As former Houston Rockets forward Glen Rice made an appearance in the latest episode of The Last Dance, let’s revisit his Rockets career.
To say ESPN’s docu-series The Last Dance has captured our attention would be a major understatement, as we’ve become addicted to watching the Michael Jordan-produced film. In fact, the docu-series has averaged 5.8 million viewers prior to Sunday’s most recent episodes, which has been an ESPN record. The film hasn’t been kind to the Houston Rockets, however, as the popular belief was that the New York Knicks were the biggest threat to Jordan’s Bulls, although the numbers tell a different story.
The latest episodes were further proof, as they focused on the Bulls teams of 1993-94 and 1994-95, which were both seasons in which the Rockets won the title. But the most recent installment had Rockets ties to it, as Glen Rice was featured to speak on behalf of his former Charlotte Hornets.
Rice and the Hornets faced Jordan’s Bulls during the 1998 Eastern Conference Semifinals, but were eliminated within five games. The sharpshooter would later join the Rockets prior to the 2001-02 season, which many believed would allow the Rockets to have a true small forward, as opposed to Shandon Anderson, who was viewed as more of a shooting guard.
The Rockets made a run at Rice when they were shopping Scottie Pippen to the Los Angeles Lakers, which would’ve reunited Pippen with Phil Jackson, but the Lakers weren’t interested in Pippen’s albatross of a contract. Rice’s first year in the Space City was by far one of his worst seasons up to that point, as he averaged his fewest points leading up to that season (8.6) and a horrid field goal percentage of 38.9 percent.
Rice also battled injuries, which limited him to just 20 games in year one of his Houston Rockets days. The Rockets won just 28 games during that 2001-02 season, but the silver lining was that it led to the lottery pick the Rockets needed to select Yao Ming.
With Yao and a healthy Glen Rice during the 2002-03 season, the Rockets’ fortunes improved significantly, as they went 43-39. Rice displayed the shooting touch that made him a three-time All-Star, as he made 39.8 percent of his triples, which led the Rockets that season, and was tied for 14th-best in the league.
But the Rockets still missed the postseason, as the Phoenix Suns stole the eighth spot in the Western Conference with a 44-38 record. At the end of the season, the Rockets made sweeping changes, which included trading Rice to the Utah Jazz for John Amaechi and a second round draft pick.
The Rockets also ushered in Jeff Van Gundy to replace legendary coach Rudy Tomjanovich, who would later be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame. Although Rice briefly played with the Rockets, he flashed the long-range shooting ability that the Rockets valued in Rudy T’s system.