Happy 53rd birthday to “The Glide”.
Clyde Austin Drexler was born in New Orleans, Louisiana on this date in 1962 and moved to Houston shortly thereafter. He attended Sterling High School in Houston and made the varsity baseball team as a sophomore after having been cut from the varsity basketball team that year. He played center at 6’6” and was recruited by New Mexico State, Texas Tech and University of Houston following his senior year, ultimately choosing Houston so he could remain close to home.
He teamed with Hakeem Olajuwon, Michael Young and Larry Micheaux to form “Phi Slama Jama” basketball fraternity, known for its acrobatic, above-the-rim play. The Cougars made two straight Final Four appearances, losing to eventual champion North Carolina in 1982 and North Carolina State in 1983, the latter of which is considered one of the biggest championship game upsets in NCAA tournament history. Drexler was named Southwest Conference Player of the Year and All American in 1983 and chose to leave for the NBA after that, his junior, season.
The 6’7”, 210 pound swingman was the # 14 overall pick in the 1983 NBA Draft by the Portland Trail Blazers and he was voted to his first All Star team in his third year in the league. He led the Blazers to the NBA Finals in 1989-90, where they lost to the Detroit Pistons and again in 1991-92, where they lost to the Chicago Bulls. “The Glide” finished second in league MVP voting that year to Chicago’s Michael Jordan. He played 11 full seasons in Portland and was traded to Houston midway through the 1995 campaign, where he was reunited with Olajuwon and helped the Rockets win the 1995 NBA title. He played three more seasons in Houston before retiring in 1998.
Mr. Drexler was an NBA All Star ten times and is the Portland Trail Blazers’ all-time leading scorer. He is one of three players in NBA history [Oscar Robertson, John Havlicek] with over 20,000 points, 6,000 rebounds and 6.000 assists during a career. He won a gold medal in 1992 with Team USA’s “Dream Team” and his 2,615 career offensive rebounds as a guard is an NBA record.
Clyde Drexler had his # 22 jersey retired by University of Houston, one of five players in school history to receive that honor. The Portland Trail Blazers and the Houston Rockets also retired his # 22. He was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2004 and is a member of the NBA’s 50th Anniversary All Time team.