as well as I know Charles, of course, but pretty well...And Shaq, right now, is probably a little annoyed that Charles doesn't think the Suns are much of a threat to win this season. But the two of them together on TV? There's no straight man...unless you're asking me to sit in the middle and be the butt of many jokes.

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SU: Are you gonna be covering the Wizards when they take on and eventually destroy the Cavs in 5 games?

There's gonna be some good smack talk between Deshawn and Lebron, anything else you may be looking forward to in this matchup?

Michael Wilbon: I have some big (and enjoyable) double-duty to pull during the playoffs. My ESPN/ABC duties will take me west, for obvious reasons. And I'm dying to write columns on Wizards-Cavaliers for The Post...This, for an NBA playoff junkie, is nirvana...I can't wait.

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Clarksburg, Md.: Right on for your rant about The Nats being our team and The O's should be an after thought. I root for everything Washington.

Michael Wilbon: The O's are not our team; they belong to Baltimore. Like the Ravens belong to Baltimore. The Nationals, like 'em or not, belong to D.C. This is simple. When D.C. didn't have a baseball team it was okay, I guess, to root for the Orioles, although I thought it was kinda weak. But I don't want to hear of the Orioles now. I think they're over covered in this market by us and by the local TV stations. I know this is one mega-community and there are people along the eastern edge who are interested in rooting for, reading about and watching the Orioles...But I'm glad we have our own baseball team around here now.

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Most Improved Race: Kobe has been great this season, but wasn't it really the addition of Gasol (21 - 5 since his addition) that pushed the Lakers to the top? I'd give the award to Garnett as he is the reason that Celtics team has dominated. I'm more curious about who your Most Improved player in the NBA is, or is it just so obviously Hedo Turkaglu that we don't even debate it?

Michael Wilbon: Hedo for most improved, no doubt. Doc Rivers and Byron Scott for Coach of the Year, Danny Ainge for Exec. of the Year (over Mitch Kupchak, who did a great job)...But again, I'm not going to argue against KG...not going to happen.

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Boresville, Ga.: Michael-

I'm a huge golf fan, but do we really need two U.S. Opens a year? That Masters was boring -- and not just because Tiger struggled. What are your thoughts on the course changes?

Michael Wilbon: I understand the criticism, that because of the changes to Augusta National, we now don't have the fabulous shot-making on the back-9 that we used to see...the stuff that gave The Masters its own special personality. And it should be different from the U.S. Open...I said this last year, that I didn't want to see two of them...But the winner was 8-under par, which is rarely the case at the U.S. Open...It only played really difficult one day, Sunday.

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Chicago: Mr. Wilbon,

Tiger Woods does not win every time out. How about some love for the guy who beat him?

Michael Wilbon: Dude...Where were you on the first question. We dealt with that a 1:30 eastern.

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New Orleans: Did the Supersonics play their last game in Seattle last night?

Michael Wilbon: Sadly...yes. I hate the notion of Seattle having no professional basketball. I wish the Hornets had moved permanently to Oklahoma City, which I think will support a team fabulously. It could be the Green Bay of the NBA...It's a nice arena (and will be upgraded) and is loud and passionate...And Seattle/King County/Washington State decided to spend nearly a billion (more?) for stadiums for the Seahawks and Mariners, neither one of whom ever won ANYTHING, unlike the Sonics who won a championship in 1979 and got the NBA Finals 3 times in the team's existence...I'm damn sad to see the Sonics go...I love Seattle. It's one of the four or five coolest cities in America, for me. To not be there, I think, is a huge loss for the NBA.

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Washington, D.C.: Now that he's stepped down, what was your opinion of Bryant Gumbel's play-by-play work at the NFL Network?

Michael Wilbon: I don't care about Bryant's work for the NFL Network. I'm not about to, for even a second, define his career by something that lasted one second, relatively. Bryant Gumbel was an inspiration to me as a teenager, seeing as he grew up on the South Side of Chicago and went to a rival Catholic High School (De La Salle)...I wanted to be like Bryant. I admire him, respect him...stand in awe of his total body of work, from KNBC to NBC to HBO...we can go even further back to, I think it was, "Black Sports Magazine" which he edited probably in the mid-1970s...Anyway, I know Bryant had his detractors when it came to his work on the NFL network...I'm not one of them and won't pretend to be.

Okay, gotta prepare for today's PTI and our guest, Kobe Bean Bryant...the presumptive MVP...

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Editor's Note: washingtonpost.com moderators retain editorial control over Discussions and choose the most relevant questions for guests and hosts; guests and hosts can decline to answer questions. washingtonpost.com is not responsible for any content posted by third parties.


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