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Drexler, Clyde

Drexler, Clyde

1962—

Professional basketball player

During his nearly 12 seasons with the Portland Trail Blazers, Clyde "The Glide" Drexler became Portland's all-time leader in points scored, rebounding, steals, and games played. His fame grew beyond the Pacific Northwest as he led Portland to National Basketball Association (NBA) Finals in 1990 and 1992, and during his stint on the first, and some say only, "Dream Team," that won gold for the United States at the 1992 Olympics. Drexler made a name for himself as one of the sport's greatest players in Portland, but a championship eluded him until his first year with the Houston Rockets, 1995. He retired in 1998. Named one of the 50 greatest basketball players in NBA history, his status among professional basketball's elite was sealed in 2004 when Drexler was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame.

Earned Reputation as Basketball Phenomenon

Drexler was considered a phenomenon in professional basketball: a championship-caliber player, he toiled in a small market and never sought to call attention to himself. Compared at every turn to the better-known Michael Jordan, Drexler progressed year by year. Philadelphia Inquirer correspondent Mike Bruton commended Drexler for his "silky-smooth style that ranges from explosiveness when he assaults the hoop on the fast break to the utmost in finesse when he softly launches a three-pointer or beats his man on a baseline drive." Bruton added: "The Glide is not just a nickname, it is what Clyde Drexler does on a basketball court."

"He was definitely one of the best players to play this game," Portland guard Damon Stoudamire remembered to Nick Daschel of the Vancouver, Washington, Columbian on the occasion of Drexler's Hall of Fame induction. "But what I think about Clyde is that he's even a better person." What contributed to Drexler's appeal as a person was that, as Drexler stalked greatness, he kept his life in balance. "I want to win it all, but I'm not obsessed with it," he said placidly just before the 1992 NBA Championships. "It won't mar my accomplishments." He kept this same attitude throughout his career.

Drexler took great pride in the accomplishments he accumulated over his 15-year career as a professional basketball player. Plagued in his early years by a reputation for wild play on the court and stubbornness with coaches and staff, Drexler went on to mature emotionally and physically. He attributed his success in the NBA not to raw talent but to hard work. "It's a slap in my face to credit everything I've done to my God-given abilities," Drexler told the Sporting News. "I never felt I was a very good player. At Houston [in college], when everyone else was partying, I was in the gym…at 2 a.m., practicing. I've always had keys to the gym. My edge isn't my talent; it's the fact I'm always in shape."

Picked Up Basketball as a Kid

Drexler was born in 1962 in New Orleans, Louisiana. He spent most of his childhood in Houston, Texas, in a neighborhood known as South Park. Sporting News contributor Paul Attner noted that Drexler has described himself as a "chubby preteen who was too slow, couldn't jump and was always picked last on his playground in Houston." That assessment might not be completely fair. The middle of seven children, Clyde spent hours on the front porch of his home, drilling the ball off the roof to his older brother, James. Clyde told Sports Illustrated that his six-foot-plus brother, whose athletic career was cut short by work responsibilities, was talented and a good teacher. "The funny thing is that James had one of these picture-perfect jump shots, high arc, perfect form, the whole thing," Drexler said. "Exactly what my jumper doesn't look like." Drexler's mother told the Oregonian of her younger son: "Clyde didn't care about shooting. All he wanted to do is dunk."

At age 12, Drexler enrolled in a martial arts class at the urging of a neighbor. The class helped him to develop discipline, and by the time he entered high school he was a "gym rat," playing whatever sport was in season and doing well in all of them. Basketball seemed to be his best game, so his coaches encouraged him to give up football and baseball. "All you heard back then was to concentrate on one sport, and I think I got caught up in that," Drexler told Sports Illustrated. "My one regret is that I didn't get a chance to play two sports at a pro level. Baseball, maybe, or even football, as a quarterback or wide receiver."

Drexler's family was upwardly mobile. Both his mother and his stepfather, Manuel Scott, worked full-time jobs. Most of his siblings went to college. He was not pushed into a sports career by financial need or by the desire to help his parents out of difficulties. As Jack McCallum observed in Sports Illustrated, "When Clyde went to the University of Houston…he wasn't escaping from anything, didn't feel angry or trapped, and never thought he had to become a professional athlete to be a success." Nevertheless, Drexler entered the University of Houston in 1980 and helped make its basketball team an NCAA powerhouse within two short years.

At Houston Drexler combined with Akeem [Hakeem as of 1991] Olajuwon and Larry Micheaux to form the "Phi Slamma Jamma" front line. The trio was nearly unstoppable through several college seasons, and the University of Houston made the NCAA Final Four twice—in 1982 and 1983—while Drexler was there. Even though he only played through his junior year, Drexler set records at Houston for scoring 1000 points, snagging 900 rebounds, and making 300 assists over the course of his collegiate career. He was voted Houston's most valuable player as a sophomore and averaged 15.9 points per game as a junior. Also as a junior he was named Southwest Conference player of the year. These were the crucial seasons in which Drexler honed his 43-inch vertical reach with late-night workouts in the Houston athletic center. Expectations of a professional career suddenly became a real possibility, and he worked hard to make it happen.

Drafted by the Portland Trail Blazers

After his junior year of college Drexler announced his availability for the NBA draft. It was a calculated move. The Houston Rockets had the first and third picks in the draft that year, and Drexler hoped to be chosen by his hometown team, a franchise that he had followed avidly. Instead, the Rockets took Ralph Sampson and Rodney McCray. Drexler was drafted 14th in the first round, by a team more than a thousand miles away—the Portland Trail Blazers. "I was upset," Drexler told the Oregonian. "I came out [of college] a year early with the idea that the Rockets would grab me. When they didn't, I was disappointed."

At a Glance …

Born June 22, 1962, in New Orleans, LA; son of Eunice Drexler Scott; married Gaynell Floyd (an attorney), 1988; children: Erica (from previous relationship), Austin, Elise, Adam. Education: Attended University of Houston, 1980-83.

Career:

Portland Trail Blazers professional basketball team, Portland, OR, guard, 1983-95; Houston Rockets professional basketball team, Houston, TX, guard, 1995-98; University of Houston, coach, 1998-2000; Denver Nuggets, assistant coach and special assistant to general manager, 2001-02.

Memberships:

United States Olympic basketball team, 1992.

Awards:

NBA All-Star team, member, 1986, 1988-94, 1996, 1997; Olympic Gold Medal, 1992; named one of 50 Greatest NBA Players of All Time, 1996; Houston Rockets retired Drexler's jersey number, 2000; Portland Trail Blazers, retired Drexler's jersey number (#22), 2001; Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, inductee, 2004.

Portland might have seemed like a foreign country to Drexler when he arrived late in 1983, but he was determined to make his mark on basketball there. Attner wrote that in his early years as a professional, Drexler was "an immature, undisciplined natural talent with just five years of playing experience and an unrealistic opinion of his game. Amid the spectacular plays were too many wild shots and too much selfishness." Among Drexler's noted weaknesses were lapses in ball handling and decision making. His scoring average as a rookie was only 7.7 points per game, although he played in all 82 of the Blazers' games.

Drexler established himself in Portland as a man of few words who guarded his privacy intensely. Still, he was not able to insulate himself entirely from the probing eyes of media and fans. As his ability increased—he made his first of ten All-Star appearances in 1986—he began to clash with some of his coaches. Mild disagreements with his first Portland coach, Jack Ramsay, gave way to deeper arguments with Ramsay's replacement, Mike Schuler. All the while Drexler was improving on the court. His 1988-89 scoring average of 27.2 points was a Portland record, and he was voted Portland's most valuable player by his teammates. McCallum observed, however, that Schuler "considered Drexler a negative influence on the team, a player who didn't give his all in practice and who, despite streaks of brilliance, made bad decisions on the court." The schism ended when Schuler was fired—the Trail Blazer front office decided to take the side of their budding superstar.

Traces of the controversy lingered for several years, however. "I would never say Clyde didn't practice hard," assistant coach John Wetzel told Sports Illustrated of the Schuler years. "But I would say he is a little more focused now, more knowledgeable about the right things to do. He doesn't feel he has to prove himself every day, and that's led to a more constructive approach to his game." Under Portland coach Rick Adelman, Drexler's ability steadily improved. His shot selection, passing, court vision, and defense put him on a par with Michael Jordan, and he—after some reluctance—become the Trail Blazers' team captain.

As Drexler improved, so did the Blazers. The team appeared in its first NBA championship series in 1990, losing to the Detroit Pistons in five games. In 1992 the Blazers advanced all the way to the championships again, losing in a heartbreaking six games to the Chicago Bulls. For Drexler, that defeat was particularly disheartening. He had come off his best season yet, leading his team in both scoring average and assists and guiding the Blazers to an 11-4 post-season record before meeting the Bulls. National media attention poured down upon him when he finished second in voting for the league's most valuable player behind Michael Jordan.

Won Spot on Dream Team

The bittersweet ending to the 1992 professional season had a footnote, however. Drexler was not among the players initially named to the United States Olympic basketball team. He was stung by the omission, but he told the Los Angeles Times that he didn't dwell on it. Fortunately for Drexler—and the United States—the selection committee had left one spot open to be filled by a player who excelled during the 1991-92 regular season. In the spring of 1992 Drexler was given the call to join the Olympic team in Barcelona for the summer games. The low-key guard gave the credit for his selection to the Portland fans. "I think the fans on the local level started the whole support system, and that was a great feeling," he told the Los Angeles Times. "They were behind me all the way and they wanted to see justice done. The committee finally made a good decision."

Joining the Dream Team erased Drexler's relative anonymity in Portland. His spot on the Olympic team assured him the national status that his quiet behavior and small-market team membership had allowed him to avoid. "I've always had recognition, coming out of college," Drexler said. "The mega-mega-superstar recognition I haven't had, and that hasn't bothered me at all. I've got a lot of respect from people all across the country, get plenty of fan mail and that's a lot. I'd hate to go to the next level, where you're what I call a commercial superstar." Drexler's talent, however, would push him toward that level.

In 1992 Attner called Drexler "the NBA superstar we know the least about." Although active in the Portland community and a connoisseur of African-American art, Drexler preferred to protect his privacy and to shun controversy. The greatest explanation he'd offer about himself was to elaborate on his nickname, "The Glide," and his seemingly effortless work on the basketball court. "From my perspective, I'm scuffling out there," Drexler told The Oregonian. "I'm struggling. I'm barely making it. So when somebody says I make it look easy, that's funny." He elaborated in the Los Angeles Times, noting that on the court, "I'm going, ‘If I make this move, my ankle's going to kill me, if I make this move my knees may bend wrong.’ I'm out there struggling. But I'm trying so hard, before you know it, the play's made. It's like something you've done a million times before, so you just let it happen…. You never have time to think, ‘I'm just going to glide.’"

Drexler's vigorous attention to his health kept him on top of his game season after season with the Blazers. Yet Drexler voiced concern that the team management did not show him the respect his play deserved. By 1995, after 11 and a half seasons with the Blazers, Drexler demanded to be traded. Drexler explained to Barry M. Bloom of Sport his reasoning: "I'd played myself out of there, to be very honest. I'd seen transition in that organization quite a few times while I was there. It wasn't only the money. It wasn't only the rebuilding phase. It just wasn't going to work." His request led to the fulfillment of his original wish to play for the Houston Rockets.

Returned to Houston

On Valentine's Day of 1995 the Trail Blazers traded him to the Houston Rockets. Drexler rejoined his former college teammate Hakeem Olajuwon on his hometown team, which had won the NBA champion- ship the previous season. Drexler hoped to help the Rockets repeat their victory. "Getting the ring is the driving force in my career," Drexler told Bloom at the time.

His transition to the new team was not seamless. As he struggled to find a new rhythm the Rockets were nearly eliminated from the playoffs. But the mantra "Win one for Clyde" helped to propel the team into the finals. In the semifinals against the Phoenix Suns, the Rockets came back from a three to one deficit to win the series; such a feat had not been done since 1981. The Rockets beat the Suns in three straight games, two of which were in Phoenix, to move on to beat the San Antonio Spurs. In the finals against the Orlando Magic, the Rockets won in Game 3. It was Drexler who took the final shots to win the championship. At the press conference after winning his first NBA title, Drexler maintained his characteristic low-key demeanor, according to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. He remarked calmly: "This is the best feeling ever for me. It finally happened."

The championship was not the only high point of 1995 for Drexler. On November 24, 1995 he made his 20,000th career point, becoming the 24th player in history to do so. Drexler had sealed his status as one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History, an honor bestowed on him in 1997. Despite various injuries in the coming years, Drexler played hard for the Rockets and remained among the team's top scorers, and he was the top scorer in his last season. At the end of his playing career, Drexler was one of three players to top 20,000 points, 6,000 rebounds, and 3,000 assists in a career. He retired in March of 1998 to accept the head coaching position at his alma mater, University of Houston.

Refused to Stagnate after Retiring

Drexler viewed coaching as "a natural progression after being involved with the game for 20 years," reported Los Angeles Times contributor Lonnie White. He relished the chance to revive the university's program, which was in shambles. "I'm doing this because I love basketball and I love the university," he told Sporting News contributor Bill Mintuaglio. "From the beginning, I've said this is about wanting to give something back…being at the university once again, this is where it all started for me—this is what's important."

Before he coached his first game, Drexler's presence immediately buoyed expectations and boosted ticket sales. Drexler also attracted players to the program. To coach, Drexler approached the game in the same steady fashion he did his own playing. Houston player Chad Hendrick described Drexler as "very laid back," to White. "He doesn't have to yell because we all respect him so much. We know he's telling us the right thing whenever he tells us something…. Of course we're going to listen. I mean, he's Clyde Drexler. Everyone knows what he's meant to Houston and the game of basketball."

Drexler lasted two seasons as a coach before resigning in order to spend more time as a parent to his children. "It could not get any harder," the New York Times quoted him as saying about the struggle to be a coach and a parent. "You just can't do both." While Drexler focused on his family life, he did not stagnate. He had once reflected to Sporting News that "Each year, I try to expand my learning experience by taking on a new challenge," he told the Sporting News. "I don't want to become stagnant as a person." He spent 2001 and 2002 as an assistant coach and special assistant to Denver Nugget General Manager Kiki Vandeweghe, but then retired from sports. He explored his long-time interests in foreign languages, computers, and reading. Drexler also leant a hand running Drexler's Barbeque, a Houston restaurant started by his uncle in 1967 and run by his family ever since. Drexler did not leave the media limelight altogether; he remained a familiar face on television, providing color commentary for Houston Rocket home games, appearing on Reebok commercials, competing in Spike TV's inaugural Pros versus Joes reality television show in 2006, and even taking center stage as a contestant on Dancing with the Stars in 2007. For Drexler "winning and losing are not the measure of success," as Attner had once observed. During his playing career, as a coach, and even in retirement, Drexler proved that for him success was living a "balanced life." "I have a great life right now," Drexler told Jason Vondersmith of the Portland Tribune. "Every day is a blessing. My wife and I get to spend our time watching the kids grow up. I really enjoy it."

Sources

Books

Kelly, J., Clyde Drexler, Chelsea House, 1997.

Periodicals

Columbian (Vancouver, WA), June 15, 1995, p. 1; March 4, 2001, p. B1; March 6, 2001, p. B5.

Current Biography, January 1996, p. 10.

Los Angeles Times, June 2, 1992; November 29, 1998, p. 1.

Oregonian, May 27, 1992.

Philadelphia Inquirer, June 2, 1992.

Portland Tribune, December 12, 2003.

Seattle Post-Intelligencer, June 15, 1995, p. D7; April 6, 2004, p. D12.

Seattle Times, June 11, 1995, p. D5.

Sporting News, May 18, 1992; February 22, 1999, p. 10.

Sports Illustrated, June 11, 1990; January 27, 1992; May 11, 1992; January 16, 1995, p. 62; February 27, 1995, p. 78.

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Drexler, Clyde 1962–

Clyde Drexler 1962

Professional basketball player

At a Glance

Cultivated Athletic Discipline

Skills Improved, but Controversy Mounted

Couldnt Avoid Limelight

Sources

Portland Trail Blazer guard Clyde The Glide Drexler is considered a phenomenon in professional basketball: a championship-calibre player, he toils in a small market and never seeks to call attention to himself. Compared at every turn to the better-known Michael Jordan, Drexler has progressed year by year as his team has become a playoff contender. His skills during the 1991-92 basketball season earned him All-NBA First Team honors and a position on the United States Olympic basketball team. Philadelphia Inquirer correspondent Mike Bruton commended Drexler for his silky-smooth style that ranges from explosiveness when he assaults the hoop on the fast break to the utmost in finesse when he softly launches a three-pointer or beats his man on a baseline drive. Bruton added: The Glide is not just a nickname, it is what Clyde Drexler does on a basketball court.

Drexler is stalking greatness, but his fame outside Portland and his native Houston is limited. I am just uncomfortable talking about myself or my family, Drexler told the Sporting News. Nor does he appear to be consumed with the desire to win national championships, even though the Trail Blazers advanced to the finals in 1990 and again in 1992. I want to win it all, but Im not obsessed with it, he said placidly just before the 1992 NBA Championships. It wont mar my accomplishments.

These accomplishments have accumulated slowly in a professional career that began in 1983. Plagued in his early years by a reputation for wild play on the court and stubbornness with coaches and staff, Drexler went on to mature emotionally and physically. He attributes his success in the NBA not to raw talent but to hard work. Its a slap in my face to credit everything Ive done to my God-given abilities, Drexler told the Sporting News. I never felt I was a very good player. At Houston [in college], when everyone else was partying, I was in the gym... at 2 a.m., practicing. Ive always had keys to the gym. My edge isnt my talent; its the fact Im always in shape.

Drexler was born in 1962 in New Orleans, Louisiana. He spent most of his childhood in Houston, Texas, in a neighborhood known as South Park. Sporting News contributor Paul Attner noted that Drexler has described himself as a chubby preteen who was too slow, couldnt jump and was always picked last on his playground in Houston. That assessment might not be completely fair.

At a Glance

Born June 22, 1962, in New Orleans, LA; son of Eunice Drexler Scott; married Gaynell Floyd (an attorney), 1988; children: Austin, Elise. Education: Attended University of Houston, 1980-83.

Guard for Portland Trail Blazers professional basketball team, Portland, OR, 1983. Selected fourteenth in first round of 1983 National Basketball Association (NBA) draft. Contract with Portland extended through 1995-96 season. Member of 1992 United States Olympic basketball team.

Awards: Named to NBA All-Star team, 1986-92; named to All-NBA Second Team, 1991; named to All-NBA First Team, 1992.

Addresses: Officec/o Portland Trail Blazers, 700 NE Multnomah, Suite 600, Portland, OR 97232.

The middle of seven children, Clyde spent hours on the front porch of his home, drilling the ball off the roof to his older brother, James. Clyde told Sports Illustrated that his six-foot-plus brother, whose athletic career was cut short by work responsibilities, was talented and a good teacher. The funny thing is that James had one of these picture-perfect jump shots, high arc, perfect form, the whole thing, Drexler said. Exactly what my jumper doesnt look like. Drexlers mother told the Oregonian of her younger son: Clyde didnt care about shooting. All he wanted to do is dunk.

Cultivated Athletic Discipline

At the age of twelve, Drexler enrolled in a martial arts class at the urging of a neighbor. The class helped him to develop discipline, and by the time he entered high school he was a gym rat, playing whatever sport was in season and doing well in all of them. Basketball seemed to be his best game, so his coaches encouraged him to give up football and baseball. All you heard back then was to concentrate on one sport, and I think I got caught up in that, Drexler told Sports Illustrated. My one regret is that I didnt get a chance to play two sports at a pro level. Baseball, maybe, or even football, as a quarterback or wide receiver.

Drexlers family was upwardly mobile. Both his mother and his stepfather, Manuel Scott, worked full-time jobs. Most of his siblings went to college. He was not pushed into a sports career by financial need or by the desire to help his parents out of difficultiesalthough he has provided funds to help his mother retire early from her position as a cashier at a supermarket. As Jack McCallum observed in Sports Illustrated, When Clyde went to the University of Houston... he wasnt escaping from anything, didnt feel angry or trapped, and never thought he had to become a professional athlete to be a success. Nevertheless, Drexler entered the University of Houston in 1980 and helped make its basketball team an NCAA powerhouse in just two short years.

At Houston Drexler combined with Akeem Olajuwon and Larry Micheaux to form the Phi Slamma Jamma front line. The trio was nearly unstoppable through several college seasons, and the University of Houston made the NCAA Final Four twicein 1982 and 1983while Drexler was there. Even though he only played through his junior year, Drexler set records at Houston for scoring 1000 points, snagging 900 rebounds, and making 300 assists over the course of his collegiate career. He was voted Houstons most valuable player as a sophomore and averaged 15.9 points per game as a junior. Also as a junior he was named Southwest Conference player of the year. These were the crucial seasons in which Drexler honed his 43-inch vertical reach with late-night workouts in the Houston athletic center. Expectations of a professional career suddenly became a real possibility, and he worked hard to make it happen.

After his junior year of college Drexler announced his availability for the NBA draft. It was a calculated move. The Houston Rockets had the first and third picks in the draft that year, and Drexler hoped to be chosen by his hometown team, a franchise that he had followed avidly. Instead, the Rockets took Ralph Sampson and Rodney McCray. Drexler was drafted fourteenth in the first round, by a team more than a thousand miles awaythe Portland Trail Blazers. I was upset, Drexler told the Oregonian. I came out [of college] a year early with the idea that the Rockets would grab me. When they didnt, I was disappointed.

Portland might have seemed like a foreign country to Drexler when he arrived late in 1983, but he was determined to make his mark on basketball there. Attner wrote that in his early years as a professional, Drexler was an immature, undisciplined natural talent with just five years of playing experience and an unrealistic opinion of his game. Amid the spectacular plays were too many wild shots and too much selfishness. Among Drexlers noted weaknesses were lapses in ball handling and decision making. His scoring average as a rookie was only 7.7 points per game, although he played in all 82 of the Blazers games.

Skills Improved, but Controversy Mounted

Drexler established himself in Portland as a man of few words who guarded his privacy intensely. Still, he was not able to insulate himself entirely from the probing eyes of media and fans. As his ability increasedhe made his first All-Star appearance in 1986he began to clash with some of his coaches. Mild disagreements with his first Portland coach, Jack Ramsay, gave way to deeper arguments with Ramsays replacement, Mike Schuler. All the while Drexler was improving on the court. His 1988-89 scoring average of 27.2 points was a Portland record, and he was voted Portlands most valuable player by his teammates. McCallum observed, however, that Schuler considered Drexler a negative influence on the team, a player who didnt give his all in practice and who, despite streaks of brilliance, made bad decisions on the court. The schism ended when Schuler was firedthe Trail Blazer front office decided to take the side of their budding superstar.

Traces of the controversy linger to this day. I would never say Clyde didnt practice hard, assistant coach John Wetzel told Sports Illustrated of the Schuler years. But I would say he is a little more focused now, more knowledgeable about the right things to do. He doesnt feel he has to prove himself every day, and thats led to a more constructive approach to his game. Under current Portland coach Rick Adelman, Drexlers ability has steadily improved. His shot selection, passing, court vision, and defense put him on a par with Michael Jordan, and he hasafter some reluctancebecome the Trail Blazers team captain.

As Drexler improved, so did the Blazers. The team appeared in its first NBA championship series in 1990, losing to the Detroit Pistons in five games. In 1992 the Blazers advanced all the way to the championships again, losing in a heartbreaking six games to the Chicago Bulls. For Drexler, that defeat was particularly disheartening. He had come off his best season yet, leading his team in both scoring average and assists and guiding the Blazers to an 11-4 post-season record before meeting the Bulls. National media attention poured down upon him when he finished second in voting for the leagues most valuable player behind Michael Jordan.

The bittersweet ending to the 1992 professional season had a footnote, however. Drexler was not among the players initially named to the United States Olympic basketball team. He was stung by the omission, but he told the Los Angeles Times that he didnt dwell on it. Fortunately for Drexlerand the United Statesthe selection committee had left one spot open to be filled by a player who excelled during the 1991-92 regular season. In the spring of 1992 Drexler was given the call to join the Olympic team in Barcelona for the summer games. The low-key guard gave the credit for his selection to the Portland fans. I think the fans on the local level started the whole support system, and that was a great feeling, he told the Los Angeles Times. They were behind me all the way and they wanted to see justice done. The committee finally made a good decision.

Couldnt Avoid Limelight

The flip side to the coin is that Drexler will no longer toil in relative anonymity in Portland. His spot on the Olympic team will assure him the national status that his quiet behavior and small-market team membership have allowed him to avoid. Ive always had recognition, coming out of college, Drexler said. The mega-mega-superstar recognition I havent had, and that hasnt bothered me at all. Ive got a lot of respect from people all across the country, get plenty of fan mail and thats a lot. Id hate to go to the next level, where youre what I call a commercial superstar. Drexler backs these words up with actions: to date he has few of the high-paying commercial endorsements so prized by other NBA superstars, although his Trail Blazer salary is competitive.

Attner called Drexler the NBA superstar we know the least about. Although active in the Portland community and a connoisseur of African-American art, Drexler prefers to protect his privacy and to shun controversy. He only explains himself when asked about his nickname, The Glide, and his seemingly effortless work on the basketball court. From my perspective, Im scuffling out there, Drexler told The Oregonian. Im struggling. Im barely making it. So when somebody says I make it look easy, thats funny. He elaborated in the Los Angeles Times, noting that on the court, Im going, If I make this move, my ankles going to kill me, if I make this move my knees may bend wrong. Im out there struggling. But Im trying so hard, before you know it, the plays made. Its like something youve done a million times before, so you just let it happen.... You never have time to think, Im just going to glide.

During the off-season Drexler lives quietly in Portland with his wife, who is an attorney, and their two children. He studies foreign languages, dabbles with computers, and is an avid reader. Each year, I try to expand my learning experience by taking on a new challenge, he told the Sporting News. I dont want to become stagnant as a person. Drexlers contract with the Trail Blazers could keep him in Portland until the end of the 1995-96 basketball season. Attner concluded that Drexler will continue to shun the public cauldron of attention, unwilling to participate in the fuss being made over him. In Drexlers abstract world, the reporter wrote, winning and losing are not the measure of success. Living that balanced life, so basketball doesnt dominatenow, that is success.

Sources

Los Angeles Times, June 2, 1992.

Oregonian, May 27, 1992.

Philadelphia Inquirer, June 2, 1992.

Sporting News, May 18, 1992.

Sports Illustrated, June 11, 1990; January 27, 1992; May 11, 1992.

Mark Kram

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"Drexler, Clyde 1962–." Contemporary Black Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. 22 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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"Drexler, Clyde 1962–." Contemporary Black Biography. . Retrieved August 22, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/drexler-clyde-1962