Wilbon in 2011
Michael Ray Wilbon
November 19, 1958
Chicago, Illinois, United States
|Occupation||Sports journalist, TV personality|
Cheryl Johnson (m. 1997)
|Relatives||Carole Simpson (cousin)|
Michael Ray Wilbon (; born November 19, 1958) is an ESPN commentator and former sportswriter and columnist for The Washington Post. He is an analyst for ESPN and has co-hosted Pardon the Interruption on ESPN with former Post writer Tony Kornheiser since 2001.
Wilbon began working for The Washington Post in 1980 after summer internships at the newspaper in 1979 and 1980. He covered college sports, Major League Baseball, the National Football League and the National Basketball Association before being promoted to full-time columnist in February 1980. His column in the Post, which dealt as much with the culture of sports as the action on the court or field, appeared up to four times a week until he left to work full-time for ESPN on December 7, 2010.
In his career, Wilbon covered ten Summer and Winter Olympic Games for The Washington Post, every Super Bowl since 1987, nearly every Final Four since 1982 and each year's NBA Finals since 1987. Notably, he was also the only reporter based outside of Hawaii to cover the historic basketball upset of top-ranked Virginia by then-NAIA member Chaminade in 1982 (he was in Honolulu to cover a college football bowl game).
During his time at the Post, Wilbon earned the reputation as one of "the best deadline writer[s] in American newspapers." In 2001, Wilbon was named the top sports columnist by the Society of Professional Journalists.
In recent years, Wilbon has become more known as an ESPN personality than as a reporter. On December 7, 2010, he wrote his last column for the Washington Post and officially dedicated full-time to work for ESPN and ABC.
After contributing to ESPN's The Sports Reporters and other shows on the cable network, Wilbon began co-hosting ESPN's daily opinion forum Pardon the Interruption (PTI) with Tony Kornheiser on October 22, 2001. Wilbon was also a member of ABC's NBA Countdown (which he hosted with Jalen Rose, Bill Simmons and Magic Johnson), which was the pre-game show for the network's NBA telecasts.
In addition to his work at The Washington Post, PTI and ESPN, Wilbon appeared weekly on WRC-TV in Washington, D.C. with WRC Sports Director George Michael, and Pro Football Hall of Famers John Riggins and Sonny Jurgensen on Redskins Report during the football season. He also appeared with Michael, USA Today basketball writer David Dupree and Tony Kornheiser on Full Court Press during the basketball season. Both of these shows were canceled in December 2008 due to budget cuts. Wilbon also forged a close friendship with former Marshall and former NFL quarterback Byron Leftwich while the young passer was a standout player for HD Woodson in Washington, D.C.
In late 2006, Wilbon agreed to a multi-year contract extension with ESPN. After accepting the contract, Wilbon offered to resign from the Post, but the newspaper's chairman Don Graham and executive editor Len Downie both asked him to stay on. The network gained priority therein with regards to conflicts with his newspaper assignments. The first major conflict occurred on February 4, 2007, when Wilbon covered a Detroit Pistons-Cleveland Cavaliers game instead of Super Bowl XLI.
Wilbon grew up on the South Side of Chicago, Illinois as the son of a route salesman and a public school teacher. He graduated from St. Ignatius College Preparatory School in 1976 and received his journalism degree in 1980 from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. While in college, Wilbon wrote for The Daily Northwestern.
Wilbon currently lives in Bethesda, Maryland, but he also has a home in Scottsdale, Arizona. Wilbon and his wife Cheryl Johnson Wilbon had their first child, Matthew Raymond Wilbon, via surrogate on March 26, 2008. Kornheiser often refers to Matthew affectionately as "Lilbon." Former ABC News reporter Carole Simpson is Wilbon's cousin.
Wilbon is good friends with former NBA star Charles Barkley and has edited and written the introduction for his most recent books, I May Be Wrong But I Doubt It and Who's Afraid of a Large Black Man?, both of which were New York Times best sellers.
Wilbon suffered a heart attack on January 27, 2008. After complaining of chest pains, he was taken to a Scottsdale hospital where doctors performed an angioplasty. Wilbon is also a type-2 diabetic.
On August 10, 2008, during a Cubs-Cardinals game at Wrigley Field, Wilbon threw out the ceremonial first pitch and then sang "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" as part of the seventh-inning stretch. Footage of Wilbon wearing a tucked-in Cubs jersey and bouncing the pitch is frequently shown on Pardon The Interruption as a friendly teasing by Kornheiser.
In May 2009, Wilbon competed in a made-for-TV "King of Bowling" show against pro bowling star Wes Malott. Wilbon beat Malott by a score of 256-248, but Wilbon received a 57-pin handicap and Malott had to use a plastic ball.
Wilbon has served as a trustee of Northwestern University.
Media related to Michael Wilbon at Wikimedia Commons