University of Michigan men's basketball great Glen Rice was honored at halftime against Big Ten rival Indiana (Feb. 20), by having his No. 41 honored and hoisted into the rafters of Crisler Arena. Rice joins Cazzie Russell, Rudy Tomjanovich, and Phil Hubbard as the only Wolverines to have their numbers honored in such a fashion.
The Flint, Michigan native holds a host of Michigan records including career scoring (2,442 points), single-season scoring (949 points), single-season field goals made 63 in 1988-89), and single-season field goal percentage (.5156, 1988-89).
After his four-year Wolverine career was over, Rice jumped to the NBA where he was the No. 4 overall pick to the Miami Heat in the 1989 NBA Draft. He remains the all-time leading scorer in Heat history with 9,248 points.
After six seasons with the Heat, Rice moved on to the Charlotte Hornets (1995-98) becoming the Hornets' all-time leader in scoring average with 23.5 points per game. While in Charlotte, he was selected to three straight All-Star games (1996-98), including the 1997 All-Star game where he collected MVP honors with 26 points -- 24 of them coming in the second half.
Leaving Charlotte for the Los Angeles Lakers in 1998, Rice was influential in helping the Lakers win the 2000 NBA Championship, their first since 1988.
After playing for the New York Knicks (2000-01) and the Houston Rockets (2001-03), Rice turned to Los Angeles, but this time as a Clipper (2003-04) to close out his career.
In NBA history, Rice ranks third with 1,559 three-pointers made, fifth with 3,896 three-pointers attempted, and tied for 14th with a three-point percentage of .400. He has recorded more career points than any other player drafted in the last 14 years, besides Shaquille O'Neal and Gary Payton.
After his ceremony in which Rice not only thanked the Michigan fans for all their support, but urged them to continue supporting the current Wolverines, he sat down to talk about the 1989 season, coach Tommy Amaker, and what he is currently doing in Miami, Fla.
On returning to basketball after quitting it as a youth
"Being that I was tall, and when I did play in the park, people would say 'Man, you can't let that talent go to waste.' So in ninth grade I gave it another shot and then in the tenth grade at Flint Northwestern where Grover Kirkland said, 'Look, I heard about the idea of you not playing. Listen, let me tell you young kid -- you're too good to let that talent go to waste. God has given you that ability so use it.' I took off from there."
On watching the 1989 championship game with Loy Vaught
"We were just sitting there reminiscing. I think he was watching me, and I was watching him. We got the chills and we got to talking about the other guys we haven't seen -- the Mike Griffins, the J.P Oosterbaans, and so forth. It was almost like, as we were reliving the moment, that we were going to get suited up today and help them raise that jersey. Even though that banner will say Rice 41, there are a lot more names on there."
On what it will take to make the current Wolverines champions
"I seriously think they are on their way this year. I think they had some misfortunes and injuries that set them back, and it snow balled from there. When you look at their coaching staff, they have the right tools, but they just have to catch the right breaks."
On how basketball opened up doors for him in life
"I didn't really realize it could until after the championship. Up until that point, I guess you could say I was a little nave. I've always been the type of individual who doesn't get caught up in the hype too much. I just tried to go out there and win ball games for my team, but in the end it opened up a lot of doors. It gave me an opportunity to see the world and in seeing the world, I'll tell you, I had no idea there were so many Michigan alumni around the United States. It's like everywhere I went there were at least ten Michigan alumni."
On Coach Amaker reaching out to former players
"It means a great deal to me. I think when you go through putting in two, four, or more years for a university, and then you have a coach reaching out to you, still believing in you and wanting you to continue an influence over the program -- it gets right to the heart. From day one Tommy has done that with me. I can't speak for anyone else, but he's done that for me. I told him that whatever I can do to help the university, to help you or your team, I'll be here to do that."
On what the current Wolverines need to do
"They've got to believe in one another. They've got to believe in what the coaches tell them. If you do those things and work hard for one another, things will turn out."
On the retro short-shorts
"That had us on the back of our pants. I know why they put us in those shorts, because they were trying to make guys quicker. Those little shorts were so small. Those shorts were very funny, and to think that we were once in those shorts is incredible."
On whether he ever took a shot he thought he could not make
"No. I wouldn't classify myself as a shooter if I thought other wise. I could still knock it down. I can knock it down with the best of them. As long as I got this right arm, Glen Rice is going to take care of what Glen Rice has to take care of."
On one word to sum up the 1989 Wolverines
"God. We all had faith that he put us together for a reason; whether that was to win a championship, later on in life by helping one another out, or just being a friend. That's definitely the word."
On his immediate thoughts after the jersey retirement ceremony
"Man, it was unbelievable. Like I said out there, the fans and the people of Michigan have always been great to me, and I felt it out there like non-other this afternoon. It was incredible."
On not being in Crisler Arena since 1989
"Just being on that court, alone since 1989, felt so great. To take a shot out there, even though the first couple didn't go in, felt so good. Before I got off that floor, I was determined to make one for the fans."
On what he has been doing since retirement from the NBA
"Basically, just enjoying my family. There are a lot of opportunities in Miami, after basketball, and mainly you just try to get involved in a couple real estate ventures, and that's what I'm trying to do. I don't want to get into something that will be too demanding of my time right now. Hopefully somewhere in the near future I can get back into helping out the youth, whether it be coaching or hosting camps."
On getting into coaching
"It would definitely have to be in Miami or here at Michigan. That is where my heart really lies. At this point I couldn't tell you if it would be coaching or just working with youth, but Miami and Michigan are the only two places I would like to be."
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Contact: Tom Wywrot (734) 763-4423