Clyde Drexler is a member of an elite group of athletes in NBA history. A gifted player who played at the guard and forward position epitomized the term versatility was one of the league’s most athletic players during his prime years. Remember, this was the guy who kept Portland TrailBlazers for not drafting Michael Jordan and instead of going with Sam Bowie. Yeah, that was a mistake by their end, but still, with Clyde, they had a franchise player for the next decade.
In an interview with Chris Broussard on the show In The Zone, Cylde Drexler talked about competing against Michael Jordan with whom he had a rivalry for the title of best shooting guard in the league. Their most significant matchup was in the 1992 NBA Finals when the Bulls won their second straight in a 6-game series. Despite their rivalry, there was always a lot of respect between them, and Jordan rarely talked trash to Clyde.
“I loved playing against Michael, he was the nicest guy, but he is a great competitor. He never said anything to me. He asked me how I was doing, how my family was. A lot of mutual respect.”
Even though Jordan is considered as the GOAT in discussions about the best players in NBA history, Clyde doesn’t want to jump too quickly on that conclusion. He said other players should also be in this conversation, and fans often forget other players who left a significant mark on the league.
“Michael is phenomenal, and he is one of the best players I ever played against but who is ever better than Kareem, Chamberlain or Julius Erving, Bird or Magic. I never bought into that. We are all competitors.”
Even though Jordan outplayed Drexler during the 1992 finals series, Drexler held his ground and had games where he showed tremendous talent and ability to influence the game on both ends of the floor. Both Pippen and Jordan always guarded Drexler on the perimeter, but he was still able to make his impact. Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough to win the championship that year, but Drexler never felt there was anyone better than him, not even Jordan at that time.
“I always felt there was nobody better if I played the way I should have played. If I come out and compete, there will be only a few guys that are better, and if they are, you shake their hand and say congratz. I can compete with anyone, and it’s all about performance.”
What made Drexler so great, is that he wasn’t the type of player that would take over games just by scoring the ball. He had tremendous ability to do a lot of things equally great, and make his teammates around him better. In the interview, Drexler said there is a big difference in taking a lot of shots and not having a good field goal percentage, which is something that differentiates good and the great players. Clyde would rarely take more than 20 shots per game, mostly because he knew he could help his team win games in different ways.
“The difference is if you are taking 35 shots, and I’m taking 20, you are going to have more points. But I will make you work, and you can’t guard me. I can do whatever I can do, no matter who is on me. What can I do to stop you? I can’t stop you from scoring 35 points cause you will get a lot of attempts, but I can make you shot the worst percentage, make you work for it.”