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Vernon Maxwell, known around the NBA as Mad Max, says he’s no psycho,

April 6, 1995 GMT

HOUSTON (AP) _ Vernon Maxwell, known around the NBA as Mad Max, says he’s no psycho, and he’s not about to change.

The nickname has certainly fit this season, however, as Maxwell has made headlines for his antics off the court.

The Houston Rockets’ guard has been arrested for waving a gun at a motorist in a cafeteria parking lot and refusing to obey a police officer.

He’s been ticketed for cranking music to an offensive level in his Porsche.

The NBA levied a 10-game suspension against him in February for going into the stands and punching a fan in the jaw during a game at Portland. The fan filed a lawsuit against Maxwell and the defending NBA champion Rockets for $4.5 million last week.

``I know I’m a bad guy,″ Maxwell joked recently in an interview with The Associated Press. ``Or a lot of people look at me as being that way.″

Maxwell, who sat out the last four games since being diagnosed with iron-deficiency anemia, admits he’s ``been through a lot of stuff.″ But he says he feels he hasn’t been promoted properly.

``I don’t have a bone in my body as far as really wanting to hurt anybody,″ he said.

Portland fan Steve George would disagree.

Maxwell says George provoked him by taunting him about his stillborn daughter.

``He may not have known what he was talking about when he was doing it,″ Maxwell said. ``But if it ever happened again, I feel like I would do the same thing.″

George denies Maxwell’s accusations, saying the remarks prompted him to file the suit. No one has stepped forward to support Maxwell’s version.

``I felt I was being made an example of and I really didn’t get the chance to tell my side of the story (to the NBA) until the suspension was over with,″ Maxwell said.

``I didn’t even hit him. I admit I tried to ... and I missed him.″

The Portland game perpetuated Maxwell’s reputation as a loose cannon.

The 29-year-old carries a pistol in his car, but he’s never used it. Friends call him ``Big Game James″ for his love of competition.

He’s an emotional player who was raised along with three siblings in a Gainesville, Fla., ghetto by his single mother. Maxwell now has three children of his own.

He’s had little contact with his father since he left when Maxwell was an 8-year-old boy wearing ``Dr. J″ sneakers and mimicking his idol, Julius Erving.

Childhood experiences, such as the time his father neglected to send him a winter coat or the birthdays that went unrecognized by his dad, hardened Maxwell.

He says he doesn’t worry about how others see him.

``I’m not a cold-hearted person but I don’t care what people think about me,″ he said.

He doesn’t want to spark any more controversy, though. For that reason, he did not argue when Rockets coach Rudy Tomjanovich broke the news that Clyde Drexler would replace him in the starting lineup, he said.

``In the back of my mind, I was frustrated. (But) I don’t want to cause any more turmoil at this time. I just want to finish up the season and then just get out of here,″ he said.

``I don’t really consider myself being a guy to come off the bench. I feel like I’ve worked hard enough to get where I was. Clyde’s a great player and I love Clyde to death. I’m not knocking Clyde, but I feel like I still should be on the floor.

``If I can’t get out there as a starter, I would rather go to another team because I worked too hard to get where I was to be demoted like that.″

Tomjanovich said discussing trades is ``counterproductive.″ He said that although Maxwell may not start, he’s still a valuable member of the team.

``A lot of people thought we couldn’t win the championship, but we did, and he was a very big part of it,″ Tomjanovich said. ``He was traded to us from our biggest competitor (the San Antonio Spurs) for nothing. He got his career in the right direction and became a member of a championship team.″

Maxwell said he felt coaches and scouts around the league questioned whether the Rockets could go all the way with him on the team.

``When we did win, it was the best feeling in the world because everybody doubted my ability as a starter and a player to go out and be capable of being on a championship team,″ Maxwell said.

``When I came out of college, people back at the University of Florida said `Max won’t last a year in the NBA.′ ″

He’s lasted seven.