some many all of you think I write about Robin Ficker too much. So to you, I say, [clever, non-profane heckle.]
Back in Ficker’s heckling glory days, he was often described by his litany of greatest hits. For example, this comes from USA Today in 1991.
“Michael Jordan of the Chicago Bulls threw a basketball at him. Isiah Thomas of the Detroit Pistons threw a shoe. The Golden State Warriors, en masse, doused him with Gatorade. Former Utah coach Frank Layden spit on him.”
I never knew any of these facts, to be honest. Regardless, producers from the Jeff Probst Show decided that Ficker and Thomas would thus be a perfect duo for their Would You Say That To My Face episode. But only if Thomas emerged, heckling Ficker, shoe-in-hand, from the studio audience.
“I’ve waited a lonnnnng time to do this,” Thomas says as he meets Ficker face-to-face.
The press release says Ficker received “the surprise of his life” from Thomas, which probably means he had a pretty unsurprising life, but still. More from the release:
In the interview, Ficker and Isiah Thomas recall how in 1993, NBA star Charles Barkley of the Phoenix Suns paid Ficker to sit behind their opponent, Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls, during the NBA Finals, to try and distract him throughout the series.
“Barkley got me tickets in the NBA season finals right behind Michael Jordan when his gambling was an issue,” explains Ficker. “So I brought out the $100 bills, the oversized cards, the big dice, and had a game going during the NBA Finals. I’d say, ‘Mike, how much you wanna bet?'”
“Normally, you can block everyone out, because you’re so focused and you’re concentrating,” says Thomas. “But he had a voice and a way – it seemed like he did a lot of homework because he would say things that would just grab your attention right when you’re getting ready to shoot a foul shot…it would knock you off a little bit.”
Just think, one day 20 years from now there’ll be an episode of an afternoon talk show focusing on Wizards fans, the 4th quarter, and free chicken sandwiches. The Probst show airs this Friday afternoon; check local listings.