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The Chat House
Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon
Washington Post Sports Columnists

Monday, June 09, 2003; 1:30 p.m ET

It's time to talk sports in The Chat House!

Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon joined you to talk sports. It all happened right here in The Chat House.

The transcript follows:.

Editor's Note: Washingtonpost.com moderators retain editorial control over Live Online discussions and choose the most relevant questions for guests and hosts; guests and hosts can decline to answer questions.

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Editor's Note: Washingtonpost.com moderators retain editorial control over Live Online discussions and choose the most relevant questions for guests and hosts; guests and hosts can decline to answer questions.

Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon: Good afternoon everyone. If you're in DC, aren't you glad it's finally sunny and 80 degrees like it's SUPPOSED to be in June? --Mary

Hi everyone. --Mike


Silver Spring, MD - 20190: Mike - It seems like you hate your current assignment. There's usually a lot more passion and edge in your writing. Has this dreary finals made you lose the will to write or what?

Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon: I don't hate my current assignment. It's not even an assignment. It's at my initiation that I cover the NBA playoffs. But that doesn't mean I turn into a PR agent for the series. So far, the basketball itself has been 80 percent dreadful. And as a columnist, it's my job to point that out, no matter how much I may historically like the action of the NBA playoffs. So if the basketball gets better, I'll write that it's better. If the 2 teams continue to play this poorly, then I'll rip 'em. That's what columnists do. We don't comment on the games we wish were being played or the games we expected to see played. We comment on what's before us and nobody that I know outside of people rooting for the Spurs or Nets makes the case that this is well played basketball through 3 games. --Mike


Terp in Michigan: I see that the hot rumor of the day is that the Caps want to send Jagr to the Rangers for Lindros. Granted, this is a rumor, but if its true, has Leonsis not learned his lesson yet about over-priced, over-hyped talent?

Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon: I think it's a bad trade, even though Jagr has been a major disappointment on a lot of levels. Eric Lindros is no longer a player of impact. He's so far past his prime it's not even funny. He's not a big goal scorer anymore. He's a non-producer. At least Jagr still scores some goals. I mean he's been about 1/2 of what we all thought he'd be. So, I would never make that deal. --Mike


New York, NY: How is it possible for a women's college softball game to get better ratings on ESPN than game one of the Stanley Cup? Is the current state of the NHL really that bad and will American's ever have interest in the sport?

Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon: Americans follow overwhelmingly sports that we invented or popularized. That means pro-football, which only we play. That means baseball, which for the first 60 years only we played. That means pro-basketball, which was invented in Springfield, Mass. We certainly did not invent golf, but what country has produced the best golfers over the last 50 years. I'm thinking Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson, and now, Tiger. So, we have never really embraced hockey. It's Canada's sport. Women's softball is something, apparently, more viewers feel a connection to. I'm surprised too. I grew up in Chicago following the Black Hawks of Bobby Hull. But I live in Washington where if I want to talk about the sport people look at me like I'm a martian. It's weird. --Mike


Kurashiki, Japan: Hi Tony and Mike. I teach English and coach basketball in Japan. I've read all your columns about MJ's firing, including Tony's most recent lament this morning. I just finished The Post Magazine's autopsy of MJ's final season. I know space is short in the chat-house, so stop me if I get on a roll... It seems to me that (assumimng the Magazine article is accurate) it would have been extremely difficult for Pollin, Jordan, Collins, and the current players to be able to co-exist an environment condusive to winning had Jordan returned to the front office and Collins been kept on as head coach. So many relationships deteriorated on so many levels. The Wizards' dirty laundry needed some Airing out. That said, wouldn't have it been better to try to clear the air before firing the Air? The Wizards FIRED not just the best player, but the most-popular, most-competative, most-marketbale human being in the history of basketball after less than two years on the job and without even bothering to talk to him. Even if the Wizards had become more dysfuntional than some of DC's public schools, firing Jordan without so much as a conversation was an act of lunacy on the part of an owner whose organization's lack of success is now only rivaled by its zero credibility.

It's not even about whether or not Jordan deserved to be held accountable for his front office failures. Of course he did. the whole organization did. The football equivalent of MJ running, playing for and quasi-coaching the Wizards would have Mike Holmgren starting at QB for the Seahawks next season. Point is, Abe should have made Mike sweat in that meeting. Should have asked him the tough questions as to how he planned to fix his team. Told him that his combatative nature with teammates on the court didn't always translate between floors. Told him Collins needed to go now because young players like Kwame Brown were just too important too the future of the team. Thanked him for playing but asked him to recognize the drawbacks of the comebacks. SHARED in the responsibilty for all of this but told him just like Phil Jackson would have: You need to do better, Mike. If after such a discussion, Pollin and Jordan couldn't resolve their differences, then Abe could have let Mike resign. But Abe didn't talk to him. Didn't talk to Micheal Jordan. Just fired him. As Tony said, "Simply Unbelievable."

Thanks for letting me vent and for all the great work that keeps me in touch with home. I feel better. It's 2am here. Now I can go to bed. Jon Murphy

Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon: Thanks for paying so much attention to us on the Web site from thousands of miles away. It's much appreciated. --Mike and Tony


McLean, VA: Hey Mike,

"Sports reporters who had established close
personal relationships with Jordan enjoyed
special status, a kind of currency that flowed from
a symbiotic arrangement in which coverage was
flattering and absolutely devoid of controversy."
--Washington Post Magazine

Ears burning?

Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon: Why would they? --Mike


Chevy Nova Tyson's Corner, Va.: Where do you see the Wizards turning for a coach? Does it matter?

Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon: Good question. One thing about being on the road for the NBA playoffs is you are constantly around basketball people who have a million opinions on everything. And by basketball people I mean assistant coaches, former players, former coaches, scouts, and other front office people from assistant GMs to trainers. And one of the people who is really respected around the league in these circles is Eddie Jordan, the assistant coach for the NJ Nets, who gets HUGE credit for helping Byron Scott. So, maybe Jordan is the guy they want. It always matters. Look at what Rick Carlisle did w/a team going nowhere in Detroit. Look at what Frank Johnson has done in Phoenix. There are always new, talented coaches emerging. --Mike


Gaithersburg, MD: I read the feature about the Wizards in the WP Magazine and I wanted to ask Wilbon about his reaction to it? The piece characterized Reporters Who Cover Jordan as being intimidated out of writing negative pieces or too cozy with Jordan to report objectively. I realize that the job of a commentator or columnist is to have an opinion and tell a story rather than report one. I also realize that the job of a sports reporter, particularly a print journalist, has changed from the early days when sports reporting involved describing the game and reporting scores. I have to ask though, do you feel the readers interest was served by the reporting of the Washington Post in the Jordan era?

Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon: I haven't read it and I probably won't. I don't particularly care to read Michael Leahy's work on the topic of pro-basketball or Jordan. He has his opinions. I have mine. And I'll live w/my 23 years of covering basketball and the reputation that goes w/it. Leahy, you might want to know, has had a book deal in place to write about Jordan and the season. So, sportswriters who have covered Jordan aren't the only ones who have agendas, are they? --Mike


McLean, VA: Michael, TK, Mary...

In the spirit of PTI:

Stanley Cup Finals, Game 7, who ya got?!

Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon: I got Anaheim. I think Jiggy has one great game left in him and I think Paul Kariya's performance was so inspirational Saturday night, it could produce carry-over into Game 7, which I usually discount. But this performance was so incredible and the Ducks seem to be such a fairytale that I just think they can win, even though the game is in NJ. --Mike


DC: Hey Guys,

The treatment of Serena Williams, just awful, could it have been because of the Bush Anti-French politics?

Why didn't Sally Jenkins write about that...the way the French treated a Female Athelete. I may have forgiven her many articles on bashing Mr. Jordan.

Any opinions guy's or you don't care?

Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon: Sally Jenkins wasn't in Paris. I agree 100 percent w/you and had I not been at the NBA finals, writing about that awful basketball a previous questioner wants me to apologize for, I would have written about it myself. But I agree w/you COMPLETELY and THROUGHLY. This issue will be revisited come the US Open. I'll bet $$ on that. --Mike


Potomac, Md,: I noted that 35,000 went to see the LPGA in Delaware. Why can't Avenel draw such crowds? (Delaware had the same weather.)

Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon: I don't think that Avenel, which I have enjoyed playing several times, is well-liked by players on tour (in fact, we know it's not) or by the thousands of golf afficiandos who live in this area. Also, the LPGA had Annika Sorenstam who at this moment (even though it may not last for long) is about the 3rd or 4th biggest draw in golf after Tiger and Phil and Sergio. So, I'm not surprised that DE got those crowds and I'm glad it happened. --Mike


Re: Coaches: Speaking of new, talented coaches emerging, what do you guys think of John Stockton as a coach in the future?

Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon: GREAT question. He has to remind us all, at least a little bit, of Jerry Sloan right? It may take a couple of years and he may want to take some time off first, but I'm like you. I'm wondering when he's going to emerge as an assistant coach somewhere, maybe in college. --Mike


Snowybridge, AZ: Why don't you guys just take 10 minutes out of your day, sit down at a computer and actually TYPE your responses during this chat? It just seems like such a pain to relay your responses over the phone to some poor schlub over at the computer.

Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon: First of all, I'm not a poor schlub. So, let's get that clear. And we've been doing this chat for nearly 5 years and the guys have never typed their answers, except for one time in Sydney when I was too tired and out of it to type b/c I had been up for like 3 days straight. It's not b/c they can't type. It's a logistical thing. For example, if Mike is on the road calling in from a game, he can't log in and see your questions. Plus, we need a producer (moi and the folks at washingtonpost.com) to filter through your questions and comments and pick which ones to take/post etc. --Mary


Herndon, VA.: Mary,

Any advice on Father's Day gifts?

Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon: A photo of you and your Dad. A gift certificate. A copy of Tony's book. --Mary


Re: Serena: I agree with you Mike, completely out of line at a Tennis Match, it was equivalent of watching Happy Gilmore. However, did you catch her previous press conference remarks where she explained that the French would rather "design clothes" than participate in the war against terrorism, in her worst French accent none the less. The Williams family is notorious for putting their feet in their mouths. Like you I'm sure, Tennis is Tennis and Politics is Politics, and they should never be mixed.

Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon: Thansk for the comment. --The Chat House


Tallahassee, Fla.: Guys and Mary --

Tony writes yet again this morning about Jordan and the Bullets. Isn't it time to get over it and move on, or will you all continue to come back to this forever because it is such an easy hit on ol'Abe?
The franchise has been a true dog for so long, do you think anything they will ever do will work?

Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon: You can't be a local columnist and "get over it." It's the job of a columnist at The Washington Post to write about them. They have a chance to become a good team by acquiring the right players, the same chance that any bad team has. I mean Sacramento stunk for years, for 20 years they stunk. Look at the NFL how teams get better. What are you an idiot? --Tony


Takoma Park, Md.: Too bad about Funny Cide coming in third at the Belmont, but he's still my favorite Horse of the Year!

Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon: I thought all 3 Triple Crown races were specatacular. But getting 101,000 out in the rain to watch a horse race was a miracle. It would have been better if Funny Cide won for the sport, but Andy Beyer says it's better that he didn't win b/c he isn't a great horse and only great horses should win the Triple Crown. --Tony


NoVa: Any chance at all that Gary Williams would be considered to coach the Wizards?

Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon: No. --Tony


Bethesda, Md.: Tony & Mike, great articles this morning in The Post. My first question: What do you think bout the Lindros for Jagr rumors flying round? To me it makes no sense why Lindros with his health history and he costs just as much. Second: what chance does your boy Marvin Lewis have of breaking .500 with the Bengals this year? Thanks frankie bones

Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon: The Capitals don't want Jagr for his 50 zillion dollars. The only guy they can trade him for is Lindros. Lindros has health issues. Jagr doesn't. So while Lindros might be better than having Jagr-- if you hate Jagr- -- he might also get a concussion and be out of the league. I'd do it b/c it's clear that the ownership hates Jagr now.

You were the one who brought him to town. --Mike

I did. It's true. --Tony

He's your boy. --Mike

It's true. --Tony


Re: Father's Day Gift: John Feinstein's book on last year's US Open or Rick Reily's book on caddying for the golf-loving dad.

Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon: Thanks John and Rick. --The Chat House

John Feinstein makes over 1 million dollars per book. He doesn't need you to buy his book. I do. I'm Back for More Cash. --Tony

Tony only makes a half a million dollars a book. --Mike

That's b-s. --Tony

I make less than a 10th of that! --Tony


Washington, D.C.: It looks like Major League Baseball is backing off of their committment to relocate the Montreal Expo's for next season and stay in Puerto Rico. What do you think the chances of Montreal being relocated to D.C. for next season are?

Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon: What commitment are we talking about here? When did Bud Selig say " I commit a team to Washington?" What are you living in George Solomon's basement? --Tony

That's not going to make any sense to anybody, but me. --Mike


RE: Leahy Article: He just took a swipe at Wilbon on the other chat. Is there a feud brewing between you two?

Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon: No, he didn't take a swipe at me. I just read it. He just described our difference of opinion and that's fine. Maybe someone will want to put me on a TV show w/Leahy now. --Mike


Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon: Thanks for joining us here today. Have a good week and we'll see you next week. --The Chat House


Thank You So Much: I just wanted to say thank you guys for making this Monday spent inside an office a lot more bearable. Lately, with the busy schedules I understand its been tough for you both to make the time, but its greatly appreciated nonetheless. Today, however, has been vintage, clah-sssic Chat House, circa 2001. Enjoy the weather.

Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon: Thank you. --The Chat House



That wraps up today's show. Thanks to everyone who joined the discussion.

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