You may remember Isaiah Rider from such hits as “Grand Theft Auto-Los Angeles,” How To Kidnap a Female Acquaintance Without Really Trying”, and “J.R. Rider And The Series Of Unfortunate Felony Cocaine Possession Arrests.” And of course there’s much more, including my favorite, milkshake assault (see No. 9).
But at one time Rider was also one of the baddest players ever; a thing that some tend to forget. He was a second-team All-American as a senior at UNLV in 1993, averaged 16.7 points per game over a nine-year NBA career, and was author of the East Bay Funk Dunk, the now often-imitated move at the 1994 NBA Slam Dunk Competition which Charles Barkley called “the best dunk I’ve ever seen.”
Well get ready for more fun, because Rider is making a comeback.
Rider, 38, has signed with the North Texas Fresh of the American Basketball Association, a team that plays its home games at Keller Central High School in Fort Worth (Breakfast with Santa is Dec. 12!).
Sixteen years ago, Rider was the fifth overall pick of the NBA draft, a promising rookie for the Minnesota Timberwolves who would go on to win the All-Star dunk contest. Nearly two decades of self-inflicted drama and personal pain – including several arrests and a 3½-month stay in jail – have now dropped Rider to the low minor leagues, desperate to revive his career and rewrite a different ending to his troubled story.
“I still have it in me,” Rider told Yahoo! Sports. “I still have something left in the tank. It’s still in my blood. My juices still flow.
“I know I can still ball.”
Rider’s last full season in the NBA was with the Denver Nuggets in 2001, but he was waived after 10 games, primarily because he had trouble showing up to practices on time. A series of arrests and legal troubles followed. Now he says he’s getting his life back on track, and his goal is to get a contract to play professionally overseas.
But he can’t do that until he proves he can stay on the straight and narrow in the ABA. I, for one, wish him luck: I’d like to see that dunk again.