There are all kinds of tricks players use to unsettle their opponent. If you can annoy someone, make them mad or use any other way to distract their focus from the game, that’s a win. As we wrote, Gary Payton would talk about anyone from your family if it meant getting an edge. Sometimes, some fans want to help. Out of all of those fans, Robin Ficker is at the top of the list.
For 13 years, he sat behind the guest bench in Washington and heckled everyone. Everyone, every game in the season. As reported by USA Today in 1991, his heckling resume includes the Warriors pouring Gatorade on him, Isiah Thomas throwing a shoe at him, and coach Frank Lyden spitting on him. Not a popular man.
His exploits went so far that the Washington Bullets (now Wizards) moved his seats away from the opposition bench. Not only that, they enforced “the Ficker rule.” His heckling became so problematic during time-outs that it became forbidden to do anything that would interfere with communication between players and coaches during a time-out.
In 1993 Suns were playing the Bulls in the Finals. Barkley knew he was playing against the best player ever and needed a competitive edge. His solution? He paid for a plane ticket to Phoenix and seats behind the Bulls bench so Ficker could trash-talk Jordan the entire game!
As MJ was going through the gambling scandal, Ficker came prepared. At the time newspapers started writing a lot about Jordan and gambling, and Fickler decided that was the button to push:
I brought these huge playing cards, dice, and a bunch of dollar bills. During the game, I’m dealing [Jordan] a hand and asking him what he wants to bet. And he’s turning around and holding up three fingers. It was fun.
Unfortunately for Barkley, he didn’t get his money’s worth. Fickler was kicked out of the arena after the first quarter.
Say what you will about the guy, but he had a rule named after him!