|NBA draft||1962 / Round: 8 / Pick: 64th overall|
|Selected by the Detroit Pistons|
Michael Thomas Rice Sr. is a former National Basketball Association color commentator, one half of the Portland Trail Blazers' television broadcasting team. A former player and coach, he is the only broadcaster ejected from an NBA game.
A basketball player at Duquesne University, Rice earned an All-American honorable mention selection his senior year, leading his Dukes to the 1962 NIT tournament. During the semifinals in which Duquesne was defeated by the St. John's Red Storm Rice became involved in a fight with Donnie Burks that lasted at least a minute. As spectators at Madison Square Garden became involved it was broken up by the New York City Police Department. No one was injured and the referees did not call fouls on either Rice or Burks. The Associated Press described the event as a "lively brawl".
Although the NBA was calling and the Detroit Pistons selected him in the eighth round of the 1962 NBA draft, Rice decided that his skills could be better utilized from an educational standpoint and opted for a career in coaching.
Rice coached for 13 years at the high school level, posting a career record of 245-71, before moving to college coaching in 1977 when he accepted a position as an assistant coach at Duquesne. He was named the head coach of Duquesne for the 1978-79 season and over his four-year tenure he amassed a record of 62-49, garnering two berths in the National Invitation Tournament and twice being named Eastern Eight Coach of the Year.
Rice then moved to Youngstown State University, where he coached for five years, from 1982-83 through 1986-87. During this period the Penguins twice finished second in the Ohio Valley Conference, peaking with a high of 19 victories in the 1984-85 season. The team amassed 75 wins against 67 losses during the Mike Rice years.
During his final season at Youngstown State, Rice was instrumental in reviving the Greater YSU Holiday Classic basketball tournament, an event which continued annually through the 1991-92 season.
Rice moved from coaching to broadcasting for the 1987-88 season when he took a job working for ESPN as a college basketball analyst. Rice worked games as primary analyst for the Western Athletic Conference. From 1989 he also worked with SportsChannel America as its primary analyst for World Basketball League broadcasts.
Rice moved to the team-owned broadcasting operations of the Portland Trail Blazers in 1991. Rice was chosen by longtime voice of the Blazers Bill Schonely following a four-person tryout at the Blazers' 1991 Slam 'n' Jam held at Civic Stadium, organized by Blazer team president Marshall Glickman. Rice bested former Oregon State University guard Mark Radford, ex-Blazers assistant coach Jack McKinney, and retired NBA referee Earl Strom in the tryout, which gave each a quarter of the game to work alongside Schonely.
Known affectionately as "The Wild One", Rice has been referred to by journalist Kerry Eggers as "part basketball expert, part entertainer, 100 percent character." Echoing these sentiments, Blazer television producer Scott Zachary has likened him to a "favorite uncle" and publicly pronounced him "a goofy dude."
Rice himself acknowledges a propensity for blurting out sentiments that more circumspect announcers would tend to internally filter. "I don't give a damn about a lot of things. Later on, I think back, 'Now why'd I do that?'" he has said. This tendency to be what former broadcast partner Eddie Doucette has characterized as a "loose cannon," combined with his unabashed "homerism", has made Rice a figure of some controversy.
Rice's outspoken demeanor resulted in one of the events for which he is best known, his 1994 ejection from an NBA game while working a radio broadcast. As Rice tells the story:
"At the time, Steve Javie, the official, was a young official. That previous week he had kicked out a mascot, a fan, and kicked somebody else out, a trainer or something like that. He was on a roll that week, he had made a call, and I looked on the monitor and saw it was a bad call on Cliff Robinson. I kind of put my hands like that [two hands waved at the official] and he ran over. Cliff thought he was going to call a technical on him, because Cliff was standing there doing the same thing. He ran by Cliff and that's when he kicked me out of the game -- the rest is history."
Rice added that he subsequently wrote an article for Rip City magazine charging Javie with an abuse of power. "I think he...read that and we have not talked since", he noted in a 2009 interview.
Rice's wife Kathy is a former Duquesne basketball player. The couple have two daughters, Susan and Stephanie, both graduates of Syracuse University, and a son, Mike Rice, Jr., who was the head basketball coach at Robert Morris University before moving to the same position at Rutgers University in May 2010. Mike Rice, Jr. was fired by Rutgers on April 3, 2013.
Despite nine surgeries on his right knee, Mike Rice, Sr. remains an avid golfer, sporting a 6 handicap. He frequently brought his golf clubs when he traveled with the team and plays whenever possible. He also plays tennis several times a week.
Rice, a successful collegiate and high school basketball coach, concludes 26 years with the Trail Blazers organization, including 11 years on-air as television color commentator.