Former rutgers basketball coach mike rice was the talk of college basketball for all the wrong reasons seven months ago when he was fired after video showed him physically and mentally abusing his players during practice. Rice has kept a low profile ever since, but has finally come forward with his side of the story.
jonathan mahler of the new york times followed rice for several months in an effort to discover why the disgraced trainer acted in such an extreme manner. Although Rice expressed a great deal of remorse and took responsibility for his actions, he also never went so far as to call them abusive.
“All I’ve done is fight and scratch and scratch,” Rice said, “and now I have to sit back and accept it, hearing people say I was abusing my players? I was an idiot, but I never abused nobody.”
Reading: Basketball coach fired for abuse
rice is certainly not trying to run away from the fact that he acted inappropriately, but he did suggest that the things that happened in that infamous video happened very infrequently.
“When you look at those moments, they’re ugly moments, there’s no other way to describe them,” he said, adding, “Once in 20 practices isn’t like that every day.”
The 44-year-old Rice is working hard to rehabilitate his image, and while he still seems to have a long way to go in terms of landing another college coaching job, he has kept himself busy running after-school basketball clinics. and coaching his son’s high school team, according to Mahler.
After the release of the highly publicized video, all rice could do was apologize as seen in this tweet and video courtesy of sportscenter.
Some have questioned the sincerity of Rice’s apology, but based on the many conversations he’s had with Mahler, it’s clear that Rice is trying to improve himself as a person.
rice even admitted that deep down he knew his anger was a problem before his time at rutgers. Rice was known as a fierce presence on the sidelines while training at Robert Morris University, but he sometimes went overboard.
“The 1,500 people who attended the games at Robert Morris, I would give them a good show,” Rice said. “If the game was boring, they could just watch me. I looked at myself and thought, gosh, I have to calm down.”
that problem only intensified at rutgers as the games got bigger and more significant, and the pressure mounted.
“You succeed and now you keep building and it gets a little more out of control until it becomes a problem,” he says. “and my problem became a big problem, and I never took the time to analyze how I was doing things. Although people would say things, I don’t hear it. because the intensity is what I was, the intensity is what I knew.”
rice has certainly grown more philosophical since the fallout, and is now waking up to the fact that he set about motivating his team in the worst way possible.
“A good coach leads his team into the water,” Rice said, borrowing a metaphor he learned in anger management counseling. “A great carriage takes them to the water and makes them thirsty. I took them to the water, put their heads in until I was satisfied with how much they drank.”
rice told mahler that he now understands that his motivational tactics backfired, however there is still a touch of defiance and rationalization in his explanation as he mentioned that none of his players stood up to him or put a stop to the behavior. .
“There wasn’t much thought given to why you would throw a ball at someone’s feet as hard as you could. is that going to make it bounce better? probably not. I don’t know what will, but that won’t.” even when rice admits that he was wrong, he says that his players understood that he was just trying to motivate them. “Did any of them blink?” he asked me once. “If they were mad at me, they would have knocked me unconscious. It’s 6-9, 270 pounds.”
Eventually, Rice came to the conclusion that his competitiveness led him to cross boundaries he should never have crossed. While everything Rice did was done with an eye toward making his team perform at the highest level possible, Rice stated that he should not have abandoned the values for that to happen.
“I wish I had been more careful in how I forged them as a team, making them tougher as a unit,” Rice said. “Or maybe just accepting that sometimes you have to accept that you are who you are. Look, we’re not very good, but we’re going to try every day and we’re going to do things right.”
Throughout Mahler’s profile, Rice came across as a humble man who is trying to make up for the mistakes he made at Rutgers. There’s no doubt that Rice wants to get back into training, and if he continues on his current path, it’s certainly possible that someone would be willing to give a rehabilitated Rice a chance.
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