Clyde Drexler Biography
Clyde Drexler is one of the greatest NBA guards of all time. His grace and leaping ability earned him the nickname "The Glide." He first came on the scene in college as a member of "Phi Slama Jama" -- the University of Houston's high-flying hoops fraternity. The Portland Trail Blazers drafted Drexler 14th overall in 1983, and he went on to lead the Blazers to the NBA Finals twice. He eventually won an NBA championship with the Houston Rockets in 1995.
Named one of the NBA's 50 Greatest Players in 1996, Drexler averaged 20.4 points, 6.1 rebounds, 5.6 assists and 2.03 steals over his 15-year career in which he never missed the playoffs. He was a 10-time NBA All-Star and a member of the Dream Team that won the Olympic gold medal in 1992. In 2004, he was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame.
Drexler was born on June 22, 1962, in New Orleans. His mother, Eunice, moved his family to Houston when he was three years old after she left his father, James. Drexler attended Houston's Ross Sterling High School, where he didn't play for his school until his junior year.
Drexler attended the University of Houston, where he teamed up with Hakeem Olajuwon and Larry Micheaux to form "Phi Slama Jama" -- nicknamed for their high-flying style of play. He averaged 14.1 points and 9.9 rebounds per game in three college seasons, during which he helped lead the Cougars to two Final Four appearances in 1982 and 1983. In the '83 title game, the Cougars were famously upset by Jim Valvano's NC State squad. He was named first-team All-American in 1983, averaging 15.9 points, 8.8 rebounds and 3.8 assists.
Drexler's No. 22 was retired by the University of Houston in 1997.
Drexler was drafted by the Portland Trail Blazers with the 14th overall pick in the 1983 NBA draft. As a rookie, he averaged only 7.7 points in 17.2 minutes per game. But it didn't take long for him to ascend into NBA stardom. In his second season, he averaged 17.2 points, 6 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 2.2 steals per game. And, in his third season, he made his first All-Star team and averaged 18.5 points, 5.6 rebounds, 8 assists and 2.6 steals.
The Blazers made the playoffs in all of Drexler's seasons in Portland, but they didn't become contenders until the early '90s. In 1989-90, Drexler averaged 23.3 points, 6.9 rebounds and 5.9 assists and led Portland to the NBA Finals, where he averaged 26.4 points and 7.8 rebounds. However, the Blazers would fall to the Detroit Pistons in five games.
The next season, Drexler would lead the Blazers to a franchise-record 63-19 mark. Favored to win the West, the Blazers were upset in the Western Conference finals by Magic Johnson's Lakers in six games.
In 1991-92, Drexler had perhaps his best season. He averaged 25 points per game (fourth in the league), made the All-NBA First Team and finished second to Michael Jordan in the MVP vote. The Blazers also made the Finals that season. Unfortunately, they went up against Jordan's Bulls. Drexler held his own -- averaging 24.8 points, 7.8 rebounds and 5.3 assists -- but the Blazers lost the series in six games.
To this day, Drexler holds franchise records for games, minutes, points, field goals made and attempted, free throws made and attempted, total rebounds, offensive rebounds and steals.
The Blazers retired his No. 22 in 2001.
Drexler was traded to the Rockets on February 14, 1995, where he was reunited with college teammate Hakeem Olajuwon. He fit in seamlessly, averaging 21.4 points and 7 rebounds in 35 games after the trade and helping the Rockets win their second consecutive NBA championship; as the sixth seed in the West, they swept the Magic in the '95 Finals. Drexler averaged 20.5 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists in the '95 playoffs.
Drexler would play three more seasons in Houston. In his final season, he averaged 19 points, 6.1 rebounds, 5.4 assists and 1.88 steals. He retired in 1998 with career averages of 20.4 points, 6.1 rebounds, 5.6 assists and 2.03 steals in 15 seasons with Portland and Houston. The Rockets also retired his jersey.
Drexler was part of the original Dream Team that won the gold medal in the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona. The team went 8-0, averaging 117.3 points per game and winning by an average of 43.8 points. Drexler contributed 10.5 points per game.
In 1998, Drexler became the head coach of the men's basketball team at his alma mater, the University of Houston. In two seasons, he compiled a 19-37 record. He resigned as coach in 2000 to spend more time with his family.
Drexler also served as an assistant coach for the Denver Nuggets during the 2001-02 season.
Drexler was one of the pro athletes involved in the first season of the reality TV series "Pros vs. Joes", which pit amateur contestants against retired professional athletes in their sports. Drexler was also a contestant on Season Four of ABC's "Dancing With the Stars". He was voted off in the fifth round.
Drexler is currently the color commentator for Rockets home games.
Drexler lives in Houston with his wife (Gaynell) and has four children (Erica, Austin, Elise and Adam).