Robert Griffin III, DeSean Jackson, and, uh, Wolf Blitzer attended last night's Pacers-Wizards game at Verizon Center. This, the TNT broadcast made sure to remind us, indicated the Big Deal-ness of the game. The stars came out to cheer on the Wizards!
However, if you happened to be paying attention to Basketball Twitter during the game, you may have noticed a different name, sometimes accompanying a grainy photo of a wizened dude in a yellow T-shirt, agitating your favorite basketball writers: Robin Ficker. The infamous NBA heckler—whom Charles Barkley once flew all the way to Phoenix just to heckle the Bulls during the 1993 NBA Finals—was in the house!
An attorney by trade, Ficker's best known away from basketball for his similarly publicity-grabbing defenses of young schoolkids over-punished for dumb crap like pointing finger-guns at people. (Remember the 7-year-old kid who got in trouble for biting his Pop-Tart into the shape of a gun? Ficker's defending that kid.) In his spare time, he's a habitual novelty candidate for political offices, a compulsive promoter of ballot initiatives of various Libertarian-y bents—and, for many years, a notoriously irritating heckler of visiting stars at Washington Bullets games. When the newly-christened Wizards moved to what was then called the MCI Center, though, and his seats got moved well away from the court, Ficker stormed off in a huff. That was in 1998—which is why you may also have noticed that his appearance at last night's game didn't seem to mean much to young people.
Still, that's something, isn't it? For NBA fans of a certain (old-ass) age, a Robin Ficker appearance behind the visitors' bench has a pretty potent nostalgia value, not unlike hearing Snapper and Walton bicker about whether this or that big man is a stiff or a warrior poet. An instant transport back to the NBA of the '80s and '90s, when the stars seemed like demigods and a Sunday playoff broadcast felt like the biggest thing on Earth. Heady stuff!
Dan Steinberg scored an interview with Ficker this morning. Seems he set his sights on Roy Hibbert, using a handheld dry-erase board to question Hibbert's stamina. That's pretty clever. Old dude still has his fastball.
On the other hand:
"He woke me up," Hibbert said of a heckler after the game, via CSN Washington. "He said I was tired. He was saying a lot of obscenities. I'm a God fearing man so I'm not going into saying what he was saying...He got me going and I let him hear [me]."
Hibbert scored 17 points, the Pacers outscored the Wizards by 16 points over his 39 minutes of playing time, and the Wizards are a loss away from elimination.
Fuck you, Robin Ficker.