The trade almost fell apart because Rice feared his scoring opportunities would diminish with L.A., reducing his value as a free agent. But the deal was finally consummated, according to Rice's agent, David Falk, when the Lakers agreed to ignore the 1999-2000 option year of the contract Rice had signed with the Hornets.During his first partial season in L.A. -- the crappy crap lockout year -- Rice got enough shots (14.7 per) to average 17.5 points while knocking down 39 percent of his treys. Unfortunately, the Lakers were swept out of the playoffs by the Spurs. And things went downhill from there.
Falk says Los Angeles owner Jerry Buss informed him an hour before the 1999 draft that the Lakers would pick up Rice's option year, and under the terms of the contract they paid him $7 million last season. "Glen had had an operation [to his right elbow, in January 1999], and we wanted to see him play before we made any commitment," says Buss.From that point, it became a war of words. Rice and his agent insisted that Buss had lied to him and thereby cost him countless millions, while Buss maintained he had never promised Rice anything. Meanwhile, some rumors had it that the Rice fiasco played a big part in West's decision to retire from the Lakers' organization. (Other rumors had it that Falk started those rumors.)
Rice had ended his interview session with these words: "If people don't think I can be out there doing things to get this team a win, then ... I shouldn't be here."But it didn't end there. Oh no. After that, Rice's wife got involved.
An NBA public relations official quickly ended the interview, hustling Rice away after he had spent the better part of 15 minutes explaining his frustration with being benched and offering insight into his less-than-rosy relationship with Jackson.
Meanwhile, beneath the stands at Conseco Fieldhouse, Jackson was sounding like another coach from down the road in Bloomington as he explained why he and Rice were supposedly on the same page.
"I play whom I want to play when I want to play them, and how they play and what I think is best for the team. That's it," Jackson said.
The Rice controversy is "not a distraction to us," Jackson said. "That's nothing to us."
Rice didn't agree, admitting "it plays with your head a little bit."
He was asked: Had he talked to Jackson about it?
"No, I have not."
Did he plan to talk to Jackson about it?
"No, I do not."
What harm would it do to simply discuss it with the coach?
"I've been down that road before. The best way is to go out there and let my actions speak for themselves."
In an article published Tuesday in the Los Angeles Times, she claimed Rice was being used as a pawn by Jackson in his dealings with Lakers owner Jerry Buss and team president Jerry West.That's right. Mrs. Rice inferred she would have choked Jackson down had she been her husband. And...Mr. Rice backed his wife.
"Jackson has never wanted Glen, he's always wanted somebody like Scottie Pippen, and this is his way of getting back at management for not letting him make a trade," she said. "This is Jackson's way of showing the people on top of him who is in control. It's crazy.
"It's all a mind game. It's all about control. Jackson did not get his way with the general manager or the owner about trading Glen, so who pays for it? Glen does."
Rice's wife, Christina Fernandez Rice, said she has counseled her husband to keep quiet about the situation until she thought it was hurting the team.
"How many players would have stayed as quiet for as long as Glen has? But finally, when the team is affected, you have to say something," she said. "Now if it was me, I would have already been Latrell Sprewell II."
Asked about his wife's comments, Rice said he agreed with them.Holy fuck. But wait, there's more.
"Definitely. Why not?" he said.
Rice admitted he would not be 100 percent focused in Game 4 but said he would dedicate himself to addressing the deficiency in his game that Jackson said was the reason he removed Rice in favor of Fox in Game 3.Oy.
"I'm going to come out and be very aggressive on the defensive end," Rice said. "If I get beat, I never claimed I was the best defensive player on this team individually. Jalen's a great player, and when I get beat I expect the help to be there."
That's right, Rice said "when" he gets beat.
"I was unhappy with the Lakers and things were so bent out of shape," Rice said. "When I was first traded to L.A. from Charlotte two years ago, I knew right away the big thing was they had Shaq and Kobe. I was coming off the best three years of my career, so I was not trying to slow down. I knew I had to sacrifice but I didn't know I had to sacrifice so much and sometimes be the only one sacrificing."Rice "lit it up" in New York for exactly one season, averaging 12 points as (once again) the third option behind Sprewell and Allan Houston. After that, he was traded to the Rockets for one last shot at being a first option. Unfortunately, plantar fasciitis and a partially torn tendon in his knee ruined his two seasons in Houston. During the 2003-04 season, Rice finished his career by playing 18 games as...a Los Angeles Clipper. His final game was a seven-minute, zero-point "effort" in a one-point loss to the Memphis Grizzlies.
Rice said Lakers Coach Phil Jackson listened to him but would not talk to him. He said the Lakers' owner, Jerry Buss, lied to him about his contractual situation. Rice was used sparingly as the Lakers rolled last season.
The ring, indeed, is his, but somehow its circle is not complete.
"Being traded here gave me a chance to show some new things and play in a place I've always loved," Rice said. "I've had great games in the Garden before and I love the rims here. Some people here have told me now I get the chance to light it up for the home team instead of against them."
Labels: Worst NBA Champions