One-On-One With Clyde Drexler
Ryan McNeill: You played in three NBA Finals. What are some of your favourite memories?
Clyde Drexler: The NBA Finals, that’s the pinnacle of what you play for. Every team would love to be there and it would be nice to win it, but if you don’t win it at least you can say you got there. Getting there three times and close another two times, was an awesome experience.
McNeill: Are there any mixed feelings that you didn’t get a chance to win a Championship in Portland?
Drexler: No, I think you do the very best you can and you give it everything you have at the time. You’ve got to be able to live with the results. Basketball is a team game; it’s not an individual sport. We’ve been there many, many times, but there’s only going to be one champion at the end of the year.
McNeill: What was it like to play college ball with Hakeem Olajuwon and then get re-united in the NBA to win a Championship?
Drexler: It was the best thing ever! Hakeem was a phenomenal college player and he developed after my sophomore year. He was not that good my sophomore year but my junior year he was the Hakeem Olajuwon that we know and love.
McNeill: You had a chance to play with Charles Barkley in Houston. What are your thoughts on what he’s going through right now?
Drexler: He’s having a tough time. Chuckster needs to settle down, take it easy, sit back and take a long look at what he’s doing. He’ll figure it out because he’s a smart guy.
McNeill: In 1992 you played in an epic NBA Finals against the Chicago Bulls. What are some of your favorite memories from this series?
Drexler: One of my favorite memories is those two teams were very evenly matched. And either one of those games could have gone either way. I would have loved to see that series go to Game 7.
McNeill: What are some of your favorite memories from playing on the original Dream Team in 1992?
Drexler: The original Dream Team and the only. It was the first time professional athletes were allowed to participate in the Olympics, so I was proud and honored to be on that team. Obviously we took care of business in a big way. The Redeem Team did very well this summer and got the gold medal back in this country. We’re very proud of them. But if you compare the two I would take the ‘92 team any day.
McNeill: As a rookie you only averaged 7.7 points per game. Did you ever get frustrated that rookie season?
Drexler: I was frustrated my whole rookie season! It’s so frustrating when you know you can play and when you’re given an opportunity… I started a couple of games and I had something like 20 points and seven or eight rebounds. And then the next game I went back to playing 12 or 15 minutes. It was very frustrating because you want to play, you know you’ve proven yourself and you know you deserve to play. But, at that time, we had guys who were All-NBA second team in your position. So you had to earn your spot and that’s what I had to encounter.
McNeill: So were your improved stats in your second year just a case of you getting more playing time?
Drexler: It was just a matter of earning my minutes. Jack Ramsey was an old school coach. I held out of camp (my rookie season) and I got off to a slow start my rookie year. He had a thousand plays and Jack’s rule was we wouldn’t play until we learned all of his plays. Secondly, I will say, the second half of my rookie season I averaged over 25 minutes per game. So that was pretty impressive.
McNeill: You ended your career joining Oscar Robertson and John Havlicek as the only players to top 20,000 points, 6,000 rebounds and 6,000 assists. What does being in that company with this record mean to you?
Drexler: That just means you played the total game and when guys like Oscar averaged 30 points, 11 assists and 12 rebounds for a season, to be in the same category with Oscar Robertson and John Havlicek just lets you know did a pretty decent job. I got lucky a lot, shall we say.
McNeill: You were enshrined in the Hall of Fame in 2004. What does this mean to you?
Drexler: It’s a tremendous honor. It’s like the ultimate compliment to your game. You can be the 13th guy on a Championship team and have a ring, but that Hall of Fame ring, you’ve got to earn that one yourself.
McNeill: Terry Porter, one of your former teammates, had his number retired this season. What are your thoughts on this?
Drexler: I thought he was deserving. Terry was a great player for Blazers and played 10 seasons in the uniform. He was probably the best point guard to ever play for that team and I think to put his number up in the rafters was a wonderful thing. I certainly enjoyed playing with him as a teammate.
McNeill: You were born in New Orleans so obviously you have ties to that city. How tough has it been to see the effects of Hurricane Katrina on that city?
Drexler: It’s been tough to watch that because New Orleans was the entertainment capital of the world. I would say to get that city back to where it was before Katrina, it’s going to take another five years. A lot of people suffered and worked very hard to get it back to where it is now, and a lot of people around the world have helped to get it back, but I think it’s going to take continued efforts for a least another five years to get that city back to where it was.
McNeill: You stopped coaching at the University of Houston after two seasons to spend more time with your family. Do you see a future coaching in the college or pro game?
Drexler: I would love to coach. My youngest son is ninth grader and when he finishes and goes to college I’ll be free and will have a lot of time on my hands. I would love to go back and coach or become a general manager for an NBA team. That’s about three years away and I look forward to that. That’s something I would like to do because you always like to compete. It’s in my blood. But I wanted to raise all of my kids, get them out of the house and he’s the last out of four to go.
McNeill: I hear you’re doing a big sponsorship with Alltell. What’s the scoop on that?
Drexler: It’s the Alltell My Circle Hoops Getaway. You can go to alltellbasketball.com to enter. It’s really a nice promotion because if you’re lucky enough to win you get to go to a regular season college or NBA of your choice on a private jet with 10 of your closest friends. And I’ll even go along to make sure everything is okay.
McNeill: So do you count as one of their 10?
Drexler: I’m additional! I’m just going to tag along. If you don’t have ten friends I’m sure you’ll have them if you win this promotion.
McNeill: Thanks for your time today Clyde, best of luck with your future endeavors.
Drexler: Thank you, Ryan.
Photo Credit: ICON Sports Media