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Mike Downey

Now, Mahorn Can Cry (Timber) Wolf as Much as He Likes

June 18, 1989|Mike Downey

Who's afraid of the big, bad Timberwolf? Not I, said the sportswriter.

Ricky Mahorn is a Minnesota Timberwolf now. In the blinking of an eye--or, to use imagery more suited to Mahorn's style of "play," in the gouging of an eye--he went from a championship basketball team to one that has never won a game.

In sincere sympathy for his plight, I have, oh, about 10 words to say to Wolfman Rick today.

Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ho, ho, ho, ho, ho!

This is a hot one, Mahorn getting the heave-ho from the Detroit Pistons around 36 hours after beating the Lakers for the National Basketball Assn. title. One minute the Rickster was in Detroit's starting lineup; next minute the Pistons were telling him not to let the door to the Palace of Auburn Hills hit him in the butt on the way out.

Yo, Ricky. Let's try one of those Timberwolf calls, OK, big guy? Get yourself ready for next year.

Ah-wooooooo! Ah-wooooooo! That's it. Those Minnesota fans will be a-howling next season when they come to watch their NBA expansion team play ball. Just imagine their joy, Rick, on the night the Timberwolves win their 10th game. Should be sometime around March.

Ah-wooooooo! Ah-wooooooo!

What's that you say? Unfeeling? Me? Unsympathetic? Completely indifferent to what it must be like to be ripped from the arms of your championship teammates and tossed like old laundry into the hamper of expansion?

Well, now, isn't that just too bad? Somehow this makes up for a whole lot of elbows, pokes, shoves, stiff-arms, forearm shivers, insults and other cheap shots that Ricky (McFilthy) Mahorn piled up over the course of the 1988-89 season. Including the playoffs. Including, for that matter, his whole unpleasant career.

See what happens to "Bad Boys," son? Bad things.

Thanks for the memories, the Pistons said, and sent him on his way. Here, here's our phone number, in case you get lonely. Call collect. Just dial 1 (800) 976-CHAMPS. Go off and be a good little Timberwolf now. Oh, and Ricky, don't lose that number.

Hey, I'm sorry if I can't feel sorry for a guy who "plays" basketball the way Ricky Mahorn does. Game after game, Mahorn does his level worst to provoke or pound on whatever opponent happens to be handy. In hockey, they would call him a goon, except for the people in his own town, who would call him an enforcer. The way Mahorn plays basketball, he ought to be charged with resisting arrest.

So, justice was done the other day when the Pistons, who could protect only eight players, left Mahorn unguarded and saw him snapped up by the lean and hungry Timberwolves. Mahorn's tactics should fit in nicely with Minnesota Coach Bill Musselman, who obviously feels nostalgic for the days of Ron Behagen and Luke Witte.

Whenever I think of McFilthy with his elbow along the windpipe of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar or A. C. Green, or think of him pushing Chicago Bull Coach Doug Collins over a table, or think of him doing any of his hundreds of other nefarious acts, I smile at the thought of him getting his Bad Boy self dropped like a bad habit.

The fact that he found out on the day the Pistons were being honored with a downtown parade and a Palace rally, I just consider that icing on the cake. Mahorn is always walking around with that cheesy smile on his face, pretending he's the most innocent victim of blind justice since Dr. Richard Kimble. Let's see you smile this one off, Wolfman.

Ah-woooooo! Ah-wooooooo!

Mahorn is one of those condescending bullies who treats people like dirt unless they happen to play on his team. He gets away with it because he is big and strong and mean and nasty and never has to answer for his attitude, except with an occasional technical foul. Compared to Mahorn, Bill Laimbeer is a moonie at the airport, selling flowers.

When it finally began to occur to people during the NBA finals that the Pistons were going to have to give up one of their nine fine players in the expansion draft, I began to read items in other writers' stories about how Vinnie Johnson or James Edwards would be getting a one-way ticket out of town. I never laughed so hard in my life.

Anybody who spent any time around the Pistons knew that there was no way they were going to give up the greatest streak shooter in the game (Johnson) or a 7-foot, 1-inch backup center (Edwards) who is good enough to start on seven-eighths of the NBA's teams, the Lakers included.

Mahorn was in the Detroit starting lineup more out of superstition than anything else. No coach likes to break up a winning lineup. Mahorn would start every game, maim a few people, then go back to his seat. Rarely was he seen on the court at game's end. He was on the bench, where he belonged.

Do I feel sorry for Ricky Mahorn, being taken away from the teammates with whom he shared love and success? No, I do not. If I am going to feel sorry for somebody, it is going to be Adrian Dantley, who was 10 times more valuable to the Pistons than Mahorn was, but got traded to Dallas before he could get his championship ring.

Not much could be done to keep Bad Boy from getting a ring. But, at least he didn't have much time to enjoy it.

Hey, Ricky.

Woof.

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