When the Washington Bullets and Indiana Pacers square off at the Baltimore Arena tonight, don't be surprised to find promoters Bob Arum and Don King as courtside spectators, searching for new boxing talent.
Said Bullets coach Wes Unseld, who has been portrayed as both a peacemaker and instigator in past scuffles, depending on your point of view: "I don't think we like each other. That's no secret, and it shows up on the floor."
It is not listed in the Ring record book, but several Bullets and Pacers have been fined for their extracurricular activities during the past two seasons.
For those keeping count, the swinging started in Baltimore on Feb. 18, 1990. Bernard King, 205, of Washington, and Chuck Person, 225, of Indiana, masquerading as small forwards, went toe-to-toe in the third quarter. No blood was spilled, and it was scored a draw.
Both were ejected, but Person, the aggressor, was fined $4,000 to King's $1,000 after tapes of the bout were reviewed by National Basketball Association chief of operations Rod Thorn.
That was only the preliminary. When the Bullets walked off the floor with a 116-97 victory, several brawls broke out on the way to the dressing rooms.
Cruiserweight Darrell Walker, 180, of Washington, tangled with Reggie Miller, 185, of Indiana. When this bout was interrupted, Ledell Eackles, 215, of Washington, took out after Miller.
In the makings of a horrible mismatch, then Indiana coach Dick ("I'm a macho Italian") Versace, 5 feet 10, 190, challenged Unseld, 6-7, 255. A stare by Unseld froze Versace in his tracks and helped limit their fight to angry words.
The rematch took place at Market Square Arena in Indianapolis on Dec. 19. King and Person made threatening gestures, but referees intervened before punches were thrown.
But they did not move fast enough to prevent a super-heavyweight scuffle between the Bullets' Pervis Ellison and the Pacers' Rik Smits. Ellison won a unanimous decision after his right raised a large welt under Smits' eye. Both were ejected in the fourth quarter and subsequently fined $7,500.
The fallout was more for severe for Versace, who was fired after the Pacers lost in overtime, 114-112.
Opponent: Indiana Pacers
Site: Baltimore Arena, 8 p.m.
Radio: WBAL (1090 AM), WTOP (1500 AM)
Outlook: The Bullets have won six straight home games and eight of their past 12 overall. Darrell Walker recorded his second straight triple-double in the 104-99 victory over Atlanta on Wednesday. Washington has won both previous games with Indiana this season in OT. G Vern Fleming (pinched nerve in neck) and C Rik Smits (arthroscopic elbow surgery) are on the injured list. Third-year G Michael Williams, obtained as a free agent, has averaged 15 points, 7.0 assists and 3.0 steals since replacing Fleming in the lineup. The Pacers have signed G Byron Dinkins and C Jawaan Oldham to 10-day contracts.