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Isaiah Rider, Jr., sometimes known as J.R. Rider (born March 12, 1971), is an Americanmarker professional basketball player.

Rider was born in Oakland, Californiamarker, and was raised in nearby Alamedamarker. He starred in both baseball and basketball at Encinal High Schoolmarker before going on to a college career with the University of Nevada, Las Vegasmarker and a professional career in the National Basketball Association.

Early life and college career

The 6'5" (1.96 m) Rider attended two junior colleges, including Allen County Community College in Iola, Kansasmarker, before finding a home at the University of Nevada, Las Vegasmarker, where he garnered 2nd-Team All-American honors as a senior. He was also arrested once during his stay at UNLV, spending a night in jail after an incident in which he abused a worker at a campus Jack in the Box and threw a milkshake into the restaurant's drive-through window. 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.

NBA career

Minnesota Timberwolves

A rising star in Minnesota

Despite the questions surrounding his character, Rider was taken by the Minnesota Timberwolves with the 5th pick in the 1993 NBA Draft. He began calling himself "Isaiah" after being known as "J.R." through college. As a harbinger of things to come, he was late for his first practice with the Timberwolves. However, he took the league by storm in his rookie year, 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" (veteran All-Star 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 First Team.

In his second season, Rider continued to display the scoring flair that earned him praise the year prior, but also 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. Rider did win the 1995 ESPN ESPY Award for best NBA play, however: during a December game against the Sacramento Kings, Rider jumped to save a ball from going out of bounds, flinging it blindly towards the general vicinity of the basket... and it somehow went in, completing what T-Wolves announcer Tom Hanneman would term the "Play of the Decade". But aside from that brief flash of brilliance, Rider's 1995 would mainly be characterized by his attitude and clashes with authority.

Fall-out with the Timberwolves

In 1995-96, Rider's play slipped slightly, although he had a game where he set the record for most rebounds by a Wolves guard in one game with 15 (beaten by Randy Foye who had 16 in a game on Dec 23, 2008). However, Rider continued his insubordination toward Timberwolves management. He also got in trouble off the court; he kicked the female manager of a sports bar and was ultimately convicted of fifth-degree assault. Minnesota finally had enough, and dealt him to Portland after the season. In return for Rider, the T-Wolves received Bill Curley, James Robinson and a conditional first round draft pick in 1997 or 1998 (which apparently wasn't used, as the Timberwolves picked Paul Grant in 1997 and Radoslav Nesterovic in 1998, without getting a pick from Portland, who didn't have any). Just before the trade, he was arrested for marijuana possession. At the time of his arrest, he also had an illegal cell phone; it had been altered to charge calls to someone else's bill. He was later convicted of misdemeanor marijuana possession, and pleaded no contest to possessing the illegal cell phone. Three weeks later, he was arrested for gambling in public back in Oakland.

NBA journeyman

Portland Trail Blazers

On a deep Portland team, Rider's scoring dipped to new lows, but the team enjoyed a modicum of success. Rider (who inexplicably took to calling himself "J.R." 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 exactly a model citizen, either. On October 30, 1996 he was cited for and subsequently convicted of possession of less than an ounce of marijuana. He also was suspended for a total of 12 games in three years, including a three-game suspension for spitting at a heckler.

Trouble in Atlanta

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. But while Rider was passable on the floor, pacing the Hawks in scoring, his off-court incidents exploded in Atlanta: arrests, quarrels with management, parking in the reserved space at Philips Arenamarker belonging to Atlanta Thrashers head coach Curt Fraser, missing practices, etc. After reports that he'd smoked marijuana in an Orlandomarker hotel room, the league demanded that he attend drug counseling. He refused, and was fined a total of $200,000 until he agreed to attend. He showed up late for a March game in Detroit; rather than serve a three-game suspension, he demanded his outright release. Having long since grown tired of Rider's act, the Hawks were more than willing to comply. The now-infamous Rider trade left the Hawks franchise in ruin; only a year after finishing fourth in the Eastern Conference, they finished next-to-last in the division and would not return to the playoffs for nine years.

Championship ring with the Lakers

Rider's next stop was the home of the defending champions, the Los Angeles Lakers. Rider played in 67 of the Lakers' 82 games that year and lead their bench in scoring with a 7.6 average. He finally won a championship ring with the Lakers, though he was left off the playoff roster in favor of two reserves (Greg Foster and Devean George) who rarely played. After the season, Rider stated that he wanted to return to the Lakers.

Denver Nuggets

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 stint in the Mile High City was limited to just 10 games before being waived on November 20, 2001. Rider refused to term it "retirement" at the time, however, insisting that he could still play if given the chance.

Post-NBA life

In January 2006, Rider was arrested on kidnapping charges in Marin City, Californiamarker for taking a female friend in his car against her will. He was charged with domestic violence and ordered to stay out of Marin City. Despite this court order, he was spotted in the area a few weeks later. A Marin Countymarker sheriff's deputy confronted him, and while fleeing, Rider hit another car. He was arrested in Alameda County in late 2006, and transferred to the Marin County jail after three judges in that county issued bench warrants against him. In February 2007, Rider pleaded guilty to several charges, including felony cocaine possession and evading an officer. He was sentenced to seven months in jail, 120 hours community service and three years' probation. He will also have to complete a drug education program. At sentencing, Rider admitted to a longstanding problem with marijuana; he'd also begun lacing it with cocaine.

On January 6, 2008, Rider was again arrested, this time in Berkeley, Californiamarker after a confrontation between a taxi driver and a passenger resulted in the police being called. Rider was found to be the passenger. Subsequently, Rider was arrested on a no-bail warrant for unlawful firearm possession and separate $5,000 warrant for grand theft issued by the Oakland Police Department.

On March 5, 2008, Rider was arrested and was held in the Marin County Jail in San Rafael, Californiamarker. He was charged and pled guilty for possession of a controlled narcotic substance, disobeying a court order, evading a peace officer, providing false information to a peace officer, and driving on a suspended license.

On early Saturday morning, March 29, 2008, Rider was arrested in the Skid Row district of Los Angelesmarker for investigation of auto theft and was released from Los Angeles County jail in the afternoon. He was scheduled to appear in court on April 23, 2008.

In October 2009, Rider signed with the North Texas Fresh of the American Basketball Association.


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