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Riding the Wizards Bench August

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Barkley's Favorite Mouth Will Roar No More

This certainly has been a dull news month. It's been over a month since I wrote a truly newsworthy story. This one is ... well, possibly newsworthy.

It's hard to be a Bullets/Wizards fan in recent years and not be aware of the mouth that roared: Robin Ficker. Like him or hate him, he was ever present (most of the time), even at Baltimore games. And he heckled the opposing team with no mercy. Phil Jackson and Scottie Pippen in particular hated him, and I'm sure there were others. Pippen has thrown gum at Ficker and flipped the finger to him; Jackson has tried to get Ficker ejected for reading (and then tearing out) passages out of Jackson's book on all things Zen.

Not everyone hated him. The king jester himself, Charles Barkley, paid to have Ficker go to several playoff games to sit behind the opponents bench and harass them. Ficker also got into ESPN television and print advertisements, mocking his on-court persona.

But he will be at courtside no more. As reported by Thomas Heath of the Washington Post, Robin Ficker will not be getting Wizards tickets next year. Not only are they too expensive, but he wouldn't be sitting behind the visitor's bench either.

I happened to sit about 10 rows behind Ficker for 3 years, and usually I appreciated his approach. (In part because I was like him in college.) His routine was clean, family-oriented fun. Curse-words or obscene gestures never slipped from his act. And he had some great lines that really got inside the heads of opponents (in particular, Scottie Pippen, even in recent years).

Still, I'm not sure if I'll miss him or not. I'll probably miss him some, if just because he was a bit of energy that stood out in an otherwise boring section of professionals who just sit on their hands and voices during most of a game, as if observing a scientific experiment. And that means I need to be just a little more vocal myself, next year.

wtf 25 August 1997

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