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Not that Moncrief's about to become hot stuff. "I don't know what that is," says Moncrief. "Maybe it was growing up in Arkansas, going to school there. It was slower paced, there wasn't much for the average person to do there. Milwaukee...things aren't much different."
Life probably would be the same for Moncrief wherever he played. Last month, the Bucks flew his parents from Little Rock to New Jersey for the All-Star game and the hullabaloo in New York that preceded it. "We had a good time, but I don't think it'll happen again," says Moncrief, the implication being that, for parents and son, things were just a bit too slick.
Life in the Little Rock of Moncrief's youth was pretty much cut and dried. Racism? No big deal. "Maybe it helped me mature earlier," Moncrief says. "I learned to take all the abuse and adversity. I like to think I'm a nice person but deep down I'm hard. If the situation requires it, I can be aggressive. I have been before. I'd just prefer not to go that route."
Of course, that could lead to a loss of recognition and the attendant financial benefits. "I'll let my playing do the talking for me," Moncrief says. "I'd like to be recognized more than I am. Sometimes I wish I were different. I hope people take notice of me, but I can't be concerned if they do or not."
It's hard to focus on Moncrief because, apart from the occasional breakaway slam or the acrobatic layup, nothing in his game stands out. He doesn't have Winters' arching jump shot or Bird's uncanny passing touch. In fact the most noticeable thing about Moncrief has little to do with the actual playing of the game. Running on his toes, he prances, like a champion show horse keeping time to some inner beat. Moncrief also engages in little of the bantering that goes on during games between opposing players on the floor or the locker-room joking among teammates. "It's not that he's stuffy or arrogant; he's just a total professional," says Bucks' Vice-President John Steinmiller. "If everyone in the league were like him it would be IBM instead of NBA." Adds Nelson, "I think I've heard him tell one joke since he's been here."
There's a good reason for that. "I don't get paid to tell jokes," Moncrief says. "I'm paid to play basketball." That's not to say he can't be funny. The incessant disco music pulsating throughout the Milwaukee dressing room before a recent game paused for no more than five seconds between songs. All eyes fell upon Moncrief, the owner of the tape deck. Sheepishly, Sidney fell into a long-winded and nonsensical discourse about a foul-up on his reel-to-reel recording system. "Well, it goes like this," Moncrief said as he went to a chalkboard and drew a complete diagram of his recording system, professorially pinpointing the problem as his teammates roared with laughter.
That night Moncrief scored 19 points in a 117-92 laugher over the Mavericks. The dressing room excuse was lame but Moncrief wasn't and Milwaukee would like to keep it that way into the playoffs and beyond.