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NBA 75 Series: #41 Clyde Drexler

Updated: Apr 3, 2022

Ranked at #41 in my NBA 75 Greatest Players of All Time is a man who seemed to float in the air, and was a great all-around player, Clyde Drexler. Drexler was born on June 22, 1962, in New Orleans, Louisiana, living in the South Park area in Houston, Texas. He would attend Ross Sterling High School where he would make the varsity team as sophomore, for baseball, and got cut from the basketball team.

That wouldn’t deter Drexler from continuing to pursue his dream, ultimately playing center for his team at 6-foot-6 his senior year where he started to receive attention from college coaches around the country after he put up an unprecedented 34-point, 27-rebound performance against Sharpstown during a 1979 Christmas tournament.

Drexler would have offers from New Mexico State, Texas Tech, and the University of Houston in his hometown. However, he would end up choosing to play for the Houston Cougars alongside his friend Michael Young, Larry Micheaux, and another man by the name of Hakeem Olajuwon (formerly known as Akeem). They would become one of the most exciting college teams of all time, earning the moniker “Phi Slama Jama” due to their exciting , fast paced, acrobatic, and above the rim style of play.

Drexler would help lead the Cougars to two straight Final Four appearances in 1982 and 1983. He averaged 15.2 points and 10.5 rebounds (second in the Southwest Conference) per game as a small forward, helping Houston finish with a 25-8 record in 1982.

In 1982-83, Drexler helped Houston return to the Final Four as the No.1 seed where they defeated No.2 Louisville 94-81 where Drexler did an iconic double-pump slam, which Sports Illustrated writer Curry Kilpatrick called it “your basic play of the century.” In the championship game against North Carolina State, Drexler put up 21 points, seven rebounds, and six assists, but would end up in foul trouble with four fouls going into the half, and being limited to 1-of-5 from the field in the second half in a NC State upset.

After a bitter loss, Drexler would end up declaring for the 1983 NBA Draft after a college career that saw him average 14.4 points, 3.3 assists, and 9.9 rebounds in three seasons at Houston. In his college career, Drexler was a Southwest Conference Player of the Year, and a consensus All-American selection his senior year. To this day, Drexler still remains the only Cougar to have totals of 1,000 career points, 900 rebounds, 300 assists, and being Houston’s all-time leader in steals in 268.

He would go on to be selected 14th overall in the 1983 NBA Draft by the Portland Trail Blazers where he would average 7.7 points in limited time on the floor his rookie season. His time would increase his sophomore season, increasing his production to 17.2 points, 6 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 2.2 steals per game.

Drexler would continue to elevate his game and ultimately become known as “The Glide '' for his high-flying, jet-like explosive swoops toward the basket and ferocious slams on opposing defenders, Clyde Drexler was amongst the best shooting guards of his era, probably second behind Michael Jordan. Drexler was the leader of the Blazers team that made the Finals in 1990 & 1992, but came up short to Isiah’s Pistons and Jordan’s Bulls.

It's fitting he won this title in Houston, the college he went to with Olajuwon where he starred on the “Phi Slama Jama” teams of the early 1980s. Drexler is also a 10-time All-Star, five-time All-NBA selection, and has his No.22 retired by the Rockets and Blazers. He was one of the finest highflyers and all-around players in league history.

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