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 Friday, February 4
Rockets retire Drexler's number
Associated Press

 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.

Clyde Drexler
Clyde Drexler spent most of his career in Portland but won his only championship with the Rockets.

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 destiny."

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," Olajuwon said.

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 6,125 assists.

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 trade.

"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.


Anderson imitates Drexler on a night when Rockets retire jersey