Isaiah "J.R." Rider says UNLV's 'Hey Reb!' statue -- with ties to the Confederacy -- had to be removed ... telling TMZ Sports he's proud his alma mater "did the right thing."
Rider was an absolute beast at University of Nevada, Las Vegas in the early '90s... and was named an All-American in 1993. J.R. was the 5th overall pick in the NBA Draft.
We asked the former superstar hooper how he felt about UNLV yanking the popular giant bronze statue from the place it sat for years on campus.