He’s the best SG in the league, can’t nobody touch him, look at the way he soars through the air with his tongue out, look at the power he has when he slams the ball. But wait, was Michael Jordan the only player doing spectacular moves in that era? I can think of a few others, but this is about Portland Trail Blazers, Clyde Drexler.
In today’s NBA teams hit the draft taking the best available talent, when in earlier seasons they took what was needed. The most debated discussion in NBA history is a what if. What if the Blazers didn’t need Sam Bowie in 1984? It’s not that they didn’t want Jordan but why pick him when they already had Mr. Phi Slama Jama himself? Instead of being so focused on the Blazers picking Bowie, let’s look at the real reason Mike was not a Blazer, HE WAS NOT NEEDED. No one knew that he would become who he did but let’s not throw away who Drexler was either. And for the so-called basketball fans not in the know, let me offer a little insight on who Drexler was and why Jordan was able to be Jordan.
This is not Jordan hate, this is the truth that I’m about to speak.
Jordan came into the league as a high flyer, but so did Drexler. Jordan was known as “Air”, Drexler as “Glide”, the similarities don’t end there. Both played the same position, SG, were able to take their defender off the dribble, play solid defense and could score at will but the difference was, one wanted the individual success more while the other looked for team success. I know that may seem strange with Jordan and the Bulls wining 6 NBA titles but look at their careers. Jordan shot the ball an average of 23 times per game while Drexler shot the ball an average of 16 times per game. If Drexler wanted to shoot more the opportunities were there but he relied on his team to help. You give Drexler another 7 extra shots and his per averages would be up there with Jordan’s.
When they met up in the 1991-92 Finals it was more of the same and this was the only time I looked for Drexler to take over. Mike shot 158 times during the 6-game series while Drexler shot only 118 times, not saying that Jordan wanted it more but Drexler refused to take the focus off of the team and that cost them the championship. That’s who Drexler was, he denied the spotlight, he wanted to lace them up, play the game and go home.
Those Blazers teams Drexler was a part of never missed a playoff, he made 10 All Star games, averaged a stat line of 6 assist and 6 rebounds throughout his career, same as Jordan but he decided to take less shots. When people think of the best SGs in NBA history his name is never mentioned with Jordan, Kobe or Wade and that may sit well him just fine, but it doesn’t sit well with me. History tells us that you can’t be labeled as one of the greatest if your per falls below 23 points. But look at Drexler, look at what he did for the game, for the City of Portland, he is a legend and in my eyes he is one of the best to play the game, not just SG.
When I describe Drexler I often reference him to Barry Sanders. Sanders could have left the game as the greatest RB in NFL history but he didn’t want it like the others did. That doesn’t make him less of a man or player, he just wanted that team success more. I can’t take away what Jordan, Kobe or Wade done in their careers but what I can do is show respect to a man who chose teamwork over individual success.
The world knew who Jordan was only because Drexler let it be that way.