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Maurice Baker and Renaldo Major will go head-to-head when the Dakota Wizards take on the Bakersfield Jam today in the D-League playoffs. But there will be another one of the franchise’s greatest players involved in the festivities for what could be the Wizards’ final game in Bismarck.

The Wizards are retiring the number 32 of Kevin Rice, Dakota’s former all-star forward and assistant coach. Rice will be the third Wizard to have his number retired, joining Willie Murdaugh and Kevin Beard.

Rice played four seasons (1999-2003) for the Wizards.

He was a first-team all-star when the Wizards won their first championship in the International Basketball Association in 2001.

He made the jump to the CBA with the Wizards the following season, helping them win another championship. In 2002-03, Rice’s final season as a Wizard, he was named the CBA’s defensive player of the year.

On Dakota’s career record list, Rice trails only Baker and Major with 2,069 career points and 159 games. He is second to Baker with 341 steals and fifth in rebounds with 857.

In 2006-07, Rice joined the Wizards in a new role — as an assistant coach. Once again the result was a championship, this one in the D-League.

After a one-season hiatus to resume his playing career, Rice returned for two more seasons as an assistant coach.

He has since gone on to become head coach for United Tribes’ men’s basketball team.

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Reach sports editor Lou Babiarz at 250-8243 or Lou.Babiarz@bismarcktribune.com.

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