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Clyde "The Glide" Austin Drexler (born June 22, 1962 in New Orleans, Louisianamarker) is a former National Basketball Association shooting guard. A ten-time All-Star and member of the Basketball Hall of Famemarker, 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 currently the color commentator for Rockets home games.

Early years

Drexler attended Ross Sterling High School, where he was a classmate of tennis player Zina Garrison. 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. 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.

After graduating in 1980, he was recruited by New Mexico Statemarker, Texas Techmarker, and the University of Houstonmarker, 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. In addition to basketball, he majored in finance and worked at a bank during the summer. 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.

Phi Slama Jama

Drexler and Young, along with Larry Micheaux and new recruit Akeem 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. Houston made the first of Drexler's two straight Final Four appearances in 1982, where they lost to eventual champions North Carolinamarker. 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.

The 1982-83 campaign saw Houston return to the Final Four ranked #1. They were matched up against #2 Louisvillemarker 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." He finished with 21 points, seven rebounds and six assists, but in the championship game against North Carolina Statemarker, 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.

Drexler declared for the NBA Draft as a junior, leaving Houston with career averages of 14.4 points, 3.2 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, 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.

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 the team to the NBA Finals in 1990 against the Detroit Pistons and 1992 versus the Chicago Bulls.

In 1992 he was selected to the U.S. Olympics 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. 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.

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 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.

During the 1995 NBA Playoffs, Drexler was the subject of a controversial ejection 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. 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."

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

NBA statistics

Regular season Playoffs
Year Team GP MPG SPG BPG RPG APG FG% PPG GP MPG SPG BPG RPG APG FG% PPG
1983-84 Portland 82 17.2 1.30 0.35 2.9 1.9 .451 7.7 5 17.0 1.00 0.20 3.4 1.6 .429 7.2
1984-85 Portland 80 31.9 2.21 0.85 6.0 5.5 .494 17.2 9 37.7 2.56 1.00 6.1 9.2 .410 16.7
1985-86 Portland 75 34.3 2.63 0.61 5.6 8.0 .475 18.5 4 36.3 1.50 0.75 6.3 6.5 .456 18.0
1986-87 Portland 82 38.0 2.49 0.87 6.3 6.9 .502 21.7 4 38.3 1.75 0.75 7.5 3.8 .456 24.0
1987-88 Portland 81 37.8 2.51 0.64 6.6 5.8 .506 27.0 4 42.5 3.00 0.50 7.0 5.3 .386 22.0
1988-89 Portland 78 39.3 2.73 0.69 7.9 5.8 .496 27.2 3 42.7 2.00 0.67 6.7 8.3 .493 27.7
1989-90 Portland 73 36.8 1.99 0.70 6.9 5.9 .494 23.3 21 40.6 2.52 0.86 7.2 7.1 .441 21.4
1990-91 Portland 82 34.8 1.76 0.73 6.7 6.0 .482 21.5 16 39.6 2.13 1.00 8.1 8.1 .476 21.7
1991-92 Portland 76 36.2 1.82 0.92 6.6 6.7 .470 25.0 21 40.3 1.48 0.95 7.4 7.0 .466 26.3
1992-93 Portland 49 34.1 1.94 0.76 6.3 5.7 .429 19.9 3 38.7 1.67 1.00 6.3 4.7 .419 19.0
1993-94 Portland 68 34.3 1.44 0.50 6.5 4.9 .428 19.2 4 39.3 2.00 0.50 10.3 5.5 .425 21.0
1994-95 Por - Hou 76 35.9 1.79 0.59 6.3 4.8 .461 21.8 22 38.6 1.50 0.68 7.0 5.0 .481 20.5
1995-96 Houston 52 38.4 2.02 0.46 7.2 5.8 .433 19.3 8 36.5 2.63 0.50 7.8 5.0 .415 16.6
1996-97 Houston 62 36.6 1.92 0.58 6.0 5.7 .442 18.0 16 38.9 1.63 0.44 5.6 4.8 .436 18.1
1997-98 Houston 70 35.3 1.80 0.60 4.9 5.5 .427 18.4 5 36.4 1.60 0.60 5.4 4.6 .309 15.0
Career 1,086 34.6 2.03 0.66 6.1 5.6 .472 20.4 145 38.4 1.92 0.74 6.9 6.1 .447 20.4


Playing style

Clyde "The Glide" Drexler, as he was nicknamed at the University of Houston and throughout his professional career, was famed for his speed and athleticism on the court and his easygoing and quiet demeanor off the court. At the University of Houston, Drexler became well known for his exceptional abilities as a finisher, but generally was not considered a great shooter. During his pro career Drexler developed a much more well rounded game, even becoming an effective post player and more consistent outside shooter. His extraordinary leaping abilities allowed him to be an acrobatic dunker and Drexler participated in numerous NBA All-Star dunk contests during the late eighties.

Drexler was regarded as a versatile player, and he was consistently among the leaders at his position in points, rebounds, assists, and steals. This versatility led him to nearly receive a quadruple double twice in his career (January 10, 1986, Portland at Milwaukee; 26 points, 9 rebounds, 11 assists, 10 steals; and November 1, 1996, Houston vs. Sacramento; 25 points, 10 rebounds, 9 assists, 10 steals). He also posted a considerable number of blocked shots for a player his size, ranking third for his career totals among guards.

He is one of only three players in NBA history to have posted career totals of at least 20,000 points, 6,000 rebounds and 6,000 assists (the two others being Oscar Robertson and John Havlicek). As of 2008, Drexler leads all guards with his career average of offensive rebounds with 2.4 per game.

College coaching career

Drexler stayed with the Rockets for three more seasons before retiring from the NBA after the 1997-98 season in order to become head men's basketball coach at his alma mater, the University of Houston.

Drexler coached the Cougars in 1998–1999 and 1999–2000. After compiling a 19–37 record in his two seasons, Drexler decided to resign to spend more time with his family.

Honors and tribute



Drexler's #22 jersey has been retired by the Cougars (pictured), Rockets, and Trail Blazers. He was inducted as a player into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famemarker on September 10, 2004, in his first year of eligibility.

In 2004 Drexler co-authored his biography, Clyde the Glide, with Portland Tribune sports writer Kerry Eggers, and University of Houston classmate and CBS Sports broadcaster Jim Nantz providing the "foreword".

Drexler set a Trail Blazer record in 1989 by dunking on an 11' 1" rim.

He chose to wear a Houston Rockets team jacket when announced as one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History, having been on the team just a year, rather than the jacket of the Portland Trail Blazers, with whom he'd played the preceding 11-1/2 seasons.

Awards



Family

Drexler married his wife, Gaynell, on December 30, 1988. He has four children, Erica, Austin, Elise, and Adam (the last three with Gaynell). The Drexlers have a home in the River Oaks-Memorial neighborhood of Houston and another one in the Dunthorpemarker neighborhood of Portland.Vondersmith, Jason. "Life’s a glide" - Portland Tribune - December 12, 2003

His brother James and his two sisters, Denise and Virginia, run the family barbecue restaurants in Houston called Drexler's World Famous BBQ & Grill, which includes the "22 Bar". His mother, Eunice Scott, also works at the downtown restaurant that was started by his uncle in 1967. There are two locations, downtown Houston and Bush Intercontinental Airport. Drexler also started investing in real estate in his rookie NBA season, and although he is now mostly retired, he does do some managing of his Drexler Holdings LLC, based in downtown Houston.

TV appearances

Drexler made a guest appearance on Married... with Children, a cameo appearance in an episode of Arliss, and was also a guest star in an episode of The Sentinel. In 2006 he made a cameo appearance in the basketball movie Like Mike 2: Streetball. That same year, Drexler participated in the first season of the Spike TV show Pros vs. Joes, which features three amateur contestants matching themselves against five professional athletes. Drexler was a member of the regular season Green Team and the season finale Orange Team.

On February 21, 2007, it was announced that Drexler would participate in the fourth season of the American version of Dancing with the Stars with partner Elena Grinenko. Drexler was the fourth celebrity to be voted off in round five on April 17, 2007.

Notes

  1. "NBA Legends Unveil Tundra Turnaround Court at Delmar Complex" - Houston Independent School District - May 7, 2007
  2. Higdon, David. Clyde Drexler: Portland's Pride. Sports Illustrated for Kids, February 1993.
  3. Clyde Drexler Career Highlights #14, "Quotes in Mid-Flight." Fleer Corporation, 1993-94
  4. Bengtson, Russ. Quiet as Kept, Slam Magazine, December 1996
  5. Clyde Drexler Career Highlights #3, "Southern Rock n' Roll." Fleer Corporation, 1993-94
  6. Database Basketball
  7. Retrieved on 2008-04-09
  8. Drexler, Clyde with Kerry Eggers. Clyde the Glide. Sports Publishing. 2004. ISBN 1582617422
  9. NBA.com Biography - NBA - Accessed January 13, 2008
  10. "Bush Intercontinental Airport" - USA Today: Travel - February 27, 2007
  11. Drexler Holdings LLC at Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts - State of Texas-Secretary of State
  12. "Meet the New Cast of 'Dancing With the Stars'" - ABC News - February 21, 2007


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