That spring night in Miami, on April 15th, 1995, the rising powerhouse of the Eastern Conference Orlando Magic (55-22), led by the superstar center Shaquille O’Neal walked onto a Miami Arena floor.
But, before they knew it they were caught in the ‘eye of the tropic storm’ named – Glen Rice!
Heat 6’7’’ small forward opened up the game in fashion, with an emphatic breakaway jam. From there it was all spot-up shooting for the player who is considered as one of the 1990s NBA elite shooting specialists.
Soon everybody in Miami Arena was aware that Heat’s franchise player G Money, who scored 14 of his team’s first 21 points on 6-7 shooting, is on fire!
Even with Magic guards Nick Anderson and Donald Royal running through the screens to catch him, and eventually with their hands all across his face, Rice would somehow find the way to launch his patented high-arching jumper and his it almost every single time, with astonishing progression.
G Money scored his 24th point by hitting 4-5 three-point tries. He reached his 34 points by hitting 6-7 threes and 52nd point by hitting 7-8 three-point tries!
To that point, even Magic mighty frontcourt players, such as Shaquille O’Neal and Horace Grant, tried to guard him on the perimeter and stick a hand in his face, but this also didn’t help much the Brian Hill’s team.
Rice concluded the great shooting spectacle with the two free-throws to set a new 1994-95 NBA season-high 56 points, leaving behind him the Bulls’ Michael Jordan with 55 (vs. the Knicks in his Big Apple comeback) and 76ers’ Willie Burton with a 53 points (vs. the Heat) scored in a single game.
That night Rice hit 20-27 field goals, 7-8 shots from beyond the arc and 9-10 shots from behind the charity stripe.
Interestingly enough, Rice scored his previous career-high 46 points on April 11th, 1992 in the same building and against the same opponent – Orlando Magic!
In 1994-95 NBA season 27-year old small forward started all 82 games for the Heat and averaged 22.3 points per game, connecting on his new career-best 187 threes with 41% efficiency, for the team which eventually didn’t reach the 1995 NBA play-off.
Rice will eventually reach his NBA career pinnacle with his new team Charlotte Hornets in 1996-97. That season, 1997 NBA All-Star game MVP averaged 26.8 ppg and shot unbelievable 47.0% from the three-point territory!
Murray A. a.k.a. Marjan Crnogaj is a BN contributor. The 1980s and 1990s basketball specialist is also proud to be the author of the TOP 100 basketball biography ‘Drazen – The Years of the Dragon’ (‘Drazen – Godine Zmaja’) which reveals the yet untold details from the life and career of the legendary NBA shooting guard Drazen Petrovic.
He resides in Zagreb, Croatia, working on his third book which tells the untold story of the 1989 Green Card Five.