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Fans Give Rice Warm Welcome

October 16, 2003|Jerry Crowe | Times Staff Writer

After sitting out Tuesday night's game, his first since signing with the Clippers, Glen Rice is expected to play against the Phoenix Suns today in an exhibition at Staples Center.

Though he went unused Tuesday, Rice did not go unnoticed.

In the fourth quarter of the Clippers' 128-107 victory over the Dallas Mavericks at Staples Center, fans began chanting his name, urging Coach Mike Dunleavy to put him into the game. Seated on the bench, Rice beamed.

"Wasn't that great?" he said Wednesday. "It was a great feeling. When you get fans chanting your name like that it's extra special, and you want to go out there and do something extra special for them as well."

Rice encountered a far different reception three years ago, when the 6-foot-8 swingman returned to Staples Center for the first time after being traded from the Lakers to the New York Knicks in a sign-and-trade deal.

Then, in a game against the Clippers, he was roundly booed.

Though he had helped the Lakers to the first of three consecutive NBA championships in June 2000, Rice was not fondly remembered, apparently owing to his wife Cristina's ill-timed public criticism of Laker Coach Phil Jackson during the finals against the Indiana Pacers.

"It was a surprise," he said this week of the booing. "I didn't really understand why. When I left the Lakers, it wasn't by choice. They didn't offer me anything. They pretty much just turned me loose, which was fine. It was their choice."

Rice said the message Tuesday came in loud and clear.

"You'd be lying if you said you didn't hear that," he said, smiling. "I heard it, and I want them to know it did not go unappreciated."


While scoring a game-high 20 points on seven-of-eight shooting, Elton Brand suffered a sprained left ankle Tuesday night. He rode a stationary bike during Wednesday's practice and is doubtful for today's game, but the injury is not believed to be serious.


After a week at Palm Desert and another practicing at Staples Center, the Clippers have settled back into their regular practice site at L.A. Southwest College, where they have a lease through the end of next season.

However, they will continue to explore alternatives, among them the Home Depot Center in Carson, where the Anschutz Entertainment Group is considering building a gym, and Dunleavy will continue lobbying them to get a deal done.

The Clippers are one of only four NBA teams that do not have their own practice facility.

Of the advantage of having a self-contained practice site, such as the Laker facility at HealthSouth Training Center in El Segundo, Dunleavy said, "Ultimately, if you have your own place, have your own offices, your weight room there -- the whole bit -- you get your guys there a lot, hanging with each other. They get to know each other better, create better relationships."

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