Chances are if you have heard of Isaiah JR Rider, it is
probably for the wrong reasons. Instead of his deadly jumpshot or his explosive
dunks, you probably remember a thug who embodied every negative stereotype of a
His nine-year career was filled with run-ins with the law,
coaches, teammates and management.
Even though Isaiah has been out of the NBA since the 2001-02
season (where he had a short stint with the Nuggets), he has gotten a lot of
press as of late.
Rider has been in and out of jail the past two years, and
has been accused or charged with everything from kidnapping to drug possession
to domestic violence.
JRs life hit absolute rock bottom last month when he was
arrested in the Skid Row district in Los Angeles driving a stolen car. It was
reported on TMZ.com last week that there is a $30,000 warrant out for Isaiah
for failing to appear in court for the stolen car incident.
While there havent been too many details released on the
state of Riders life, you can assume two things. One, if he is out there
stealing cars, he has probably lost all of the $30-plus million he has earned
in his NBA career. And two, his life and his state of mind has spiralled way
out of control.
Watching Isaiahs digression is painful to witness. It is
hard to imagine that the mugshots of an overweight, depressed, blood-shot eyed
Isaiah is the same cocky, crazy-talented two guard from a decade ago.
Anybody who has seen the Oakland native play, knows the kind
of player he was and the kind of player he could have been. He was 65 and 215
pounds of pure strength and athleticism. He could score on anybody, and he had
that nobody-can-stop-me swagger about him.
And he could switch it up too. At UNLV and with the
Timberwolves, a young, explosive JR could take anyone off the dribble and he
could bang down a dunk on your face. Who could forget the 1994 Slam Dunk
Contest, where Rider did that between-the-legs dunk [the East Bay Funk Dunk] to
win it all?
When he was with Portland
and Atlanta, he
had that post-up game. I remember him in the 99 playoffs where he led the
Blazers to the Western Finals and just dominated every two-guard in his way
from Rex Chapman to Jeff Hornacek to Sean Elliott.
Unfortunately his bad attitude, legal troubles and
unprofessionalism (tardiness to games) caught up to JR as he finished his
career with short one-year stints with Atlanta, the Lakers and Denver before disappearing
There is no doubt that if Isaiah had it all together he
would have been an All Star at least three or four times. He could have made a
lot more money and he could have left a legacy that would made him one of the
best players to come out of the Bay Area ever.
But Isaiah could never shake the street life, and he never
appreciated the God given ability that he was blessed with.
Whatever shortcomings that have happened to him in the NBA
is irrelevant. You just hope that he gets his life together. The last thing you
want is Isaiah to reach the same fate as the late Eddie Griffin.
I remember as a kid, rooting for Rider to succeed. This time
around, Im rooting even harder.