Portland celebrates Hall of Famer with halftime ceremony
"I think it was a travesty for anyone who has ever been associated with the game of basketball," Drexler said about the melee.
On Sunday, NBA commissioner David Stern suspended Indiana's Ron Artest for the rest of the season. In all, nine players were banned for a combined 143 games.
Drexler, who wore No. 22 during 12 years with the Blazers, was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass., on Sept. 10.
The 10-time All-Star had an NBA career that spanned 15 seasons from 1983-95. He was also a member of the U.S. Olympic team that won gold in Barcelona.
Drexler, who wrapped up his career with the Rockets, averaged 20.4 points, 6.1 rebounds and 5.6 assists in 1,086 career games.The Portland fans gave Drexler an extended standing ovation at the halftime ceremony, during which the team unfurled a new banner from ceiling of the Rose Garden featuring the names of the six Hall of Famers with Trail Blazers ties -- Drexler, Lenny Wilkens, Neil Johnston, Dr. Jack Ramsay, Bill Walton and Drazen Petrovic.
"It all started right here in Portland, Oregon, 1983," he told the cheering crowd. "Tremendous, tremendous memories."
Drexler was not aware of the extent of the suspensions until told before the game on Sunday.
Indiana's Stephen Jackson was suspended for 30 games and Jermaine O'Neal for 25. Detroit's Ben Wallace -- whose shove of Artest after a foul led to the five-minute fracas -- drew a six-game ban, while Pacers guard Anthony Johnson got five games.
"Wow, that's pretty stiff," he said. "But that will ensure that it never happens again."
Drexler said going after fans is "just not an option."
"As professional athletes we are caretakers of the game," he said.
Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press