Notice something missing from the NBA in the early season? If league commissioner David Stern is right, NBA fans won't see nearly as much whining. In a league where complaining to officials seemed to be a player's birthright, Stern's move to enact a zero-tolerance policy for whining points to the commissioner's desire to return the league to a more businesslike atmosphere.
Stern's move marks the latest in decorum battles between a league front office determined to square off in-game behavior and players who would much prefer simply to be left alone. In enacting the policy to assess a technical foul to any player complaining about an official's call, Stern said he hoped to end the "harangue and complaint session" that traditionally followed next to every whistle.
Of course, some players saw Stern's new rule as specifically directed at them. Detroit forward Rasheed Wallace, perennially among the leaders in technical fouls, said the rule might as well have been named for him. Wallace, some say, believes he's never committed a foul.
And fairly quickly in the Pistons home opener, Wallace picked up two technicals for what might be-by normal Rasheed Wallace standards-nominal complaining. To be certain, Wallace didn't like the application of the anti-complaining rule. "It's just given them more power than what a majority of them can handle," Wallace said. "You don't really even have to say nothing."
But most players are playing along. Even Tim Duncan, the Prince of Protest, has cut out all the shrugging and pleading. Which leads some to suggest this NBA season might contain some unintentional comedy gold. "Watching [Wallace and Antoine Walker] internalizing their emotions could end up being the funniest ongoing subplot of the 2006-07 season," wrote ESPN.com columnist Bill Simmons.
NFL: For those who have followed the history of the NFL, it's no surprise it was the Miami Dolphins that dealt the Chicago Bears their first loss of the season. In 1985-the last time the Chicago Bears seemed to be working through a perfect season to challenge the 1972 Dolphins record-the Dolphins ambushed an undefeated and seemingly invincible Bears squad on Monday Night Football. Then, on Nov. 5, the current Dolphins once again defended the 1972 team's record, knocking off an undefeated Chicago team.
BASKETBALL: In college basketball's so-called Year of the Freshman, it's worth noting that the top freshman, Greg Oden, probably won't even play until 2007. Oden, who chose to play at Ohio State when new NBA rules prevented high-school players from going straight to the professional ranks, won't be available until January as he recovers from a wrist injury. But while Oden remains sidelined, other freshmen like Kevin Durant at Texas and North Carolina's Brandan Wright might steal the national stage.
FOOTBALL: Time to panic for Notre Dame football fans: The Fighting Irish game against Air Force on Nov. 11 didn't make it onto any major network schedules, marking the first time since 1992 that a Notre Dame football game didn't air on ABC, CBS, NBC, or ESPN. Fans of other schools might not be so sympathetic, though. After 169 nationally televised contests, for once Notre Dame fans had to scramble through the television lineup, only to find no golden domes on air.