The Chat House with Michael Wilbon: NBA and NHL playoffs, Redskins, more

Michael Wilbon
Washington Post Sports Columnist
Monday, April 26, 2010; 2:00 PM

Welcome to another edition of The Chat House, where Post columnist Michael Wilbon was online Monday, April 26 at 2 p.m. to discuss the beginnings of the NBA and NHL playoffs, the Redskins, World Wide Wilbon (which is Not Just Another Sorry, No-Account Sports Blog), the latest sports news, his columns and anything else on your mind.

A transcript follows

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Washington, D.C.: Unless the Thunder can defeat the Lakers, this will be another ho-hum, way too long, opening round of the NBA playoffs. For my money all the action is in the NHL, where 1's beat 8's and the pacing is much better.

Michael Wilbon: Hi Everybody ... sorry we're starting late but I'm just getting back home to D.C. after last night's storms in the area cancelled so many flights, including mine from I had to fly this morning...Anyway, the NHL playoffs are GREAT! The pacing is great, the games are so damn thrilling, almost all of them. But why do you have to pit one against the other. You think the Spurs-mavericks series isn't any good? Utah-Denver? I'm completely engrossed in both the NHL and NBA playoffs, and love them both. I'm immersed in the Blackhawks-Predators series, being a Chicagoan ... and the Capitals-Montreal series...I've watched a little of almost every first-round series, except Devils-Flyers which I just didn't care about...I find them both must-see TV, as opposed to the NFL draft or April baseball, which I simply won't watch, so sorry, I can't discuss the Natinoals with any depth because I haven't watched a MLB game yet, not one...and won't until the NHL and NBA are done...Going back to the NBA part of the question, you don't think Brandon Roy coming back from knee surgery after 8 days to help his team beat the Suns isn't exciting?


Charlestown, Mass.: Is Oklahoma City were to topple the Lakers, where does this rank on the list of all-time NBA playoffs upsets?

Michael Wilbon: I was in Bristol yesterday and ran into Tim Kurkjian, ESPN's fabulous baseball reporter, and what people don't generally know is that Tim is a GREAT basketball player...He and Cal Ripken, 20 years ago, could probably have beaten any two amateurs in America in two-on-two. Kurkjian's ballhandling as a young man was insane. Anyway, Tim knows is hoops and he said to me, "If Oklahoma City wins this series, isn't it the greatest upset of all time?" I hadn't thought about it at that point, but maybe it is. Tony K is sitting nearby and he's seen about 50 years of playoff basketball and he says he thinks that would be an overstatement because Ok City won 50 games this year and finished only, what, seven games behind the Lakers in the standings? So, maybe it's not the biggest upset ever but it's seismic in terms of the impact and shock value.


Capitals: I disagreed with your assertion back in February that Ovechkin needed a wake up call. But now as a caps fan since the 80's (when we were just happy to make the playoffs) watching the series from afar, the capitals seem like a team of moping, prima donna, headcases expecting to win the cup on their "greatness" alone. I think Boudreau needs to stop coddling his stars and rather have it out with them, starting with Ovechkin. A attitude adjustment is needed here.

Michael Wilbon: Wow. You've gone a lot further than I did. Man. Now, let me defend Boudreay to this extent; he seems to take on his guys. He'll bench people, call them out publicly. Clearly you think he needs to go further in this regard ... I haven't been in the Capitals dressing room and spent the kind of time this year necessary to have any real sense of the personality traits you suggest...But I wonder if others feel this way, too. Intersting observation. I do feel this (and any evidence I have is anecdotal): the great, great majority of fans of the Capitals here are fawning to the point where they don't want to engage in any observation that isn't the most extreme form of praise of the Capitals. If you say, "Their power play stunk last night" fans want to attack you for not knowing anything about hockey, when what that suggests is a naievete, perhaps ... But this will be interesting to follow and see what others think.


Alexandria, Va.: Would Kevin Durant be this successful if Portland did take him number 1 or is it that he just fits better with OKC and the players that were built around him?

Michael Wilbon: Great question ... I think Portland had enough shooters and all-court players. They had scorers in Brandon Roy and LeMarcus Aldridge, plus guys like Rudy Fernandez. They needed a big man, plain and simply. Oklahoma City needed something completely different, so the 1-2 in that draft worked well, except for the portion where Greg Oden can't stay healthy for 40 straight games. Remember, though, Portland is 2-2 in its first round series and finished ahead of Oklahoma City in the regular season...Everybody says now "I would have taken Durant" but they're lying. The promise of a dominant big man who can shut down the paint is irresistible ... Look at Shaq, at Duncan. They went first, not second. Yao Ming. Yes, people err on the side of big, because of guys like them and the impact they have on the game.


Boston: Do you trust the Caps at this point, even if they get out of this series? Why does it seem that some of their stars (I'm looking at you Alexander Semin) can't bring it in the playoffs the way they have in the regular season?

Michael Wilbon: Great question ... The playoffs, in every sport, are different than the regular season. The postseason is much more difficult, much more stressful, requires much greater calm and poise. Peyton Manning is great in the regular season, maybe the greatest QB in the last 20 years ... but not so much in the playoffs. I don't want to cast the Capitals in that light yet, not any of them, because they haven't had enough of a playoff sample. We'll find out soon enough without jumping to conclusions, but this is a totally legit question about any team or players who perform at one level in the regular season, then can't match that in the playoffs. You look at a guy like Robert Horry, who goes the other direction. Guy you'd like to have from Novemeber through April ... guy you'd DIE to have from April through June because his play is 500 percent more impactful ...


Washington, D.C.: Is there any chance Miami keeps Wade after this season? If not, where do you seem him possibly playing next year?

Michael Wilbon: This is a big basketball question, of course, now that Miami is on the verge of going out to the Boston Celtics. Most people in NBA circles think that Wade is very, very inclined to stay in Miami if Pat Riley, president of the Heat, can recruit a big man who can score (Chris Bosh, Amare Stoudemire, Carlos Boozer). But if Miami can't do that...if those guys go elsewhere and Wade is going to be left with the guys you saw on the court vs. Boston ... I could see him leaving. Where? Chicago, his hometown where he has a residence ... New York ... I can't see Los Angeles wanting him, but it's hard to see him going to the second-fiddle Clippers even though they have salary cap room. If you're a Wizards fan, I know what you're thinking: WHAT ABOUT THE WIZARDS? I can't see an A-list guy coming here yet. The test will be whether people want to come here once Ted Leonsis has control of the Wizards, and I think the answer then will be yes. But I would think Pat Riley will be able to get a big guy to keep Wade there and happy ...


Arlington, Va.: You are so right on the over reaction backlash on taking Durant over Oden. Everyone remembers the Jordan/Bowie picks, but usually it is the right move to get the big man. They win championships much more often than swing men, the exceptions helping to prove the rule (Jordan, Kobe, maybe LeBron).

Michael Wilbon: Yeah, if you look at the history of the NBA big men are so important ... BUT, not as much lately. Oh, in my earlier rant I forgot (stupidly) to mention Olajuwon, who won two titles. Anyway, thing thing about Bowie is he wasn't really that kind of dominant big man. Everybody knew he'd be a forward ... But if the draft was held again today and the two were coming out of college 25 of the 32 teams, maybe more, would take Oden.


Burke, VA: Is there anything more certain than the Wizards need for a big skilled post player like Kentucky's DeMarcus Cousins; with Derrick Favors or Greg Monroe as options if he's gone? What about a sign and trade for another lower draft spot? We have specific areas of need that this NBA draft can fill.

Michael Wilbon: You're right ... There are major questions though about Cousins and his attitude. I love Favors. I also love the Johnson kid from Syracuse ... Greg Monroe? I'm not so certain he's going to be a low-post monster in the NBA. Will he be a good player? Yes, I think. But you're dead-on about needs the Wizards have. Suppose they win the draft, then what? John Wall. I'm not so sure. Cousins. Suppose he's Zack Randolph, a 20-10 machine but a guy you have to babysit constantly early in his career. Is he worth it? These are the answers you can only provide when you know who's going to be running and coaching the team day-to-day for the immediate future.


New York, N.Y.: Of the ex-coaches rumored for the Hornets job, Van Gundy, Doug Collins or Avery Johnson, who is the best fit?

Michael Wilbon: Boy, I'd take any of them ... I haven't talked to Doug Collins about this yet. I don't really see him leaving a life he absolutely loves to coach in New Orleans. Coaching in Chicago, a place he loves and once worked, or Philly, where he played, of Phoenix, where he lives...I could see that, but not New Orleans...Avery or Van Gundy, I think, would be a tremendous asset for New Orleans...


Washington, D.C.: Michael,

I agree with you about the Mavs./Spurs series, last nights game had lots of drama and dare I say more than Ovechkin/Crosby match up. What do you think the Mavs. chances are of coming back and winning. The NBA needs more of these types of series.

Go Caps!

Michael Wilbon: By the way, I'd rearrange my travel, work and personal schedule to see Ovechkin-Crosby in the conference finals ... Wow ... But yeah, Spurs-Mavericks is great stuff. I was about the ONLY person who covers basketball who picked the Spurs, and I think there's no way Dallas is going to beat the Spurs three straight games. San Antonio has the two best players in the series--Ginobili and Duncan--and the best coach, so why wouldn't they win. There's no goaltender in basketball that can tilt the series ...


Washington, D.C.: Mike, I know you hate the NFL Draft and I am getting to the same point. Am I the only one tired of people saying what Tim Tebow can't do in the NFL? Aren't these the same people who said Jamarcus Russell would be a great pro qb? How'd that work out?

Michael Wilbon: It's unknowable, drafting players. And your point is my point. Not only that, tell me off the top of your head who the second player chosen in last year's draft was ... I couldn't do it. And I have NO IDEA whether Tebow will be any good.


Westminster, Md.: Is it time for Phil Jackson to comment on the refs again? It's like a rite of spring isn't it? Or do you think David Stern's warning put a stop to that?

Michael Wilbon: I would LOVE it if Phil Jackson defied David Stern's edit and went crazy on the refs ... How great would that be? Phil has money. He can write a check. (No, Jerry Buss wouldn't write it for him).


Playoff Differences: Isn't this one thing Caps fans should be wary of--defense, in most sports, becomes more important in the postseason? Look at the comparative regular season and postseason success of prolific offensive teams (Phoenix Suns, Dallas Mavs, Indianapolis Colts the 18-1 Pats) vs. teams that focused on defense (Detroit Pistons, San Antonio Spurs, NY Giants).

On a Tuesday night in February, it's easier to be overwhelmed by a fast break offense, in Game 5 of the playoffs, less so.

Michael Wilbon: Very, very smart ... thanks for that. And of course, you're right about 90 percent of the time.


Washington, D.C.: What does Jerry Sloan have to do to be named Coach of the Year ? Who do you like Mosley-Mayweather ?

Michael Wilbon: I'd rather see Jerry Sloan, half of my favorite backcourt as a kid (with Norm Van Lier) win the NBA Championship than coach-of-the-year, that usually precedes a coach being fired ... And I think Mayweather, but I'm really torn on that question. I have to reserve the right to change that pick before the fight ...


Washington, D.C.: Mike,

I watched none of the draft either, but I saw Mel Kiper on PTI last week. Did he actually say Myron Rolle would be drafted in the late rounds because he's..too..SMART?!?

Michael Wilbon: This is a raging debate in our office right now, whether NFL executives let Myron Rolle slide because he wants to be a doctor...This could take an entire chat, this discussion. Just as executives overlook talented basketball players who are white, which is a lazy way to look at anything...I cannot believe a white kid who is a Rhodes Scholar would be assessed in such a way. This, to me, is entirely racial...There are certain executives who are more comfortable with a black kid splitting verbs and mangling the language than they are with him being a Rhodes Scholar and not fitting into their neatly packaged notions of what a black football player can be...Sterotyping is a terrible, terrible thing.


Laurel, Md.: Be honest: aren't you more excited about a Suns-Mavs potential series than a Spurs-Blazers one? (Granted, both teams have a lot of work to do.) But Suns-Mavs has 7 games written all over it, not to mention offering a more exciting style of play, and it would ensure that one of these perennial underachievers at least gets a shot to go to the Finals.

Michael Wilbon: Let me tell you what has seven glorious games written all over it: Suns-Spurs. Look it up. Look at the series they've played...going back to Amare Stoudemire averaging about 37 a game against Tim Duncan, Joe Johnson breaking his face in a conference final against the Spurs back when he was with Phoenix, Steve Nash suffering that busted nose, the Amare/Boris Diaw suspension that the NBA blew and cost Phoenix a title, the Tim Duncan three-pointer two years ago when Shaq was on the Suns ... Are you kidding me? There's no two teams that put on a more entertaining show than the Suns and Spurs ...


Baltimore: Enjoying the pieces on the local stars in the playoffs. I know he's not a part of this series, but have you had a chance to track Roger Mason Jr. down? Would love to see him get a shot at a ring (if it can't be G-Hill).

Michael Wilbon: Thank you ... If the Spurs win this series we'll be doing another piece on Roger Mason, who I keep in touch with and have written about in the last two years ... We wanted to do a a half-dozen pieces (give or take one or two) on folks D.C. readers might get into ... so I hope people like it. I know all the people we're attempting to write about, Hill and Juwan Howard (if Portland wins) and Roger Mason and Adrian Dantley better than some others ... But it's fun, I think. Michael Lee and I have had fun reporting these.


Annandale, Va.: Would Pat Riley or Phil jackson consider coming to Wizards with Ted as owner?

Michael Wilbon: This answer is coming from Anthony Kornheiser: "Stop it, please...No, no, no...Ummmmm, no." I hate to say it, but I agree with Mr. Tony.


NBA Upsets: Didn't Mutumbo's Nuggets beat Sean Kemp and the Sonics in seven back in 1993 or so, when the Sonics were the number one seed in the West? Struck me as a pretty huge upset, and a pretty thrilling series...

Michael Wilbon: Yes, but it was a best-of-five series...Golden State's defeat of top-seeded Dallas is the only 8-over-1 result in a seven-game series.


Burke, Va.: As a former Chicagoan from Martin Luther King High School I'm loving the impact of Derrick Rose with the Bulls. Many say Kentucky's John Wall will be just as good. What do you think; should be give up Gil and Blatche to get him?

Is there anything more certain than the Wizards need for a big skilled post player like Kentucky's DeMarcus Cousins; with Derrick Favors or Greg Monroe as options if he's gone? What about a sign and trade for another lower draft spot? We have specific areas of need that this draft can fill.

Michael Wilbon: Good to hear from a Homey! I'd make that deal, even though I'm not a big John Wall guy and don't think he's anywhere near as good as Rose ... Problem is, you can't trade those salaries for rookie who makes $3 million. And I don't think anybody is in love enough to Blatche to think they can trust him...There's just not that feeling about Blatche among scouts around the league...So, no I don't see it ... I could see the Knicks, if they're left at the alter, casting an eye toward Gilbert Arenas ... but I think the Wizards should actively try to trade him and get whatever they can ...


68 instead of 96: Mike, just a wanted to offer my heartfelt thanks for your yeoman's work in blasting the NCAA officials who held their finger to the wind on 96-team expansion. The tremendous blowback they got from you, John Feinstein, Dana O'Neil, who tore the proposal to shreds for, and others undoubtedly had a hand in their not destroying arguably the best post-season in sports. At least not yet.

68 teams does not fundamentally alter the competitive structure of college basketball, as 96 would have done, and for that college basketball fans should be relieved. You will be in my thoughts when I'm watching and enjoying a tournament that still matters next year. Thanks again.

Michael Wilbon: Boy, I don't know that I deserve any credit for that ... really ... But thanks ... I'm certainly glad we're getting probably one more year of a reasonable tournament and not that 96-team monster ... Okay, gotta run to prepare for PTI...We've got a big Monday show to get ready for ... I'm on the way to Los Angeles for Lakers vs. Thunder in Game 5 ... and if the Lakers lose, I'll go to Oklahoma City for Game 6 and what could be the end of the Lakers as we've known them for a few years. So those who are interested can read my dispatches from that series on ... see you all next week ... thanks for chatting.


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