When discussing basketball from the ’80s and ’90s, the same names tend to appear. Michael Jordan. Magic Johnson. Larry Bird. But it was one of the sport’s greatest eras, and it featured numerous stars spread across the league. Some of those players, while being enshrined in the Hall of Fame, sometimes get passed over when fans today talk about the great players from that time frame.
One of those players is Clyde Drexler, one of the great shooting guards in NBA history. Drexler recently came up as a topic of conversation in the Michael Jordan documentary series The Last Dance, and Jordan was not completely complimentary.
Drexler wouldn’t know that, though, because he opted not to watch the show. Here’s why.
Clyde Drexler career overview
Drexler had a marvelous career at the NBA level. According to Pro Basketball-Reference, the Portland Trail Blazers drafted him with the 14th overall pick of the 1983 NBA Draft out of the University of Houston.
Drexler played for the Blazers until 1995, when he was traded halfway through the season to the Houston Rockets. There, he’d be reunited with his “Phi Slamma Jamma” teammate from the University of Houston, Hakeem Olajuwon. The two led the Rockets, the sixth seed, to an unlikely NBA championship over the Orlando Magic.
Here were Drexler’s career numbers:
- 20.4 points per game
- 6.1 rebounds per game
- 5.6 assists per game
- 21.1 Player Efficiency Rating
- 135.6 Win Shares
Along with being inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2004, Drexler also had the great honor of being on the 1992 Dream Team that won the Olympic gold medal in men’s basketball.
MJ vs. Clyde the Glide in the NBA Finals
Clyde Drexler led the Blazers to an NBA Finals appearance in 1992 where they squared off against Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls. Because Drexler and Jordan played the same position, it seemed natural for many to compare the two heading into their matchup.
This didn’t sit well with Jordan, who felt he was the far superior player to Drexler. According to Bleacher Report, in The Last Dance, Jordan made his feelings clear:
“Clyde was a threat…I’m not saying he wasn’t a threat. But me being compared to him, I took offense to that.”
Jordan is right that he was better than Drexler, of course, but it’s still a classic example of Jordan’s pettiness and insecurity. Drexler was a great player, but Jordan’s megalomaniacal approach to his own greatness took even the smallest of slights as a total affront to his basketball abilities.
Why Clyde Drexler won’t watch ‘The Last Dance’
The NY Post reported that Drexler conducted an interview with Sportstalk 790’s A-Team. He said he didn’t need to watch The Last Dance because “I lived it.” Drexler also took offense to the characterization of Portland and Chicago’s NBA Finals as a one-on-one match between him and Jordan:
“This is a team game, it’s not one guy…You can have 50 points and 40 rebounds but if you lose, are you less of a player than anybody on the other team? No, it’s a team game.
So I hate when people act like it’s an individual competition. I didn’t take 35 shots and get 20 free throws a night, so I wasn’t going to score 40 points a night. One thing I can’t stand is people trying to get better as the years go by. You were who you were back then and that’s who you are today.”
It’s clear that Drexler doesn’t really care for Jordan and his perceived slight at the comparison between the two. Jordan’s team may have gotten the better of Drexler’s that year, but the man they called “Clyde the Glide” did not go ringless for his career. His championship came over the team that bested Jordan’s Bulls in the 1995 Eastern Conference Finals.