| ||HOUSTON -- Clyde Drexler retired from the Houston Rockets
two seasons ago and moved across town to coach at the University of
Houston, his alma mater.
Drexler returned Thursday night for another retirement party, the No. 22 Rockets jersey he wore in helping Hakeem Olajuwon and the Rockets win their second straight NBA title in 1995.
"I'm so glad we had the chance to do it," Drexler said.
"Dream and I talked about it for 10 years and we thought it would
never happen. But you never give up on your dreams. That was pure
Drexler's stature in the NBA was reflected by the guest list
attending the ceremonies, including Hall of Famer Julius Erving and
Drexler's first pro coach, Jack Ramsay.
"He could turn a game around and he could do it quickly,"
Ramsay said. "He could get a steal and go down and score and then
get another steal and go score. It was amazing."
"God willing, one day my jersey will be alongside of his,"
Drexler's number will hang beside the previously retired numbers
of Rudy Tomjanovich (45), Calvin Murphy (23) and Moses Malone (24).
"It's an honor to be up there with some of the greats of the
game," Drexler said.
Drexler was the 14th pick in the first round by the Portland
Trail Blazers in 1983. In 11 seasons in Portland, Drexler led the
Blazers to the NBA Finals twice, losing to Detroit in 1990 and to
Chicago in 1992.
Drexler was selected to 10 NBA all-star games, including four as
a starter, and was voted as one of the top 50 pros in league
history. He had career totals of 22,195 points, 6,677 rebounds and
In Drexler's final season, he became the third player in NBA
history to compile career totals of 20,000 points, 6,000 rebounds
and 6,000 assists. Hall of Famers John Havlicek and Oscar Robertson
are the others.
Drexler and Olajuwon were teammates on the University of Houston
Phil Slama Jama teams in the early 1980s that reached the NCAA
finals but never won a title.
Drexler was not highly recruited out of high school, but Houston
coach Guy Lewis made him an instant starter.
"Clyde was the first guy I started from the opening day of
practice," Lewis said. "He was a scorer in college, not a great
shooter. He could get a steal and go down and stuff it."
It wasn't until Drexler joined Olajuwon with the Rockets in 1995
that he finally got to play on a championship team.
It was a moment Olajuwon and Drexler had dreamed of before the
"We would get together and it would be like, 'Man, can you
imagine if we ever got back together? I'll bet we could win it all
if we did,"' Olajuwon said. "But it was just talk, not knowing
that one day it would all come true."
Drexler led the Cougars to a 10-17 record in his first season as
coach. The Cougars are struggling again this season in
Conference-USA with an 8-13 record and in last place in the
National Division with a 2-6 record.
|Clyde Drexler spent most of his career in Portland but won his only championship with the Rockets.|| |
Anderson imitates Drexler on a night when Rockets retire jersey