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Clyde Drexler
Clyde Drexler
Drexler playing for the Trail Blazers.
No. 22
Shooting guard
Personal information
Born                           June 22, 1962 (1962-06-22) (age 57)
                                    New Orleans, Louisiana
Nationality                 American
Listed height            6 ft 7 in (2.01)
Listed weight           210 lb (95 kg)
Career information
High school             Ross Sterling
                                  (Houston Texas)
College                     Houston
NBA Draft                 1983 / Round: 1 / Pick: 14th
Selected by the Portland Trail Blazers
Playing career         1983-1998 (15 years)
Career history
1983-1995                Portland Trail Blazers
1995-1998                Houston Rockets
Career highlights and awards
Basketball Hall of Fame
Inducted                 2004
NBA.com profile profile

Clyde Austin "The Glide" Drexler (born June 22, 1962) is a retired American professional basketball shooting guard and Basketball Hall of Famer. The NBA named him one of basketball's fifty greatest players as of 1996. Drexler won an Olympic gold medal in 1992 and an NBA championship in 1995 with the Houston Rockets. He is the color commentator for Rockets home games.

Contents

Early years

Drexler lived in the South Park area in Houston.[1] Drexler attended Ross Sterling High School[2] in Houston, Texas, where he was a classmate of tennis player Zina Garrison.[3] As a sophomore, he made the varsity baseball team as a first baseman, but soon quit in order to focus on basketball. He didn't try out for the basketball team until his junior year, and was promptly cut during tryouts due to lack of conditioning.[4] Drexler played as a 6'6" center as a senior, and started receiving attention from college coaches following a 34-point, 27-rebound performance against Sharpstown High School during a 1979 Christmas tournament.[4]

After graduating in 1980, he was recruited by New Mexico State, Texas Tech, and the University of Houston, the latter after childhood friend Michael Young told an assistant to head coach Guy V. Lewis that Drexler was the best player he had faced in high school; Houston was able to recruit them both due to Drexler's friendship with Young and his desire to stay home.[4] In addition to basketball, he majored in finance and worked at a bank during the summer.[3] Lewis recalled in 2003 that he initially received hate mail from Houston supporters and alumni for recruiting Drexler, as they felt that he wasn't good enough to play for the school.[4]

Phi Slama Jama

[1][2]Drexler performs a slam dunk as a member of the Houston Cougars men's basketball teamDrexler and Young, along with Larry Micheaux and new recruit Hakeem Olajuwon, comprised the "Phi Slama Jama" basketball fraternity that gained national attention for its acrobatic, above-the-rim play. New players were "initiated" into the fraternity by having to stand underneath the basket as Drexler drove in from halfcourt and threw down a tomahawk slam over them.[5] Houston made the first of Drexler's two straight Final Four appearances in 1982, where they lost to eventual champions North Carolina. He averaged 15.2 points and 10.5 rebounds (second in the Southwest Conference) per game as a small forward as Houston finished 25-8.[4]

The 1982-83 campaign saw Houston return to the Final Four ranked #1. They were matched up against #2 Louisville and the "Doctors of Dunk" in the semifinals, which Houston won 94-81 following a brilliant dunking display by both sides, including a double-pump slam by Drexler that Sports Illustrated writer Curry Kirkpatrick called "your basic play of the century."[6] He finished with 21 points, seven rebounds and six assists, but in the championship game against North Carolina State, Drexler failed to make an impact after picking up four fouls before halftime, and scored only four points on one-of-five shooting and two free throws in NC State's upset victory.[5]

Drexler declared for the NBA Draft as a junior, leaving Houston with career averages of 14.4 points, 3.3 assists and 9.9 rebounds in three seasons. In addition to being named the Southwestern Conference Player of the Year and a first-team All American his final season,[7] he remains the only player in school history with combined totals of at least 1,000 career points, 900 rebounds and 300 assists, in addition to being Houston's all-time steals leader with 268.[8]

NBA career

Drexler was selected in the 1st round, 14th overall pick in the 1983 NBA Draft by the Portland Trail Blazers. He was passed over in the 1983 NBA Draft by the Houston Rockets, who drafted Ralph Sampson and Rodney McCray, before Drexler was selected. Along with teammates Terry Porter, Jerome Kersey, Buck Williams, Kevin Duckworth, and Clifford Robinson, Drexler helped lead Portland to the NBA Finals in 1990 against the Detroit Pistons and 1992 versus the Chicago Bulls. His 1990-91 Trail Blazers were the favorites heading into the playoffs, having finished the season with the best record in the NBA and besting the Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls in the two regular season games those teams played. The Blazers beat the LA Lakers three games to two in the regular season but fell in the Western Conference Championship 4-2.[9]

In 1992 he was selected to the U.S. Olympic basketball team, nicknamed "The Dream Team", which won the gold medal in Barcelona. In the 1991-92 season he finished second to Michael Jordan in MVP voting.[10] He met Jordan's Chicago Bulls in the NBA Finals that same season only to fall short, as Jordan and the Bulls went on to win their second consecutive championship. In the six-game series against Chicago, Drexler averaged 24.8 points, 7.8 rebounds and 5.3 assists per game.[11]

On February 14, 1995, with the Blazers out of serious contention for a championship, Portland honored Drexler's request to be traded to a contender and sent the Blazer great back home to the Houston Rockets in exchange for Otis Thorpe in mid-season, right before the trade deadline. Despite finishing the regular season with a record of 47–35, which placed the Rockets 6th out of 8 playoff teams in the Western Conference, Drexler and long-time friend Hakeem Olajuwon helped propel them to an improbable second consecutive championship in 1995, sweeping the Orlando Magic. In his third NBA Finals appearance, Drexler averaged 21.5 points, 9.5 rebounds and 6.8 assists per game.[12]

During the 1995 NBA Playoffs, Drexler was ejected during a game between the Rockets and the Phoenix Suns by referee Jake O'Donnell, which allegedly stemmed from a personal feud between the two at the time.[13] This would turn out to be the last NBA game O'Donnell would referee, as he was not assigned any further games in the playoffs that year, and eventually retired a few months later. In 1996, on ESPN's "NBA Today", O'Donnell commented, "I wouldn't give Clyde Drexler much leeway because of the way he reacted with me all the time. I thought at times he would give cheap shots to people, and I just would not allow it."[14]

On February 13, 2009, Drexler participated in the NBA All-Star Weekend's Celebrity Game. Other celebrities participating include NBA Hall of Famers Dominique Wilkins, Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Terrell Owens, actor Chris Tucker and four Harlem Globetrotters.
Clyde Drexler - Clyde the Glide

Clyde Drexler - Clyde the Glide

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