Two weeks into the NBA season and already I'm disgusted by a lack of respect shown to fans. I'm talking about a new trend of players on the bench feeling an inexplicable need to stand up for long stretches of games.
The Cleveland Cavaliers provided an atrocious example of this on Saturday at the United Center. Their entire bench, which included 7-foot-3 center Zydrunas Ilgasukas at the time, stood for most of the fourth quarter, thoroughly blocking the view of a couple hundred fans who spent a hard-earned $155 for their tickets (this was a premium game, after all) so those players could build an extra garage to store their collection of Range Rovers and Rolls Royces. Or some similar expenditure.
Now, I can understand players jumping up if one of their teammates makes a great play or if it's the final seconds of a close game when everyone in the arena is standing. But there should be an obvious line between supporting your team and being a jerk.
The Cavs surely aren't the only team guilty of this practice, but it needs to stop. Maybe it's inappropriate to fine the team unless a warning has been issued. So this would be a good time for Commissioner David Stern to stand up for the fans and make these self-absorbed players sit down.
I haven't been this annoyed since a few coaches – Flip Saunders was definitely one of them – started whining about opposing teams trying to win free chalupas for the fans in lopsided games by crossing 100 points or whatever. Why wouldn't coaches getting their feelings hurt take precedence over doing something nice for fans, even if the free items cost less than $2?
That issue went away, so Stern must have done something about it, like suggest those losers try playing some defense.
--I will say this about the Cavaliers: They seem to be massively improved from last season and should end up providing the biggest challenge to Boston in the Eastern Conference.
Simply put, the Cavs are moving the ball and pushing the tempo instead of standing around watching LeBron James dribble 20 seconds off the clock before launching a 23-foot fadeaway (which he usually made).
I'm not sure if former Bucks guard Mo Williams is making a difference or if this is mostly due to a shift in offensive philosophy, but it was long overdue. A team with one of the league's all-time greatest talents shouldn't be trying to keep the score as low as possible.
--It was interesting how Detroit actually won two games without either Allen Iverson or Chauncey Billups, then lost two in a row once Iverson suited up. The Pistons lost to the Nets, then looked terrible while losing at home to the Celtics on Sunday.
This should probably be no surprise. I doubt if GM Joe Dumars expected the Pistons to be better with Iverson. He just thought it was time to change the roster and start rebuilding on the fly. Detroit was a team that shared the ball and relied on its four stars equally. Now with Iverson on the floor, there are four scorers and no one to distribute.
I'd imagine the Pistons will eventually stick with a lineup of Rodney Stuckey and Iverson at guard, while Rip Hamilton slides down to small forward and Tayshaun Prince plays power forward.
--The latest players rumored to be on the move are Charlotte's Gerald Wallace, Golden State's Al Harrington and New York's Eddy Curry.
I don't think the Bulls have much interest in any of them. Curry for obvious reasons, Wallace because they just made a huge commitment to Luol Deng and Harrington because he wouldn't have a place in the Bulls' lineup.
The Bulls never seriously considered a Kirk Hinrich for Harrington swap over the summer because it wouldn't make sense to have Harrington and Drew Gooden on the same roster. Swapping Gooden for Harrington doesn't make a ton of sense, either, since Harrington has moved his game outside in recent years and is taking more 3-point shots. The Bulls already have plenty of those.
--Utah really caught a break with a soft early schedule that allowed it to start 5-0 with point guard Deron Williams sidelined by a bad ankle. Now the Jazz is on a five-game road trip, though, which started with a loss to the 4-2 Knicks.
--Get ready for 71-win talk to begin soon for the Lakers. During their 5-0 start, the Lakers lead the league in both scoring (106.8 ppg) and points allowed (84.4) for a cool point differential of 22.4.
--This might be a good time to back off my prediction that Derrick Rose will be an easy winner in the rookie of the year race. Memphis guard O.J. Mayo scored 64 points the last two nights against Denver and Phoenix. Rose still wins, but maybe the vote will be a little closer.