Turning 33 can bring many unwanted realities. Sporadic shades of gray growing along the side of your head and you trying to convince yourself it’s just a reflection of light. Feeling you’re still young enough to make a concerted effort to stay in shape until you realize your body, and its rotting metabolism, requires double the cardio to do so. And not to mention the truth in the fact that when you watch basketball nowadays, you’re constantly observing the offspring of players you grew up watching, and in some cases idolizing.
Steph (and Seth) Curry
No lie, this shit is quite scary, and at times it’s really what gets me in my feelings about the reality of aging.
As a writer – and more notably – a fan of the Wizards, that last particular reality isn’t quite a perturbing one. Not when the son of a former player I personally idolized growing up dons the very colors of the team I root for and cover. And especially not when, over the course of the past few months dating back to the beginning of July when the Vegas Summer League kicked off, that particular son of a former player unleashed an element of his game reflecting so much of his father.
For Glen Rice Jr., this season is comprised of many expectations. A a guard position as thin as the Wizards, combined with the loss of their premiere defender, a burning spotlight gleams over Rice, and thus far, he’s shown little, if any fear. The Wizards are in need of someone to step up when Bradley Beal needs to sit, and in bigger need of someone who can guard the ball well. According to John Wall, Rice could fit that defensive role.
But there’s no question Rice needs work. He’s about as raw as it gets for a 23 year old who’s already experienced a rookie campaign that included a demotion to the D-League A demotion, however, that only led him to working his way back into the Wizards lineup and subsequently taking the MVP crown at the 2014 NBA Summer League. Rice attains solid court awareness defensively, but can be shaky handling the ball and sometimes doesn’t space the floor well. Still, it’s a bit early to be too critical.
Before the summer, not much could be told about Rice’s game. We knew the DNA of good shooting were embedded in him, but having played just a total of 109 minutes in 11 games, we weren’t quite sure if it’d ever surface onto the hardwood.
Oh but it did, though.
Freshly moving past the phase of hair twists and a myriad of braid designs, a tapered Glen Rice stormed through Las Vegas with a league-leading 25 points a game to go with just around eight rebounds a game and 2.5 steals. His Summer League campaign helped elevate him as more of a reliable defender but also disclosed a jump shot so improved that I was convinced he had been training with his father and struck by a belt any time he missed a shot.
In the Wizards’ first preseason game against Chicago, Rice proved to us those improvements were carrying over. Again, he is FAR from polished and pretty, but when he’s on the floor, there is a difference made in some capacity and that’s really all you can ask for at this stage of his development.
Rice’s relationship with his father was detailed in an article on mlive.com.
“Being raised by a Flintstone (a.k.a. Flint, MI native) makes you tougher. (My dad) basically tells me to do me and tries to encourage me. He tells me little things and he watches all of the games so he gets to see what I do wrong, what works and he’s just always encouraging. I try my best to implement it in the game.”
And there you have it. Pops watches every one of Junior’s games which explains even more why we may be seeing more and more of him IN Junior’s game.
Pops liked to shoot more off the dribble; something in particular we haven’t seen a lot of from Junior. But Pops also liked to spot up, or pull up off a pass, and sometimes shoot off balance. Now those types of shots we did see from Junior in the Chicago game Monday night, and it was pretty fun to watch, especially in the 4th quarter.
Here’s my favorite. Slightly late getting to a ball passed out to him from the post, gathering himself quickly and squaring up to knock down a 3. Sooo daddylike.
Being old certainly has its perks. Maybe applying ‘jet black’ Just For Men hair color once a month doesn’t fare too bad. Maybe adding a bi-weekly 30-minute session on the elliptical ON TOP of your normal treadmill workouts isn’t so laborious. Wait. Who am I kidding? You’re goddamn right it’s laborious.
But to enjoy a certain player in a different manner than others especially when that player has the propensity to help you relive some of the moments you enjoyed from a player in the past, maybe that part of aging is worthwhile. And with the opportunities that are to be granted to Glen Rice Jr. this season, I’m more than hopeful that will be the case. Not just for my personal pleasure, of course, but for the sake of these Wizards too!