Late in the Washington Bullets' 116-96 victory over the New Jersey Nets Friday night, after one of Manute Bol's nine blocked shots, a Capital Centre fan raised a pair of boxing gloves in the direction of the rookie center.
The inference was clear: Up next, Manute II.
However, those expecting a repeat of last week's fight between Bol and Chicago Bulls center Jawann Oldham are likely to be disappointed when the teams play today at Capital Centre at 1 p.m. After all, although he acquitted himself well, Bol wanted no part of the first go-round and finds the thought of more trouble distasteful.
"For me it ended then, the first time," he said after Friday's game. "I don't know what he's thinking, but I don't want to fight anybody ever."
Bol was fined $750, including the standard $250 that accompanies ejection. Oldham -- who started the fight, was suspended for a game and was fined $1,750 -- has yet to speak out regarding his role in the incident. However, the Chicago Tribune quoted him as saying that "Manute's version of what happened will have to do for now."
The only swatting that is likely to occur today is the swatting of basketballs from the inside. The Bullets lead the NBA in blocked shots with 358, an average of almost nine per game. Bol has taken over as the league leader in blocks from Utah's Mark Eaton. Bol's nine blocks against the Nets give him 177, and an average of 4.5 a game.
For the Bullets, today's game, which begins the second half of the season, is a chance to get back to .500. Washington has won three of its last four games, mainly by controlling the tempo.
"We've been slowing the pace down, almost putting teams to sleep," said guard Leon Wood, who scored 22 points in the Bullets' 117-113 win over Chicago on Tuesday, 25 against Milwaukee two nights later and 30 against the Nets on Friday. "Suddenly, though, we start to fast break and get some easy scores, and then we're forcing the other teams to play our way."
Any way seems to be a good way for Wood right now, although his electric performances since he joined the Bullets haven't seemed to surprise very many NBA people.
"He's fresh, and he really wants to play," said New Jersey Coach Dave Wohl. "There was a minute problem with Philadelphia, but that didn't mean that he wasn't a good player. He's someone who gives them great skills."
That he does so while exhibiting more than a little flash seems to be greatly appreciated by the fans. For the players, though, a fancy pass isn't as important as an accurate one.
"Right now he's looking like Magic Johnson or Isiah Thomas," said Jeff Malone. "That's great for everyone, as long as what he's doing is working. If the ball gets there, I don't care if it's coming from behind the back or through the legs or what."