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Count on Cheeks for chatter

Probably no coach in NBA history has carried on more conversations with fans during a game than Portland's Maurice Cheeks.

In most cases, Cheeks is responding to a spectator's attempt to get his attention. But sometimes he initiates the give-and-take with fans near the Trail Blazer bench.

'It is the damndest thing,' the third-year coach says. 'I don't know why I do that. I would have never thought I would do something like that. I have never seen a coach do it.

'I do it sometimes on the road, but I do it more at home. I don't know if it is a comfort zone or seeing some of the people who have been there every night or what. I will just be talking to them, and I kind of get into it, and the fans get into it.

'I kind of have fun with it a little bit. It takes me away from the game when we are getting beat or trying to get back into a game. I have a good time with it.'

Does it ever distract him from doing his job?

'No, no, no,' Cheeks insists. 'I only do it after something happens or when a player goes out, or maybe when he is coming into the game, or in a dead-ball situation, or when I am walking up the floor toward the action.

'I don't do it when it takes my vision away from the game.'