Nothing can silence Ficker: not opposing coaches, not opposing players, not the NBA, which last season implemented a fan-conduct code that has become known as the Ficker Rule. Any fan now faces ejection from the arena if he acts up during a game. A second forced exit in the same season would mean revocation of his season ticket. "The rule is tougher than the NBA drug policy!" complains Ficker, who was ejected once last season during a timeout tirade against the New Jersey Nets. This leads Ficker to surmise that he's being singled out, persecuted. "Compared to Leon the Barber, I'm Disney-rated," he says. The late, lamented Leon, a denizen of Detroit's Cobo Arena, often expressed his feelings in terms of anatomical parts unmentionable in this chaste publication.
Ficker's first ejection came as a plebe at West Point, where he says he racked up 90 demerits for browbeating hospital aides while he was laid up with a broken leg. "I want more food," Ficker had demanded.
"This is all you get," he was told.
"What is this, Oliver Twist?"
Kicked out of West Point for "being argumentative about being argumentative," he says, Ficker attended the Case Institute of Technology and eventually went into law. In 1982 he opened a practice that specializes in divorce and drunken-driving cases. But he can no more stay out of mischief in divorce court than he can on a basketball court. In 1988 he was charged with violating state ethics rules by soliciting clients with a newspaper ad that began: PALIMONY SUITS AGAINST WEALTHY MEN. (He was cleared of the charge in April 1990.)
He has made one-man stands as often as Clint Eastwood. A perennial candidate for Congress, Ficker actually served a term in Maryland's House of Delegates, from 1978 to '82. He was, he says, an anomaly of stubborn principle in an arena of scratch-my-back-and-we'11-get-along compromise. Yet when he ran for the Montgomery County school board in 1988, a Washington Post editorial entitled ANYONE BUT ROBIN FICKER branded him a demagogue and a "one-time hands down winner of all awards for worst member of the Maryland General Assembly in either party (and he's been in both)."
Ficker is such a well-organized cottage industry that when a reporter meets him at his law office in Bethesda, Ficker is ready with a press kit and his own heckling highlights film. "Dad always likes to be on TV," says his 15-year-old daughter, Desiree. "He loves the attention."
What's it like to watch him?
"Are you kidding?" she says. "Like, how cheesy can you get? Choke, artichoke. I mean, really!"
Ficker even heckles his family. If he's not pestering his three kids on the three-lane, 150-yard oval track in his backyard ("You've got to do your speed work! You've got to eat right! You've got to practice!"), he's lecturing them at the dinner table ("Eat your vegetables! Eat your calcium! No cakes! No ice cream!").