“Hey future governor Barkley,” Robin Ficker once screamed from courtside at the old Capital Centre, “how do you feel about NAFTA, about health care reform, about tax cuts?”
“Uh, I don’t know,” replied the NBA all-star aspiring politician. “But I do have views on capital punishment. They should use it on you.”
With his screeching, nonstop invective, and goofy gimmicks from behind the visitors’ bench, Ficker, a D.C. lawyer, put in a good 10 years’ hard time annoying pro basketball’s best. For his efforts, he’s been spat upon (LaSalle Thompson), had Gatorade poured on his head (Chris Mullin), and had popcorn dumped over him (Charles Barkley). Even the unflappable Michael Jordan once flung a ball at him.
Ficker prefers to recall the time he worked on Air’s gambling problems: “It was great. I brought along these big dice, and I held up big, hundred-dollar cards.” Yes, and he once taunted Scottie Pippen with a rubber chicken and chased after the Dream Team in Barcelona (“I got on Karl Malone about his playing minutes”).
All right, but why, pray tell, would an otherwise ordinary fan want to become the Heckler From Hell? “I was just trying to improve their game,” says Ficker, who’s given up his seats and is now actually campaigning as a Republican for the U.S. Senate in Maryland. “It was my chance to have a little input.”
Barkley once coupled Ficker with then-president George Bush as “the two biggest assholes in Washington.” Ficker says that his longtime antagonist probably meant it affectionately and that, anyway, he’s “flattered to be put in the same company, which I fully intend to be in, in the year 2000.”
Perish the thought.