Sure Shot

by May 28, 2012

Today is Glen Rice’s 45th birthday. Rice, a three-time All-Star, finished his career as a 40 percent 3-point shooter, and hit 1,559 of them, good for 11th all time. To honor the birthday of one of the game’s greatest shooters, here’s a feature on Rice from SLAM 15 in February ’97. (It also happens to be Jerry West’s birthday; if you want to read a great story on The Logo, who is now 74, check out this interview that Alan Paul did with West for SLAM 20.) Enjoy!—Ed.

by Anthony McCarron / @AnthonyMcCarron

Glen Rice is on the phone, talkin’ about his J and how he’s always considered it a gift. In the background, a loud, screeching noise interrupts chatter about stroke, arc and swish.

Yo, Glen, what’s up?

“Oh, that,” he says with a laugh. “We’re packing. I’m just taping some boxes up. As we speak, I’m finishing up.”

Forgive him, but that man is moving, and in more ways that one. The 29-year-old Hornets swingman sold his house in Miami during the off-season and will become a permanent resident of Charlotte. The closer to Hive Drive, he says, the better. Rice, a big part of the Zo trade, is finally leaving Florida.

That was the first of his two planned moves.

Rice also wants to become a permanent resident of the NBA’s elite. See, he played in his first-ever ALL-Star Game last season, and, well, he kinda liked it.

“I don’t want to be one of those guys who gets one selection and then never goes back,” Rice says. “I want to be there every year. I don’t want to leave a doubt in anyone’s mind. If I do, it’s no one’s fault but mine.

“It was a big thrill to play in that game with guys like Jordan and Barkley. You say, ‘OK, this weekend I’m considered one the best players in the NBA.’ I wanna cherish that memory, but also add to it.”

That shouldn’t be a problem. Rice loves to gun, and with Zo in Miami and LJ in NYC, all of a sudden he’s got the green light. Every  night. And the All-Star Game just made him hungrier. “Making that team was a big confidence booster, because I knew that all  my hard work had finally paid off,” he says.

Confidence booster? Man, Glen Rice needs more confidence like Mike needs more Air Jordans, like Oliver Miller needs more donuts. Call it the confidence that’s common among the great shooters—Glen Rice has got it. That’s what he feels when he hits a few bombs—his eyes glaze over, his fingers twitch and all he wants to do is make the net sizzle. It’s what helps him put up 20 a night, hit the floor for loose balls and want the rock when the clock is ticking down.

So get ready. Rice is poised to blow up even more this season than he did last year, when he led Charlotte with 21.6 points per game (12th in the League). Thank the All-Star nod and his win in the NBA three-point shootout two years ago.

“His self confidence skyrocketed when he won that shootout, and I think that carried over into his overall confidence last season,” says Hornets assistant coach Lee Rose. “He will come into this season with high expectation of himself, and we all look forward to seeing him be a leader on this team. He’s a major piece in the foundation of this team.”

High expectations and soaring confidence are a bad combo for the Hornet opponents. The fact that he’ll be the go-to guy only makes it worse. Ask anyone—once Rice gets it going on, he’s not only one of the League’s deadliest scorers, he’s one of the biggest trash-talkers. Better yet, ask Rice. Some guys deny their on-court verbosity—Rice revels in in.

“Yeah, if a guy can’t check me, I’ll let him know I’m burning him up,” Rice says with a chuckle. “I tell him to get off the floor and try being a coach, ’cause he’s not doing much good on the court. It’s all fun, but it fires you up and it fires your teammates up. When I scored 56 points (against Orlando in ’95), my teammates were saying ‘We’ve got to get you the ball,’ and talking mess to the guys guarding me.”

Add this to Rice’s confidence mix: Recent comparisons to Hall of Famer George Gervin.