Blazers: Clyde “The Glide” Drexler
When you think about the all-time greats in Portland Trail Blazers history, a handful of names come to mind. Bill Walton and Maurice Lucas were prominent big men. Terry Porter and Kevin Duckworth were perfect in the up-tempo system of the 90s.
But among all of the legends, one name sticks out as arguably the greatest of all time—Clyde Drexler.
Portland Trail Blazers
Drexler was drafted by the Blazers in 1983. He was the 14th overall selection that year, going on to have a modest rookie season, but he officially hit the scene as a sophomore.
The 2-guard, known for his ability to slide across the court and glide through the air, went on to average 20.8 points, 6.2 rebounds and 5.7 assists per game while in Portland. He is one of just three players in NBA history to record at least 20,000 points, 6,000 rebounds and 6,000 assists, making him one of the 50 greatest players of all time.
The question here, though, is not about how good he was as a Blazer. The question is: what has become of “The Glide” since leaving in 1995.
On Valentine’s Day 1995, the Blazers respected the wishes of their franchise player. The team was not going to compete for a championship that season, and Drexler wanted to play for a team where he would be given an opportunity to do just that.
Portland traded the guard to the Houston Rockets, officially separating themselves from the legend.
Drexler went on to win a championship that season alongside Hakeem Olajuwon. He would play until the 1997-98 season, playing in 70 games and then retiring during the summer.
Since retiring from the league, the legend has yet to truly leave the game. Immediately following his retirement from the Rockets, Drexler accepted the head coaching position with the University of Houston—his alma mater.
Overall, his coaching career was extremely forgettable, as he earned a record of 19-39 in just two years with the team.
Hall of Fame
Drexler is now a Hall of Famer in both the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame and the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. His playing style was as fun to watch as anybody in the NBA, and his productivity led him to becoming one of the all-time greats.
During his Naismith induction in 2004, he was introduced by another legend, Juluis “Dr. J” Erving. Drexler’s induction speech was a classy as it comes, honoring Erving, his own family and his basketball influences with the utmost praise and respect.
In 2004, Drexler co-authored his biography, “Clyde Drexler: Clyde the Glide.” He wrote it alongside Kerry Eggers, a sports writer with the Portland Tribune, and Jim Nantz, a legendary sportscaster.
But that’s not where his career as an author ends. He also wrote the introduction to the children’s book, “Shrews Can’t Hoop.”
Drexler is no stranger to the spotlight. Throughout his career as a player, he made 10 All-Star games and he went on to have his jersey retired by both the Blazers and the Rockets.
That said he’s taken on the role of a celebrity since retiring from the game.
In 2006, Drexler appeared on Pros vs. Joes, a television program designed to pit former professional athletes against “real” people. He also appeared in another television competition in 2007, as his showing on Dancing with the Stars paired him with a professional dancer, Elena Grinenko, and the duo placed fourth.
In 2010, Drexler appeared as a guest on Celebrity Apprentice.
Drexler’s path has led him back to the NBA, but this time in the role of color commentator. He calls games for the Rockets, providing expert analysis and the perspective of someone who excelled at the game.
Drexler has the privilege today of calling contests for Houston, who has a star player in James Harden. Harden plays the 2-guard position, which means Drexler has both respect and criticism to offer to today’s star.
The road for Drexler has placed him back in Houston where he won his only NBA championship. Fans in Portland will always remember “The Glide” for what he brought to the organization, and while he’s now a member of the Rockets once again, the old cliché remains true: once a Trail Blazer, always a Trail Blazer.