To Mr. Arison, Mr. Riley, The Miami Heat Fanbase, and Whomever Else It May Concern,
There is something that is amiss in the rafters of the American Airlines Arena. It’s not championship banners. We have earned two of those, and thanks to what is perhaps the best ownership, and front office in the NBA we have been able to harness a wealth of talent that promises to not only add more championship prestige, but which figures to be something that will be spoken about with a folkloric feel amongst generations of fans to come. There is a legacy that deserves to be preserved in the rafters for a man who left an indelible mark on the organization, and who continues to be loved by fans. It has been 18 years since Glen Rice has played with the Miami Heat, and there are only three players who have spent more time in a Heat uniform: Dwyane Wade, Udonis Haslem, and Alonzo Mourning. Those same three players, and Heat assistant coach Keith Askins, are the only players to play more games than G-Money. Rice played 121 more games than Tim Hardaway who was the second player to have his number retired by the team. In fact, he holds a high rank in many of the Heat’s more prestigious categories. He is second in field goals made, and only to Dwyane Wade, whose own number will no doubt be raised one day. On the NBA’s list of all-time leading scorers Rice places at 59th overall in front of Hall of Famer Dave Bing, and right behind another HOFer, and basketball legend Julius Erving. He has the third most points in Heat history. The point sum that he amassed for the Heat franchise totals at 9,248 and is another area in which eclipses Miami great, Tim Hardaway, and he outscores him by nearly 2,900 points. He is behind only the aforementioned Wade, and Heat Vice President Alonzo Mourning, who are both Heat icons. Part of what helped Rice to his high Heat point total is the fact that he is third in three-pointers made, and is behind only Timmy, and Eddie Jones (who he trails by just four three-pointers). In terms of points per game he is alone with the other Heat elite company of Wade, Shaquille O’Neal, and Lebron James. Notching 83.5% from the free throw line is the second highest mark for a Heat player’s career behind Jason Williams (2006-2008). He is also third in steals, fifth in made free throws, seventh in total rebounds, and ninth in assists.
This is not a plea to hang banners just to hang banners. Cleveland did that when they retired Nate Thurmond’s number because he spent his last two seasons as a Cavalier, and while his play for them was mediocre at best they raised a banner for him to honor his brilliant career even though it preceded his tenure with them. No, this would be more like the Celtic’s honoring Dennis Johnson, or Jo Jo White. It would be like the Bulls retiring Bob Love’s number. These are men with comparable numbers to Glen’s, who played for some of the game’s most storied franchises, and, like Rice they did not play for one team for the entirety of their careers. The fact that he wasn’t a Heat lifer does not detract from the fact that Glen is a Heat legend. Like Zo, and like Timmy, he too is a Heat icon. It’s coming up on eighteen years since Rice helped the Heat to thwart the in-state rival Orlando team in front of a Miami Arena crowd. That day he scorched the Magic for what is still a Heat record for points in a single game with 56. Incredibly he achieved this on 74% shooting while making an exceptional seven out of eight shots from behind the three-point arc. Glen was also a key player for Miami on a March night in 1993 when he helped the franchise obtain its first ever win against the Chicago Bulls who were lead by Michael Jordan, and at a time in which they were on their way to capture their third consecutive championship. Rice was part of another Miami milestone as a member of the team that earned the Heat their first playoff victory in a game over the Atlanta Hawks in 1994.
Rice’s numbers continue to hold firm in the pantheon of Heat greatness while being nearly two decades removed from him donning a Miami jersey which is a great testament to him, but that in and of itself doesn’t seem to do him fair justice. I understand the reasons as to why there may be some timidity in seeing this show of appreciation come to fruition. Glen being traded for Alonzo was a pivotal moment in Miami Heat history. It was a trade involving two great players. I can remember having bittersweet emotions the morning that I woke up to read the headline on the Miami Herald: Wake Up, It’s Mourning. I was ecstatic because already at that time, Alonzo was clearly a powerhouse, and then of course over time he would prove to be the foundation of which we built a formidable team around. I remember the feelings of jubilation, and I also remember them being quelled when further reading revealed who we had to part with to procure the great talent of Mourning. We had to part with a star that we watched develop. After leaving us he would go on to be an All-Star, and an All-Star Game MVP, and then eventually an NBA champion. Before joining us he experienced championship success on the collegiate level as well at the University of Michigan. Glen was a significant part of Miami Heat history, and there are few others who will ever be more deserving of such a tribute. No one else in Heat history has worn number 41, and no one else should.
With Much Sincerity,
Statistics used found on Basketball-Reference.com
My stupidly insanely amazing brother wrote this article about why Glen Rice’s jersey should get retired from the Miami Heat.
Not only is this an incredible article, but it was sent to Glen today, and he wrote back the most incredible response. Such an incredible man.