Slick. Slender. Shooter.
Former Hornets’ coach Allan Bristow, who played with the Iceman in San Antonio, says that Rice’s most striking similarity to Gervin is the certainty that his shot will go in.
“He’s a very confident person, just like George was,” Bristow says. “When Glen steps on the floor, he feels like he’s the best player on the court.”
“I’m honored when people say that,” Rice says. “George was very smooth. When I see him and tell him that people are comparing us, he smiles and says, ‘You’ve got a great jump shot.’”
Ah, the jumpers. Sometimes, it looks so perfect, Rice can’t help but pause to admire it in mid-air. After seeing the ball float effortlessly off of Rice’s fingertips into a rainbow curve, you can’t imagine the ball going anywhere but through the net. When he spots up for a trey, you wouldn’t blame the refs for raising their hands even before he lets go of the ball.
The jumper has been both bread-and-butter and bane for Rice. It helped him win Michigan’s Mr. Basketball award when he was a senior at Flint’s Northwestern High. It helped him win an NCAA title at Michigan in ’89. And it’s helped him average 19.7 points and sink 879-of-2235 treys (.393) over a seven-year pro career.
Bulls’ center and former teammate Robert Parish once said “Who else would I put in Glen’s category as a shooter? Larry Bird.”
As a kid, Rice launched ‘em at night in dimly-lit gyms and parks to fine-tune his shooter’s touch. “I’ve always felt if you can make them in a little darkness, you can make them when the lights come on. If you have the confidence to stroke it, it’s there. You want to keep making more and more.”
But the jumper has also unfairly labeled him, Rice believes. Some think Rice can only prowl the wing, come off a pick and let fly. They say, “Glen Rice? He’s just a shooter.”
No props. They don’t seem to think of his durability (he’s never missed more than five games in a season, and he’s only missed 17 in his career), the long arms he uses to frustrate opponents defensively or the boggling matchup problems the 6-8 swingman presents virtually every team in the league when he plays two guard.
“There’s always going to be someone out there with a little doubt,” Rice says. “That’s good. It motivates me a great deal. I try and find every negative that people look at, and it gives me that extra push.”
Jealous one’s envy. Reggie Miller gets tripped on for the same deal. No D, can’t take the ball to the hole. What’s the problem? When you can bury threes like Rice, you don’t have to drive. Three is better than two.
“A lot of people doubt me on defense, or they say ‘Glen Rice can’t put the ball on the floor,’” he says. “I keep trying to do different things with the ball. It’s sort of like a crutch when you have a good jump shot. If I’m open, why should I put it on the floor? My first option is the jumper.
“I understand that people see me as a shooter, but I want to get that out of their heads. I want them to be able to see that I can put the ball on the floor and do other things, too.”
With the new-look Hornets, Rice will have little choice but to do those other things this season. The buzz around Hive Drive is that Charlotte will concentrate on playing nasty defense this year.
“We lost Larry Johnson, one of the superstars of the league, in my mind, so people look at our team—new coach, different players—and say that we’re searching for what kind of team we’re going to be, what kind of chemistry we’ll have,” Rice says. “I know they’re wrong.
“Everyone thinks of Orlando, Miami, Indiana and New York in our division. They write the Hornets off. I don’t think they can. But I don’t mind if they do, as long as when they walk off the floor, they think, ‘That was a good team.’ This is going to be a surprising year for us.”
It should be fore Rice, too, with him going hard after his spot among the League’s upper echelon again. But one thing likely is more of the same, as in any year of his hoops career—stroke, arc, swish.