The 'nique Time Machine: Glen Rice
Imagine a time machine with the sole purpose of taking a basketball player from their era, and placing them in a time where their game would flourish. Not talking about time shifting superstars, it’s too easy to imagine Michael Jordan, in an era without hand-checking and hard fouls, dominating even more than he did in the early 90’s. We’re talking the borderline stars, great role players or ballers who were underrated in their day. Conversely, this isn’t about easy solves either - no DeMar DeRozan to 1988 when the mid-range game was at its peak, though we wonder how he would fare against those hard fouls. So now that you know the ground rules, let’s punch in the coordinates and fire up the ‘nique time machine, for our first player from days gone by.
Glen Rice was a 15-year vet from 1989-2004. The 6’7” forward was an NBA Champion, three-time All-Star, All-Star Game MVP and a Three-Point Shootout Champion, which is most important, as his skills beyond the arc are what set him apart, and likely ahead of his time.
Growing up, he would stay out late at night into the dark in the playground shooting. His logic was that if he could make buckets when he could barely see the ball, it would be much easier to visualize it through the net, in a gym with the lights on. Shooting is based on touch and feel, and Rice got that down so well, it’s been said he could make 3-pointers with his eyes closed - not that you want that in a game, but he was doing that during warm-ups! This isn’t a myth or urban legend, it happened, his teammates would testify in court to this.
In a time when the NBA was only beginning to realize how important a weapon the 3-pointer could be to space out the floor, Rice was proving it wasn’t a gimmick. During the 1996-97 season, he went 207-for-440 from distance, to lead the league with a .470 percentage, averaging 26.8 point per game on 5.6 3-point attempts per game. Only one player sits ahead of him on the all-time 3-point list that came into the game before him, (Dale Ellis), otherwise all the shooters benefit from a game that welcomed the money ball. Can you imagine Rice shooting in the flow of a 2020 Houston Rockets offense, where they jack up 44.3 three-point attempts per game?
Rice had the stroke and release to create space and get his shot off when he wanted. If he was perched at the 3-point line, defenders rushed to close out, and he was a big body, strong enough to finish with contact off the bounce. He was a walking bucket in his prime.
If you argue that Rice was just a scorer, that’s a fair assessment, but compare him to Carmelo Anthony, who fits the same mold, and Rice is a more efficient shooter.
Rice/Melo Career Shooting Comparison: FG% .456/.449 3-PT % .400/.347 FT % .846/.811.
In today’s game, Rice would shoot the three and score better than 80% of the forwards in the league, he’d be even deadlier than Milwaukee's two-time NBA All-Star Khris Middleton. Adding a player of Rice’s caliber to the Pacers, Nuggets or Spurs immediately changes their outlook, while putting him on weaker teams like the Hawks, Timberwolves or Suns will have him posting video game numbers.
If we could get this 'nique time machine to work, Glen Rice would be a top five shooter in the league. He couldn't shoot his way into the Naismith Hall of Fame, despite winning an NCAA and an NBA championship. But there’s no question if he came in the league in 2009 as opposed to 1989, he would have his spot in Springfield, Massachusetts.