Personalities-wise, NBA locker rooms are as heterogeneous as it gets. Managing those is the prerequisite for a team to be successful, and it’s usually done internally, by the leader of the group. But what happens if your two leaders sit on the opposite sides of the personality spectrum?
If that’s the case, a clash is inevitable, and it’s only a matter of time before things escalate. For the ’90s Rockets, that happened during a road game in Seattle, with two protagonists being Hakeem Olajuwon and Vernon Maxwell. Hakeem was quiet, respectful, soft-spoken, and Mad Max was the exact opposite. He was quick-tempered, tough, always on the verge of an incident. Well, that night, an incident occurred.
“I got my sh*t slapped out of me. Man walked up on me and slapped the sh* out of me. He said I was being disrespectful; I was spitting on the floor.”Vernon Maxwell, The Right Time with Bomani Jones
The Dream got tired of Maxwell’s antics and decided to exercise his authority. He had set the standard of conduct, and Vernon’s spit on the floor was far below that. That’s why he demanded of him to show some class, despite their poor first-half performance.
“We get in a locker room, he’s behind me, I’m looking back ’cause I’m thinking he’s getting ready to do something. He was like, ‘Maxwell, you’re disrespectful, I don’t like it,’ and I said, ‘Dream I ain’t doing this tonight with you man, we down 15 points, let’s get back in this fuc*king game, man. I’m mad; that’s why I’m spitting.’”Vernon Maxwell, The Right Time with Bomani Jones
Vernon didn’t specify in which game exactly did this happen, nor whether their little locker room scuffle sparked the comeback against the SuperSonics. All he did is complain about how difficult it was to share a locker room with the personality Hakeem embodied. “It was tough to deal with. I love him to death now, but he was tough to deal with, ” Maxwell said. I’m sure The Dream would say the same thing about him.