*I wrote this blog on my NBS site for one reason…they are my words and my feelings…nobody has edited a word. I did not seek anyone’s approval. I did not ask for Mike Rice or his family’s approval.
Yesterday it was announced that Mike Rice would become the interim coach at the Patrick School. One of the best high school teams in all of America. It’s a place where stars are born and future NBA players began their journey. For many the Patrick School is the new start to a journey that can change their lives forever. Mike Rice will also start a new journey and all eyes will be upon him. Mike Rice’s fall from grace was played out in front of a entire nation….and it’s exactly the reason I am worried about Mike Rice.
I consider Mike Rice a friend and basketball has zero to do with it. Mike Rice is a friend because of the person he is and that’s exactly why I am worried about him. Let me tell you some things about Mike Rice you will not read in a paper or in interview. Mike Rice cares deeply about people. He thinks everyone can be successful. He honestly in his heart believes every kid can become a better basketball player. He believes every kid can be saved. But the part about Mike Rice that could get him in trouble is this…HE HAS A MARRROW DEEP BELIEF WE CAN ALL DO BETTER….
When Mike Rice joined the Hoop Group family he was put in a office with the most unorganized, sloppiest person on planet earth…ELLONYA “tiny” Green. I am everything Mike Rice is not. When he arrived the first thing he did was clean the office …BY HIMSELF. Then he told me he wanted me to be organized…I laughed, he didn’t. I told Mike I was too old to change. Then I went to run my works outs which included choice words and a combative style. Afterwards Mike grabbed me and said ” Tiny you can be better” I looked at him like he was nuts. Then he said to me “Tiny I can do better and so can you” Truth be told I could care less about what Mike Rice was talking about.
Then as time went on everyday he would say to me “you can do better Tiny”. Then he would sit me down in the office and explain how others found me so hard to get along with. He told me I needed to change. He reminded me why he was no longer coaching at Rutgers. He said he let so many people down who trusted him. I felt sorry for him that day but if the truth be told I wasn’t listening. That is until one day, my daughter said to me on a ride home. “Dad Mike Rice cares so much about you…YOU NEED TO LISTEN TO HIM, he just wants you to be a better person” She was right, Mike Rice has made me a better person and basketball doesn’t have a damm thing to do with it.
I want to tell you a story about Mike Rice. When he was hired at Chicago State his son was born. He was coaching and his wife was working. So his wife asked Mike to find a day care for little Mike. He did in the worst area in Chicago. It was a day care full of low income families…you know that’s a code word for black. You see Mike Rice just doesn’t and can’t believe anyone would care about such things. This is why I worry for Mike Rice, he doesn’t understand that people really do judge others by race. When Mike Rice joined the Hoop Group the first thing he did was ask every kid who walked in the gym “how was school today” and don’t kid yourself he made a point of asking the black kids at risk who he knew didn’t have strong families first. He also would ask kids “what’s your GPA” if a kid said I don’t know. His response was “how you going to college if you don’t know you GPA” Folks this is Mike Rice and he better be careful, now that he has another shot. Because it’s better and smarter these days to mind your own business. Let each kid sink or swim on their own.
When Mike Rice did his first workout at the Hoop Group I was there and my jaw dropped. He was yelling, screaming, pushing kids and coaches with a an edge. One of the players at the event was a young man I coached. After the event I went into the office, I was pissed, I told Mike he was nuts and that I was angry he didn’t give the kid more love. He looked at me and didn’t say a word. Finally he said ” I am just trying to help him”. He then went on to say nobody really believed the kid was good and that all the kid needed was a legitimate chance and he could shine. 7 months later all three of us were laughing. Because in the words of the young man “Coach Rice took the training wheel off me”.
But I’m worried for Mike Rice, because the first time he yells or protest, people will say look he’s is out of control. I tell him to be careful and that I an worried somebody is going to film him. I told him to get every cell phone of every kid when in his locker-room. He says he won’t do it and it’s wrong, I disagree all it takes is one angry player, manager, coach or parent to catch him with his guard down once and its over. His says “Tiny I have been to counseling, I have worked with John Lucas, I have to trust it will all work and I have learned never again to make that mistake” He says these words with such confidence its scary. Every coach at some point is sure to blow up, yell, scream and swear. He says that he knows that some people will never change their opinion of him. He understands anytime a coach loses their cool, his name will surface. But here is something Mike Rice said to me that scares me “Tiny if am going to help any kid basketball player or not, I have to be myself” Mike Rice believes these words…it’s not an act! Nothing scares me more for Mike Rice than this…he doesn’t understand that people like drama not feel good stories.
When Mike Rice was fired at Rutgers, nobody saw the man that was broken. Nobody saw him riding in the car with his daughter Katie and as my daughter said to me, “Dad he is so gentle and loving with her” She didn’t think people knew this side of Mike Rice. I explained to her that people love a Car wreck. But Mike is lucky because his wife Kerry defines what a wife, mother and friend is right down to the core. She had to live with not just her pain and disappoint but everyone else’s pain as well. She had to watch people call her husband a monster. She had to watch her children suffer though every newspaper article, their pro sports hero’s calling there dad an animal, a racist. She knew there where awful words being said directed at her family.
Kerry Rice had to know life for her family would never be that same. Yet she has been her husbands biggest champion. She has been the real warrior in all of this …why? Because this is something that could destroy a marriage, a family and ruin friendships. It didn’t because Kerry Rice wouldn’t let it, she didn’t hide and she didn’t ask her husband or her children to hide, her class and dignity has been nothing short of a thing of beauty…But I’m worried for Mike Rice because people sometimes want other people to suffer and there may be some out there who feel the Mike Rice and his family have not suffered enough. They may want more pain and suffering for the Rice family. But I hope Kerry Rice hears my words…GOD IS GOOD KERRY, AND HE WILL PROTECT YOU AND YOUR FAMILY! That I can promise you….
I was angry when I heard some of the things being said about Mike Rice when he rightfully got fired at Rutgers. He will be the first one to tell you he should have done better. But when people started forming opinions about him who did not know him, that upset me. I had been a college coach for 25 years. People, let me give you some facts; NOBODY HAS SEEN MORE THAN ME. I have seen money given to players, professors change grades, transcripts forged, shady AAU deals, shady coaching deals, lying and stealing and any other thing you may have heard about but have not seen…I HAVE SEEN IT. People name it and I have seen it and I am no angel, I have been on all sides of it. College basketball can be a dirty business. But you know what? Mike Rice has never been accused or involved in such actives. Now me I have been in the middle of all that stuff. But here is a interesting FACT. Almost every year somebody will ask me if I’m interested in coaching again. Figure that one out, but yet Mike Rice hasn’t received one call. This is why I am worried about Mike Rice, because he is getting ready to find out if his friendships have been real over the years or just a business arrangement.
Now if you lost a Million dollar job, wouldn’t you be angry and bitter? Wouldn’t you want payback? When I got fired one thing everyone knew…Duck! because Tiny Green better walk out that door with a smile… or everyone was going to be very famous, and a hell of a lot more famous than Mike Rice is these days. But Mike Rice shows no anger, he has seen current and former coaches take shots at him, players trying to make money off his mistake and has even had wives of coaches take shots at him. These are people who he helped and tried to make life a little better for. Yet he shows no bitterness, he believes he put himself in that position and must take the medicine. This is where me and Mike Rice will never agree, I just don’t get it. Mike Rice has never, ever said a bad word about a single person or blamed anyone for what took place at Rutgers
Let me tell you what Mike Rice talks about that you won’t read anywhere. He talks about how he may have caused an assistant coach his career, he explains how happy he is a former asst. coach is still working, he talks how in his words a “good man” lost his job as an AD protecting him. He talks about his ex-players and how he not only let them down but their families as well. I have seen tears roll down his eyes discussing how he let his wife, kids parents down. Mike Rice is bitter but he is bitter towards one person…himself! I am worried for Mike Rice, because at some point he needs to know…good people love to educate not eliminate, they believe people deserve 2nd chances. THE PATRICK SHOOL KNOWS THEIR VERY LUCKY, but it also time for Mike Rice to remove the heavy baggage he has been carrying around and understand he has over paid his dues!
So Mike Rice will not be around this winter to train boys and girls. We won’t get to see him laughing with 4th and 5th graders. We won’t get to see him hug little girls who love him and won’t start my training session until he gives them a hug. We won’t get to see him making fun of my girls who train so hard to impress him. We won’t get to see how he and Kelly Campbell have bonded and he has become a mentor to her. We won’t get to see the intense Friday workouts he does with his boys. We will miss that every single kid who comes across Mike Rice is affected in a positive way. We will miss laughing behind his back, when he says a kid has a chance to be great, when everyone knows its not true…except him! Every single kid loves Mike Rice because he cares about them and its not phony, its as real as it gets. We will all miss pretending, we don’t know when he lets a kid jump in a training session who has not paid. He has a group of girls he trains, he named them the Unstoppables. They will miss Mike Rice and its not because of the training….its because he loves watching them grow and that my friends is why I am worried about Mike Rice….BECAUSE SOME PEOPLE THAT MATTER MOST… MAY NOT BE WATCHING HIM GROW!
When you go to bed tonight, say a pray for Mike Rice. Not that his team wins a game or that he gets another coaching job. Say a pray asking god to give Mike Rice ALL the happiness and caring that he has given to soooo many others…. to him and his FAMILY. Do what my family did at Thanksgiving…HOLD HANDS AND SAY A PRAY FOR MIKE RICE…HE HAS AT LEAST EARNED THAT FROM US!