There hasn’t been anyone who’s seen the video of former Rutgers basketball coach Mike Rice who can believe it. Including (probably) Mike Rice. Coaches - even some of the most highly successful ones who have been around for a long, long time - have been quoted that they felt uncomfortable just watching it. Kobe Bryant claimed he would’ve “smacked the hell out of him” - even if he were only an 18 year old freshman. Yet, not one of the Rutgers’ players even gave their coach a dirty look. Keep in mind, however, the video was a “highlight film” (or “lowlight”) of Rice’s bullying antics, i.e. what people saw wasn’t from just one practice. In fact, it might have been a compilation of weeks of practice video.
Most people have asked “Why did they take it?” Why did none of them act in the manner Kobe said he would have. Did the coach brainwash them? Actually, that might exactly be why they took it. Here’s my scenario (and keep in mind, it’s nothing more than conjecture, i.e. there is not a shred of evidence to it):
Coach Rice: “Look, guys, we’re the ugly stepchild of this league (the Big East). Nobody has any respect for us. Everybody bullies us. For us to win, we’re going to have to be tough. Tougher than the guys who want to bully us.
“So I’m going to bully you. Now, it will just be in practice. Before and after practice, nothing about our relationship will change. My door’s still always open, you’re still my guys . But, at practice I’m going to bully you. I’m going to shove you, verbally abuse you and throw balls at you. How are you going to react? Are you going to cave in to the bully? Or are you going to ignore him, play harder and beat him?”
Once again, this is complete conjecture. After seeing the video - and noticing the players never seemed to get upset, never questioned Rice (although in other clips, players are seen pushing back assistant Jimmy Martelli after he shoves them - hey, assistants only get so much leeway) led me to believe that these were playing along. Like it was a play and they were playing a part in it. Why else would macho guys - as a good deal of today’s ballers see themselves - allow themselves to be subjected to such bullying. Especially by somebody who recruited them - who was in their homes, spoke with their parents and their coaches. You know he never told them to expect any such tomfoolery at practices.
Naturally, even if this were true, Rice could never admit it as it’s as asinine a strategy as telling them to play on their knees in order to get lower in their defensive stances. Plus, admitting to using the homophobic verbiage as a ploy - in any day and age - but especially this one would force any administrator to fire him on the spot.
All of the above is only my imagination’s explanation of what occurred at Rutgers, so we should all keep in mind that:
“Just because you can justify something in your own mind doesn’t make it right.”