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Isaiah Rider

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Isaiah "J.R." Rider (born March 12, 1971 in Oakland, California) is a former NBA basketball player, who played from 1993–2002.

The 6'5" (1.96 m) Rider attended two junior colleges before finding a home at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, where he garnered 2nd-Team All-American honors as a senior. He was also arrested once during his stay ay UNLV, spending a night in jail after an incident in which he abused a worker at a campus Jack in the Box restaurant and threw a milkshake into the restaurant's drive-through window. [1] UNLV's basketball team under coach Jerry Tarkanian had already acquired a reputation as a program with disciplinary issues well before Rider's run-in with the law, and after his arrest Rider was often held up as the poster child for the character issues that many felt were running rampant in Tarkanian's program. [2]

Despite the questions surrounding his character, though, Rider was taken by the Minnesota Timberwolves with the 5th pick in the 1993 NBA Draft. As a rookie, Rider took the league by storm, tallying three 30-point games in December 1993, winning the All-Star Slam Dunk Contest in February 1994 with a spectacular between-the-legs jam, which he titled the "East Bay Funk Dunk" (Charles Barkley called it the best dunk he had ever seen), and finishing the 1993-94 season as a member of the NBA's All-Rookie Team.

In his second season, Rider continued to display the scoring flair that earned him praise the year prior, but resumed the type of troubling off-court behavior that would ultimately de-rail his entire career. Though he was among the NBA's leaders in scoring at 20.4 ppg in 94-95, Rider feuded with Minnesota coach Bill Blair throughout the year, leading to a December suspension. In this year, he completed a notable play: He jumped to save a ball from going out of bounds, flung it wildly onto the court where it then jumped up and made a basket. This won the 1995 ESPN Espy award for best NBA play. In 1995-96, Rider's play slipped slightly, but he regardless continued his insubordination toward Timberwolves management, prompting Minnesota to deal him to Portland after the season in exchange for practically nothing.

On a deep Portland Trail Blazers team, Rider's scoring dipped to new lows, but the team enjoyed a modicum of success. Rider (who inexplicably took to calling himself "Isaiah" again upon his arrival in Portland) also toned down his off-court act slightly in his three seasons in the Rose City, though he was not a model citizen, either. Still, the Atlanta Hawks felt Rider was the missing piece in their puzzle after the 1998-99 season, and so they sent Steve Smith to the Blazers for Rider and Jim Jackson, another talent who had not quite reached his potential. The trade would quickly prove to be the worst in Hawks history, though, and it ultimately contributed to the firings of then-coach Lenny Wilkens and General Manager Pete Babcock. Rider was quite good on the floor, pacing the Hawks in scoring. However, his off-court incidents exploded: arrests, quarrels with management, parking in the reserved space at Philips Arena belonging to the Atlanta Thrashers' Head Coach, missing practices, etc. By March 2000, the Hawks had had enough. They waived Rider, and he spent the rest of the year waiting for another team to sign him.

The next stop on the Isaiah Rider tour was the home of the defending champions, Los Angeles. Phil Jackson inked Rider as an experiment, as much in his own ability to keep questionable characters (such as, previously, Dennis Rodman) in line as in Rider's ability to contribute points. In the end, Rider behaved relatively well, and was rewarded with his first championship ring. His play, however, was terrible, and it looked like Rider's career was finally over.

Prior to the 2001-02 season, the Denver Nuggets decided that Rider might be worth the trouble if he could resuscitate their moribund offense, but Rider's stay in the Mile High City was limited to just 10 games, as it became painfully obvious that Rider no longer could play at an NBA level. Rider refused to term it "retirement" at the time, however, insisting that he could still play if given the chance. More than four years later, though, Rider's number has yet to be called by an NBA GM, and it seems as though his checkered career is finally over.

On January 26, 2006, Rider was arrested by Marin County (California) sheriff's deputies on charges of kidnapping a female acquaintance. Rider was being held on $2 million bail at Marin County Jail on charges of kidnapping and battery.

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Isaiah Rider

Position: Shooting Guard/Small Forward

Team: Free Agent

Uniform Number:

Years in League:


Nickname: "J.R."



College: UNLV


Drafted By:

NBA Debut:


Date of Birth:

Place of Birth:

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